San Antonio Spurs: Return of Kawhi Leonard Too Much for 76ers

Oct 14, 2016; San Antonio, TX, USA; San Antonio Spurs small forward Kawhi Leonard (2) looks on during the first half against the Miami Heat at AT&T Center. Mandatory Credit: Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports
Oct 14, 2016; San Antonio, TX, USA; San Antonio Spurs small forward Kawhi Leonard (2) looks on during the first half against the Miami Heat at AT&T Center. Mandatory Credit: Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports /

The San Antonio Spurs bounced back from their loss in Memphis Monday with a collective team win in Philadelphia last night against the 76ers.

The Spurs took their talents into Philadelphia looking to even up their “Rodeo Road Trip” record at 1-1. With the return of Kawhi Leonard, the Spurs did just that, beating the 76ers, 111-103.

In 36 minutes of play, Leonard had 32 points on 9/18 shooting, along with five assists, six rebounds, a +/- of 14 and 11/11 from the free throw line.

Don’t look now, but Leonard is making a quiet, yet very convincing case for MVP this year.

30-point games this season

Kawhi Leonard (16)Damian Lillard (15)Stephen Curry (14)Kevin Durant (14)Carmelo Anthony (12)LeBron (12)

— Quixem Ramirez (@quixem) February 9, 2017

Although Leonard played great, last night’s victory was a total team effort.

Tony Parker showed flashes of his old-self at times last night, scoring 18 points on 7-of-12 shooting, along with five assists in his 30 minutes of play.

LaMarcus Aldridge had himself a decent bounce-back game, scoring 15 points on 5-of-10 shooting, along with 10 rebounds and two blocks in 36 minutes of play.

Not only were all Spurs starters in double digits, but they all shot at least 50% from the field. #Efficiency

— Air Alamo (@AirAlamo) February 9, 2017

With efficient production like the Spurs put together last night, they make themselves an incredibly tough team to beat. However, we do have to put in perspective the fact that the Spurs were facing the 76ers last night without their best player, Joel Embiid.

Despite not having Embiid, the 76ers competed incredibly well. With 7:35 left in the fourth quarter, the 76ers were only down 87-85.

Suddenly, the Spurs realized who they were playing, and went on quick, game-ending run. Fast forward to 2:14 left in the game, and the Spurs were up, 103-92.

Summarizing Pop postgame: Spurs didn't play very well. Won because they finally perked up in 4Q + have Kawhi Leonard. 76ers impressive.

— Jeff McDonald (@JMcDonald_SAEN) February 9, 2017

Credit is given where credit is due, and the 76ers deserve theirs. It could be argued that with the assistance of Embiid, the 76ers could have came away with this game.

Why? Turnovers.

The Spurs had 15 total turnovers, which the 76ers capitalized on by scoring 17 points. The 76ers, on the other hand, only had six turnovers all game.

Nevertheless, the job of every NBA team is to play the teams on the schedule, and win. Despite a sub-par defensive performance, the Spurs still managed to gather another road victory.

The Spurs improved their road record to 21-6 on the season.

20 consecutive winning seasons on the road, a new #NBA record.

Check out the @spurs top road plays on the season!#GoSpursGo

— NBA (@NBA) February 9, 2017

The Spurs have 21 road wins this season, while the 76ers have 18 wins total.

Unfortunately, the Spurs did miss an opportunity last night.

The majority of experts had the Spurs winning last night in dominating fashion, and would have been a prime opportunity to get the starters some extra rest.

Instead, the Spurs didn’t play with that sense of urgency, and allowed the 76ers to stick around until the very end. With an eight game road trip spanning seven different cities, the Spurs could use all the extra rest they can muster up.

Regardless, contributions came from everyone in last night’s victory, including the play of the game by Danny Green late in the fourth quarter.

Danny was like n?pe.

— San Antonio Spurs (@spurs) February 9, 2017

If this block came from Aldridge or Dewayne Dedmon, it wouldn’t have been as impressive. Given that this block came from the starting shooting guard, it made it that much better.

The shot of the game, however, came from a more unlikely player. His name? Davis Bertans. The 24-year old Latvian was left open after a jump-ball, and nailed the shot before halftime.

Quick note: 39-year old Manu Ginobli won the tip against a 6’11” Nerlens Noel.


— San Antonio Spurs (@spurs) February 9, 2017

With an injury to Pau Gasol, Bertans has been given an opportunity to prove himself. Last night, Bertans continued his solid play, scoring nine points in 14 minutes off the bench, including 2-of-4 from beyond the arc.

When Gasol returns, Gregg Popovich has to find some minutes for Bertans. With Leonard, Aldridge, Jonathan Simmons and David Lee, that will be quite difficult.

More from Spurs News

Although the Spurs won last night, so did the Golden State Warriors.

The Warriors, who secured their 44th victory last night, are 44-8 on the season. Despite the Spurs being 40-12 on the season, they are still four games back of the Warriors.

Obviously, the Spurs are battling for a number one seed and home-court advantage for the entire playoffs. However, it’s unlikely the Warriors will blow a four-game lead, barring injuries. The Spurs goal should be to secure the number two seed, ensuring home-court advantage for the first two rounds.

The Houston Rockets are surprisingly 38-17, 3.5 games back of the Spurs. As it stands, the Spurs have a 2-1 regular season series lead over the Rockets, with one more game to play. The final game will be played in San Antonio on March 6th, which could prove to be a pivotal game.

"I am the one who pats"

@BryanCranston, probably

— San Antonio Spurs (@spurs) February 9, 2017

Until then, the Spurs will shift their focus to the 25-28 Detroit Pistons. The Pistons are 6-4 in their last 10 games, and are 16-10 at home this season. The Spurs will look to game plan against Pistons center Andre Drummond, who is second in the NBA with 13.8 rebounds per game.

Popovich and the Spurs know what it takes to beat the Pistons, as they won the first matchup in San Antonio, 96-86. However, Gasol played in that game, and Reggie Jackson did not. This time around, Gasol won’t be available, and Jackson will.

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Tune in to catch Spurs at Pistons tomorrow at 6:30 CT.