Leonard plays key role as Spurs’ depth is tested with injuries.
There were three games on the NBA schedule on Sunday night, with the San Antonio Spurs hosting the Minnesota Timberwolves in the pick of the night’s action.
Spurs coach Gregg Popovich had the depth of his roster tested on Sunday, as Danny Green joined Manu Ginobili and Thiago Splitter on the sidelines with injury.
However, despite being without their two top wing players and starting center, San Antonio were able to rely on their other key players to lift them past the Timberwolves, as they were also able to effectively limit Kevin Love.
Kawhi Leonard scored 17 points, but ultimately it was a real team effort as Tim Duncan (15 points), Tony Parker (14 points, 10 assists), Matt Bonner (14 points), Marco Belinelli (13 points) and Patty Mills (10 points) all contributed.
“You’ve got to stay ready, especially around here,” Duncan said, according to ESPN.
“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.”
Nikola Pekovic scored 22 points to lead Minnesota, but with Love being restricted to 14 points, the Spurs did exactly what they had to in the 104-86 win to move to 29-8 for the season and extend their winning streak to four games whilst also moving away at the top of the Western Conference.
Elsewhere, the Atlanta Hawks were undone by Memphis Grizzlies point guard Mike Conley who finished with 21 points and 13 assists while Zach Randolph added 18 points and 12 rebounds in their 108-101 win.
Paul Millsap scored 21 points and Jeff Teague added 20 for the Hawks, who had won two straight games but were unable to extend it further as they now look ahead to their trip to London to face the Brooklyn Nets on Thursday.
In the third game of the night, the Sacramento Kings routed the Cleveland Cavaliers by 44 points in their 124-80 win at the Sleep Train Arena.
DeMarcus Cousins sat through the fourth quarter on the bench with the game firmly under wraps, with Isaiah Thomas scoring 26 points to lead the Kings to their third straight win.
“It felt weird, sitting out the whole fourth. Unless I fouled out, I don’t think I’ve ever been in that situation” Cousins said.
“It felt good to see some of the guys play a lot of minutes and get out there and have good games. It was a good win all around.”
Cleveland came into the game having won their last two, but with Luol Deng being restricted to just 12 points and C.J. Miles finishing with a team-high of 14, they were never really able to make it a contest.
Cleveland Cavaliers 80-124 Sacramento Kings
Atlanta Hawks 101-108 Memphis Grizzlies
Minnesota Timberwolves 86-104 San Antonio Spurs