(The Sports Xchange) - San Antonio Spurs star forward Kawhi Leonard expects to play in Game 6 against the Houston Rockets on Thursday night despite a left ankle injury.
Leonard rolled his ankle with 5:37 left in the third quarter of Tuesday’s Game 5 and played half of the fourth period but did not take the court for overtime in the Spurs’ 110-107 home win to take a 3-2 lead in the best-of-seven Western Conference semi-final series.
“Yeah, I’m going to be able to play,” Leonard said after the game. “It was frustrating because I wanted to play. But I was happy seeing my team mates out there putting in a good effort and getting the win.”
Leonard suffered the injury when he came down on the foot of Houston’s James Harden while turning to run up the court. He limped back to the bench during the next stoppage in play and re-entered the game but did not score after a layup with 1:59 to play in the third quarter.
The 25-year-old Leonard still led the Spurs with 22 points and 15 rebounds. He is averaging 27.8 points, 7.7 rebounds and 4.7 assists during the postseason.
Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said Leonard asked to stay in the game but the staff made the decision to sit him.
“He’s had issues, and you could tell just before he took a couple of shots he jumped off one foot,” Popovich said Tuesday. “He didn’t want to come out, obviously. We let him play a little while just to see what he was going to be like, but it was obvious that he couldn’t go.”
San Antonio could clinch the series with a victory in Houston on Thursday. The winner of the semi-final will take on the Golden State Warriors in the best-of-seven West finals.
Editing by Larry Fine