Leonard Scores 17 As Spurs Beat Wolves 104-86
SAN ANTONIO -- The San Antonio Spurs have been touting their depth all season, and it was sorely needed to overcome the loss of another key player Sunday night.
Kawhi Leonard scored 13 of his 17 points in the second half and San Antonio beat the Minnesota Timberwolves 104-86 Sunday night for its fourth straight win.
Already without Manu Ginobili and Tiago Splitter, the Spurs lost Danny Green early in the second quarter to a sprained finger. Minus two of their top wings and their starting center, Leonard and the team’s bench took over in the second half.
Tim Duncan had 15 points and Tony Parker added 14 points and 10 assists for Western Conference-leading San Antonio. Matt Bonner also scored 14 points — including 4-for-5 shooting on 3-pointers — and Marco Belinelli had 13 points and Patty Mills added 10.
Leonard, who came in averaging 11.7 points in 35 games, had nine points in the third quarter, continually cutting to the basket to escape his defender for a series of dunks and layups. Leonard’s final basket of the quarter was a layup off an assist from Aron Baynes to put San Antonio up 81-71 entering the fourth.
Leonard finished 6 for 9 from the field in the second half.
San Antonio’s reserves, who average a league-leading 46 points per game, had 51 points. They scored 37 in the final three quarters after Green’s injury.
The reserves also were critical defensively against a Timberwolves team that was averaging 107.6 point per game.
Love had 42 points in his previous matchup with San Antonio on Dec. 13, shooting 8 for 9 on 3-pointers. He was unable to generate anything close to that Sunday, missing his only two 3-point attempts. He finished 3-for-14 shooting, struggling to get clean looks off against Bonner, Jeff Ayres and Boris Diaw.
The Timberwolves went inside to Pekovic early, who rewarded the team with a pair of short jumpers over Duncan. He finished with 14 points and three rebounds in the first half, but was limited to eight points and three rebounds in the second half while battling Duncan, Ayres and Baynes for positioning.
With the defense limiting Minnesota, San Antonio turned to its ball-sharing offense to seal the victory. The Spurs had 31 assists on their 42 field goals while shooting 57 percent from the field.
After passing the ball off twice to reset from long range, Bonner drained a 3-pointer that gave San Antonio a 22-15 lead.
The Spurs will need more of that when they travel to New Orleans to face the Pelicans on Monday night without Green, Splitter and, possibly, Ginobili.
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