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    Kawhi Leonard to miss season opener due to thigh injury as Spurs beat Rockets in preseason finale

    Oct 14, 2017
    LaMarcus Aldridge took charge for the Spurs in ending the preseason with a win over the Rockets. AP

    HOUSTON – Kawhi Leonard still isn't ready to play.

    San Antonio coach Gregg Popovich said the All-Star forward needs more time to get his injured thigh muscle right, meaning he won't be out there when the Spurs open their regular season on Wednesday against Minnesota.

    "He's still rehabbing and when he's ready, he'll be ready," Popovich told reporters in Houston before San Antonio's preseason finale.

    Leonard didn't play at all in camp or preseason, after a year where he averaged 25.5 points — raising his scoring average for the fifth consecutive season — and finished behind only Russell Westbrook and James Harden in the MVP race.

    Yet even without Leonard, the Spurs ended the preseason with a 106-97 win over the Houston Rockets on Friday (Saturday, Manila time).

    LaMarcus Aldridge had 26 points and 10 rebounds for San Antonio (3-2).

    Rudy Gay scored 14 points and Kyle Anderson added 13 for the Spurs. Eric Gordon led the host Rockets (4-1) with 27 points, and James Harden added 15 points and 11 assists — but shot a mere 5 for 17.

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    SPURS: Danny Green had 11 points and seven assists. ... The Spurs outscored Houston 60-38 in the paint.

    ROCKETS: Houston took 53 shots from 3-point range, making 15. ... Trevor Ariza and Ryan Anderson combined for 27 points, but shot 5 for 20 from behind the arc.

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    The Spurs aren't alone when it comes to injury woes heading into the season.

    Many are minor, like Cleveland's LeBron James nursing a sprained ankle and Golden State's Andre Iguodala dealing with a balky back — issues that might keep them out of their respective opening nights. Kevin Durant (virus) and Draymond Green (back) also missed Golden State's preseason finale on Friday, though neither situation is thought to be serious. Nor is the Rockets' Chris Paul sitting out Friday with a sore knee, after missing a game earlier this week with a sore shoulder.

    Some other injuries from training camp and preseason action are far more significant, like the ones endured by Charlotte's Nic Batum (elbow ligament tear), Miami's Rodney McGruder (stress fracture in left leg), Indiana's Glenn Robinson III (high ankle sprain followed by surgery to repair ligaments Friday), Washington's Markieff Morris (sports hernia), New Orleans' Rajon Rondo (sports hernia) and Utah's Dante Exum (shoulder).

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    They are looking at weeks — or in many cases, months — before they'll play again.

    So the preseason is over. Some teams will be feeling the effects of it for a while longer.

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    LaMarcus Aldridge took charge for the Spurs in ending the preseason with a win over the Rockets. AP
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