Kawhi Leonard leaves Clippers game (then arena) with back spasms

Minnesota Timberwolves v LA Clippers
Minnesota Timberwolves v LA Clippers

The entire premise of the Clippers as a contender and the biggest threat to the Nuggets starts with Kawhi Leonard — he is the two-time Finals MVP playing at an All-NBA and All-Defensive Team level this season.

Which is why this was concerning: After playing the entire first quarter, Leonard left the Clippers game against the Timberwolves due to back spasms, then later left the arena itself.

"He's been dealing with it for a couple days, back spasms," Clippers coach Tyrone Lue said of Leonard's back issues. "Wasn't sure if he was going to be able to go this morning. He came to shootaround, got treatment, he did what he had to do to try and get on the court today, but it didn't loosen up for him."

Lue added he didn't know if Leonard could join the Clippers on their upcoming road trip the rest of this week. Both the Clippers and Leonard himself have been cautious coming back from injuries in the past, and with the Clippers a month out from the postseason expect that trend to continue. It should be noted that James Harden discussed his shoulder and back issues after the game and added he was unsure if he would play in the next game.

None of that should take away from Anthony Edwards taking over the game, scoring 37 points and grabbing eight rebounds to help a shorthanded Timberwolves pick up a critical win, 118-100.

The win keeps the Timberwolves in the mix for the No. 1 seed — Oklahoma City, Denver, and Minnesota all are within a half-game of each other — and three games up on the No. 4 seed Clippers. Los Angeles appears headed for a 4/5 first-round matchup with the New Orleans Pelicans.