Leonard, Duncan, Parker help Spurs rip Timberwolves
By RAUL DOMINGUEZ
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.
“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 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.
“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.
SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Isaiah Thomas scored 26 points to lead the Sacramento Kings to their third straight victory, a 124-80 rout of the Cleveland Cavaliers on Sunday night.
The Kings scored 16 straight points in the third quarter and led by 28 points heading into the fourth. The three-game winning streak is Sacramento’s first since December 2012. The 45-point margin was the largest this season for the Kings.
C.J. Miles had 14 points and Luol Deng added 12 for the Cavaliers, who had won two straight.
Kyrie Irving, the Cavaliers’ leading scorer, missed 11 of 14 shots, 3 of 4 free throws, and finished with seven points.
MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Mike Conley had 21 points and 13 assists and Zach Randolph added 18 points and 12 rebounds to lead Memphis over Atlanta.
Paul Millsap scored 21 points to lead the Hawks, who had won two straight. It was only the Hawks’ third loss to the Grizzlies in the past 15 games.
Mike Miller also had eight points in the fourth quarter for the Grizzlies, including two 3-pointers. He finished with 15 points.
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