Leonard leads Spurs to joint-top of the NBA

Spurs' Kawhi Leonard prepares to take on Atlanta guard Kent Bazemore. The forward returned from injury to score a game-high 31 points.
Spurs' Kawhi Leonard prepares to take on Atlanta guard Kent Bazemore. The forward returned from injury to score a game-high 31 points.PHOTO: REUTERS

SAN ANTONIO (Texas) • Kawhi Leonard shrugged off the after-effects of a recent concussion to score 31 points as the San Antonio Spurs downed the Atlanta Hawks to go level with the Golden State Warriors at the top of the Western Conference on Monday.

Leonard, who was concussed after a clash with Oklahoma City Thunder guard Victor Oladipo last Thursday, led the Spurs to a 107-99 National Basketball Association (NBA) victory over the Hawks.

The win gave San Antonio an identical 52-14 record to long-time league pace-setters Golden State, who host Philadelphia this morning (Singapore time).

The Spurs have also won nine of their past 10 games overall and nine in a row at home.

Leonard was backed by an all-round scoring display from his team-mates. David Lee (14), Danny Green (14), Patty Mills (15) and Pau Gasol (13) all scored in double figures. The Spurs forward also chipped in with five rebounds and four assists.

Dennis Schroder had a team-high 22 points for the Hawks (37-30), with Tim Hardaway adding 17 points and Paul Millsap 16.

The Spurs lived dangerously at times, however, and gave up a season-high 23 turnovers during an uneven performance.

"All teams make mistakes - nobody plays a perfect game," Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said.

"But overall, I was pleased with our defence, given the fact that we turned it over 23 times and still held Atlanta below 100 points. I think that was a heck of an effort by the guys tonight. You know, Atlanta are obviously a talented team, physical team. They execute well. I'm really pleased that we continued to guard and hustle the way we did, despite being sloppy with the ball."

Leonard said he has fully recovered from his concussion which had left him complaining of headaches and blurred vision in his left eye. He was forced to miss the Spurs' 107-85 win over the Warriors on Saturday.

"I felt good - it was just like any other game," said the All-Star.

"Our trainers did a good job of getting me prepared."

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 15, 2017, with the headline 'Leonard leads Spurs to joint-top of the NBA'. Print Edition | Subscribe