x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 28 July 2017

San Antonio Spurs lose another cog, but keep chugging along

San Antonio added Danny Green to their list of injuries on Sunday night, but still topped Minnesota 104-86.

Tim Duncan and the Spurs own the Western Conference's best record. Soobum Im / USA Today Sports
Tim Duncan and the Spurs own the Western Conference's best record. Soobum Im / USA Today Sports

SAN ANTONIO, United States // 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 their 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.

“You’ve got to stay ready, especially around here,” Duncan said of overcoming the latest injury. “That’s what we preach, we’re getting everybody ready and you’ll get your opportunity whether it comes at the beginning or in the middle or in the end whenever it may be. When your time comes, you need to be ready to go because you’re going to earn your minutes.”

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.

“Our whole team does a great job of staying ready,” Bonner said. “We work hard on off days, even on game days, to keep our wind up and stay sharp so we can come in and help the team win games. We pride ourselves on being a team, one through 14 or 15, and everybody’s ready to step in and contribute.”

The reserves also were critical defensively against a Timberwolves team that was averaging 107.6 point per game.

Nikola Pekovic scored 22 points to lead Minnesota, but was held to eight in the second half. Kevin Love had 14 points and Alexey Shved added 11.

Love had 42 points in his previous matchup with San Antonio on December 13, shooting 8-for-9 on three-pointers. He was unable to generate anything close to that Sunday, missing his only two three-point attempts. He finished 3-for-14 shooting, struggling to get clean looks off against Bonner, Jeff Ayres and Boris Diaw.

“They were very physical with Kevin Love everywhere he moved,” Minnesota coach Rick Adelman said. “We have to figure out a way to help him out a little bit, see if we can’t have an answer for that.”

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.

“Pek’s huge, he’s a strong boy,” Duncan said. “He killed us on the offensive glass, especially in the first half. He had a great game tonight all around.”

With the defence limiting Minnesota, San Antonio turned to their ball-sharing offence to seal the victory. The Spurs had 31 assists on their 42 field goals while shooting 57 percent from the field.

“That’s just Spurs basketball,” Love said. “They’re very unselfish, they make the extra play and that’s tough to beat, especially when they have a couple of Hall of Famers in there. They’ve played together for a long time and they’re a good team. We played them well through the half and then they became the San Antonio Spurs.”

After passing the ball off twice to reset from long range, Bonner drained a three-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.

“(Green) will be out,” Popovich said. “He won’t go on the trip so we’ve lost him.”

OTHER SUNDAY RESULTS

Grizzlies 108, Hawks 101

The Memphis Grizzlies prevailed despite blowing a 13-point, third-quarter lead in a victory over the Atlanta Hawks.

Memphis point guard Mike Conley finished with 21 points with 13 assists and four steals while power forward Zach Randolph also had a double-double, scoring 18 points and grabbing 12 rebounds.

After trailing for much of the night, the Hawks (20-18) actually took an 82-79 lead early in the fourth before the home Grizzlies regained control thanks in part to Mike Miller, who scored eight of his 15 points in the fourth.

Paul Millsap paced Atlanta with 21 points and point guard Jeff Teague finished with 20 points

Shooting guard Courtney Lee scored 15 points in his first start for the Grizzlies (17-19) since being acquired from the Boston Celtics.

Kings 124, Cavaliers 80

Isaiah Thomas scored 26 points, forward Rudy Gay added 20, and the Sacramento Kings routed the Cleveland Cavaliers for their season-high third straight victory.

The Kings have won three straight games for the first time since December 5-8, 2012.

DeMarcus Cousins added 16 points and 11 rebounds for the Kings (13-22).

Guard CJ Miles led the Cavaliers (13-24) with 14 points. Luol Deng added 12 points in his second game since coming to Cleveland from the Chicago Bulls in a trade.

Cavaliers guard Kyrie Irving was coming off a 25-point game Friday night in a 113-102 victory against the Utah Jazz, but he had just seven points on 3-for-14 shooting against Sacramento.

At 44 points, the Kings had their largest margin of victory this season. They also allowed the fewest points in any their games this season.