San Antonio: The Spurs’ first game with every player healthy and available went as the team expected. There was some hesitation and a rash of early turnovers, but they grew comfortable as the game progressed. Kawhi Leonard scored 21 points, LaMarcus Aldridge added 20 and San Antonio beat Brooklyn 109-97 on Tuesday night, its 15th straight win at home over the Nets.
“(The rash of injuries is) very unusual for us, but we still have a month and a half until the rodeo (road trip) starts,” Spurs veteran Manu Ginobili said. “This is a good time to get everybody playing, everybody feeling good. Get Kawhi and Tony (Parker) back to their usual selves, back to their rhythm, feeling good and I think we are accomplishing that. Slowly, because they haven't been back for so long, but they are really showing progress.”
San Antonio is third in the Western Conference at 24-11 despite being without Leonard and/or Parker for 30 games this season. Aldridge has led the team during the duo's absence and his resurgent season has not slowed with their return. The 6-foot-11 forward was 7 for 15 from the field and had nine rebounds against Brooklyn.
“You know, obviously, watching (Aldridge and Pau Gasol) play and see them do the things they do for our team is great, and it inspires everyone on the bench, me, even guys playing,” Leonard said. “But just with me, just taking it slow and trying not to skip any steps, like I said before, so I can be healthy down the road.” Playing in just his fifth game, Leonard was 8 for 17 from the field in scoring a season high. He made his first appearance in the fourth quarter, scoring four points in three minutes.
“When Kawhi checked into the game in the fourth quarter, that wasn't a welcome sign,” Nets coach Kenny Atkinson said. “It just changes the game. He makes such a difference. Defensively, it's just unbelievable. I felt like he was guarding our whole team at times.” Playing with a full roster for the first time led to some indecision, as the Spurs scored just 19 points in the opening quarter while trying to involve all their scoring options. “We went to being too careful,” said reserve guard Patty Mills, who scored 11 points. “That caused us to turn the ball over.”