Kawhi Leonard returns to Clippers after 12 games out due to ACL rehab, makes 1st start of season

Kawhi Leonard is back for the Los Angeles Clippers.

The two-time Finals MVP returned to the court on Thursday against the Detroit Pistons, his first appearance in 12 games after missing more than three weeks due to issues with his recovering knee.

Leonard missed all of last season after tearing his ACL in the 2021 playoffs, then appeared off the bench in two of this season's first three games. He started on Thursday, though, making his first appearance in the Clippers' starting lineup since his initial injury.

It was a quiet night compared to Leonard's usual production, posting six points, five rebounds and four assists in 24 minutes, but it wasn't without some nice plays:

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The Clippers defeated the Pistons 96-91, behind 23 points from Reggie Jackson.

Leonard's layoff had put the Clippers in a familiar situation: treading water while waiting to get healthy. All of last season was spent waiting for Leonard and Paul George to get healthy, and the former obviously never happened.

The Clippers currently sit at 8-7, ninth in the Western Conference, and they will be hoping Leonard's return means one of the NBA's deepest teams can finally fire on all cylinders.

Los Angeles Clippers forward Kawhi Leonard dribbles down the court during the first half of a preseason NBA basketball game against the Minnesota Timberwolves, Sunday, Oct. 9, 2022, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Raul Romero Jr.)
Is Kawhi Leonard finally healthy? Are the Clippers? (AP Photo/Raul Romero Jr.)