KAWHI Leonard continued his scoring tear as the undermanned San Antonio Spurs proved strong enough to spoil Nikola Jokic’s career game and beat the Denver Nuggets, 118-104, at the AT&T Center on Thursday (Friday, Manila time).
Leonard had his fifth straight game of scoring at least 30 as he had 34 points to lead the Spurs. He had ample support in this game even without Tony Parker and Pau Gasol a late scratch due to injuries, as Dejounte Murray started at the point and finished with 24 markers while David Lee took Gasol’s spot in the starting unit to end up with a double-double of 10 points and 16 rebounds.
With a slim 59-58 lead at the half, the Spurs started the third with a 22-6 blitz to lead by as much as 17 points midway through the period. The Nuggets cut it down to seven but San Antonio pushed the lead back to 11, 92-81, entering the fourth quarter.
Jokic, who had a career-high 35 points to go with 12 rebounds, brought the Nuggets within eight halfway through the fourth, before Leonard scored nine of the Spurs’ next 11 points to take the fight out of Denver with a 115-103 San Antonio lead late in the game.
Manu Ginobili added 14 points off the bench, while LaMarcus Aldridge chipped in 10 to help the Spurs improve to 33-9 after their second win in a row.
Will Barton had 18 points for Denver, who saw its three-game win run ended and fell to 17-24. Jamal Murray chipped in 13 off the bench, while Emmanuel Mudiay added 12 markers.