PHOENIX (AP) — Kawhi Leonard scored 21 points to lead the San Antonio Spurs to their 12th straight victory, a 117-89 win over the Phoenix Suns on Thursday night.
Leonard, selected as an All-Star starter for first time in his career earlier in the day, scored eight of his points in the third quarter for San Antonio. Boban Marjanovic added 17 points and 13 rebounds, and Jonathon Simmons had 13 points.
Having already tied the best start in franchise history, the Spurs moved to 37-6 and kept pace with the 2010-11 team, which also had a 37-6 mark. They got 66 points from their bench.
The Spurs cruised despite missing starters Tony Parker and Tim Duncan. Parker had right hip soreness and Duncan was given the night off to rest.
Devin Booker’s 24 points led the Suns, who lost their sixth straight and 15th in 16 games. Archie Goodwin added 20 points and Tyson Chandler grabbed a season-high 20 rebounds.
The Suns were down to only nine available players to start the game, with starting guard Brandon Knight out due to an abductor strain. Forwards Mirza Teletovic (sprained ankle), Jon Leuer (back spasms) and Markieff Morris (shoulder strain) — all injured before or during Tuesday’s loss to Indiana — also did not play.
All nine played Thursday, but forward P.J. Tucker took a shot to the chest midway through the first quarter trying to defend a drive by Leonard and didn’t return due to a contusion.
The Spurs led by as many as 18 points in the first half after a layup by David West with 6:08 left in the second quarter. The Suns were able to cut the lead to 12 by halftime at 51-39 and trailed by as few as six points in the third quarter after Booker hit back-to-back shots.
But the Spurs held the lead with reserves playing quality minutes throughout the game. They took a 10-point advantage into the fourth quarter and built up the lead in the final 12 minutes.
No starter played more than the 29 minutes by Ray McCallum, who started in place of Parker.
WINNING IN THE 90s
Thursday night’s game, a 90s theme night for the fans, matched two teams who won well over 60 percent of their games in the 1990s. Phoenix was 509-283 in the decade, while San Antonio was 498-295.
Spurs: Coach Gregg Popovich said Leonard has a large responsibility being a standout two-way player. "There are very few in the league," Popovich said. "You can probably count them on one hand that do it night after night after night." … Arizona Cardinals RB Chris Johnson attended the game with former NFL RB LenDale White. … The Spurs lead the all-time series between the teams 86-75.
Suns: Phoenix signed F Cory Jefferson to a 10-day contract earlier in the day and he saw immediate action Thursday. Jefferson appeared in six games for the Suns after opening the season on the roster. He was waived on Jan. 7. … Suns players will spend some time Friday working as Southwest Airlines employees at Phoenix’s Sky Harbor International Airport. … Kevin Eubanks, the leader of Jay Leno’s Tonight Show band for 15 years, played the national anthem.