All-star game starter Kawhi Leonard scored 34 points and rookie Dejounte Murray added a career-high 24 as the San Antonio Spurs defeated the Denver Nuggets 118-104 yesterday.
Leonard, who earlier in the day was named an NBA all-star starter for the second straight year, posted his fifth consecutive game with at least 30 points while Murray, 20, becomes the youngest player in franchise history to score 24 or more points in a game.
“I am just happy my hard work is paying off. This is just another step in my career. Hopefully I can keep it going,” said Leonard of the all-star nod.
But the win could prove costly for the Spurs. Thirty minutes before tipoff, the Spurs announced that point guard Tony Parker would miss the game because of left foot pain.
And it got worse when center Pau Gasol broke his ring finger on his left hand during pregame warm up. Gasol went straight to the San Antonio locker room and did not return.
The Spurs announced the injury during the second quarter. “He is going to be out for a while,” Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said.
David Lee added 10 points and a season-high 16 rebounds for San Antonio, which improved to 33-9 and won for the sixth time in eight games. The Spurs also got 14 points from Manu Ginobili and 10 points from LaMarcus Aldridge, who added six assists.
Denver was led by Nikola Jokic’s career-high 35 points and 12 rebounds while Will Barton added 18 points. Jamal Murray scored 13 and Emmanuel Mudiay hit for 12 for the Nuggets, who had a three-game winning streak snapped.
Popovich was ejected from the game after arguing a foul call with 1:36 to play in the second quarter and the game tied 51-51. It was his first ejection of the season. The Spurs led 59-58 at the half as Leonard scored 13 points and Murray added 10.
Jokic led all scorers at intermission with 17 points while Murray added 11 points off the bench. The Spurs opened the second half with a 15-0 run.
Elsewhere, John Wall finished with 29 points and 13 assists for his 25th double-double of the season, leading the Washington Wizards to a 113-110 win over the New York Knicks at Madison Square Garden.
Wall’s two free-throws with 32 seconds to play gave Washington a 111-110 lead after Derrick Rose had given the Knicks a 110-109 lead with 48 seconds left. Carmelo Anthony missed a jumper with 18 seconds to go that would have tied the score. Anthony scored 34 points and had 10 rebounds for the Knicks.
Kristaps Porzingis scored 15 points in his first game back from an Achilles injury. Washington has won 13 straight home games, but is just 5-13 on the road where they will play four of their next five games.
“It’s good to get a road win,” said Wizards coach Scott Brooks. “We’ve had so many last-second shots on the road that didn’t go our way, so it’s nice to close out tonight with the win. When our offence was a little stagnant at the end, John (Wall) made a couple of big plays. He probably took one or two tough shots, but he makes a lot of winning basketball plays for us.”
In Miami, Goran Dragic scored 32 points and clinched the win with two free-throws with three seconds left in the game as the Miami Heat defeated the Dallas Mavericks 99-95. Miami, which won its second straight game, also got 23 points off the bench from Tyler Johnson.
Heat center Hassan Whiteside started quickly but finished with just 13 points and eight rebounds. Dirk Nowitzki paced the Dallas attack with 19 points as the Mavericks had their three game win streak snapped.
In Cleveland, LeBron James and Kyrie Irving celebrated being named NBA all stars by combining for 47 points in the Cavaliers’ 118-103 rout of the Phoenix Suns.
James, who led all players in fan voting, and Irving were named Eastern Conference all-star starters for the game on February 19 in New Orleans. James scored 21 points, matching his season-high with 15 assists and grabbing nine rebounds to fall one shy of a triple-double.
Irving scored 26 points as Cleveland jump-started their offense, winning just their second game in the last five. It will be Irving’s second start and fourth all-star appearance in six years, while James will become the fifth player in NBA history to appear in at least 13 all-star games.
Tyson Chandler scored 22 points and grabbed 16 rebounds for the Suns after missing one game with stomach problems. Eric Bledsoe tallied 22 points and nine assists, while Devin Booker had 21 points, seven rebounds and eight assists for the Suns, who lost for the fourth time in their last five games.
Cleveland led by 21 late in the first half and were never really threatened by a Suns team with the worst record in the Western Conference.
Kevin Love missed the game with a sore back. Love was considered a game-time decision after he missed the second half of Monday’s loss to Golden State. James Jones started in place of Love and scored 14 points.
The Cavaliers broke out of their shooting funk to make 19 three-pointers. They committed just 12 turnovers while passing for 29 assists.
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