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Even without Kawhi Leonard, Team USA defeats Canada in exhibition

Bam Adebayo dunks against Canada during Wednesday's game.
Bam Adebayo dunks against Canada during Wednesday’s game.
(Brian Babineau / NBAE via Getty Images)
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Before Team USA took the court to meet Canada in an exhibition game Wednesday night, the story of the day was about Kawhi Leonard being sent back to Los Angeles from training camp because he wasn’t healthy enough to compete in the Paris Olympics.

After the fourth day of practice, Grant Hill, the managing director of Team USA, said he informed Leonard on Tuesday night that it was smarter for him and the Clippers to prepare for the upcoming NBA season.

“We just felt it was in our best interest, but also the Clippers’ and Kawhi’s best interest, to move into a different direction,” Hill said before Team USA defeated Canada, 86-72, at T-Mobile Arena. “We tried. I think we all tried and gave it a valiant effort and unfortunately we have to move forward.”

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Leonard missed the final eight regular-season games last spring and four of six games in the Clippers’ first-round playoff series against Dallas because of right knee inflammation. His last game was April 26.

He had been working out leading up to the training camp that started Saturday in hopes of being able to play.

Clippers star Kawhi Leonard has shown signs he has yet to fully recover from a knee injury and withdrew from Team USA ahead of the Paris Olympics.

July 10, 2024

“My approach was let’s get through the four days, let’s hope we can get through the four days and then let’s take a step back and evaluate,” Hill said. “So, really looking at the totality of the camp and conferring with the Clippers and speaking with Kawhi and his representation and figuring out the next move. So, that was at least my thought process coming into camp.”

Boston guard Derrick White is the replacement for Leonard.

“Our decision was made,” Hill said. “I think we were open and honest and understanding through it all. Like I said, my heart goes out, but we have to do what’s best for the team and protect the team, give ourselves the best opportunity for success.”

Lakers forward Anthony Davis had one of the top performances for Team USA, coming off the bench to register a double-double with 10 points and 11 rebounds.

Anthony Edwards of the Minnesota Timberwolves led the way with 13 points, and Stephen Curry of the Golden State Warriors had 12.

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Team USA leaves Thursday for Abu Dhabi for two more exhibition games against Australia and Serbia and then will travel to London for games against South Sudan and Germany.

Team USA will open the Olympics against Serbia on July 28.

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