Leonard has 20 in return, powers Spurs past Blazers
Kawhi Leonard scored 20 points in his return from a 15-game absence and the San Antonio Spurs rolled to a 110-96 victory over the Portland Trail Blazers on Friday night.
After missing 17 games total due to a torn ligament in his right hand, Leonard’s presence energized San Antonio. The Spurs had the extra step and pep they needed to run the fluid ball movement that became a staple of their march to last season’s NBA title.
Tony Parker scored 19 points and Patty Mills added 18 for San Antonio, which had six players score in double figures and had 34 assists. Tim Duncan had 11 points and 12 rebounds.
LaMarcus Aldridge had 24 points and Damian Lillard added 23 for the Trail Blazers.
San Antonio shot 11 for 29 on 3-pointers and outrebounded Portland 49-32.
It was the Blazers’ first game in San Antonio since beating the Spurs 129-119 in triple overtime on Dec. 19. Leonard missed that game, but he made up for lost time quickly.
He pleaded for the ball on the game’s opening possession, hitting the front rim on a 3-point attempt. It was one of the few times the NBA Finals MVP didn’t fire up the crowd and his teammates with his energy.
Leonard shot 8 for 18 from the field and was 3 for 4 on free throws.
Leonard initially injured his right hand Dec. 9 against Utah, tearing a ligament while trying to brace his fall on a failed dunk attempt. He returned after sitting out two games, but damaged the ligament again against Portland on Dec. 15 in his second game back when a defender slapped his right hand.
He showed no hesitancy Friday night, powering in a layup after Aldridge swiped forcibly at his right arm as the 6-foot-7 forward drove headfirst into the lane.