Leonard dulls the pain as San Antonio turns up the heat on Miami
MIAMI—It doesn’t get any easier for Kawhi Leonard who had to play through the discomfort of a scratched eye in scoring 27 points to lead the San Antonio Spurs to a 106-99 win over Miami.
Not only did Leonard lead the Spurs in offense on Sunday night (Monday, Manila time) but he scored the final 12 points of the game in front of a crowd of 30,200 at Miami’s American Airlines Arena.
“Having a guy like (Leonard), that when you are not getting anything out of your offense can take over, get fouled, get to the line and get easy points, it helps,” Spurs guard Manu Ginobili said.
Leonard played with a bandage under his right eye after getting accidentally scratched by Heat guard Tyler Johnson with 8:28 left in the fourth quarter.
He drained two mid-range jump shots and eight free throws to close out the win for the undefeated Spurs, who improved to 4-0.
Despite the injury, Leonard missed less than two minutes of game action.
“He took over the game,” Spurs forward David Lee said. “That’s what we expect of him, and he followed through as usual.”
Down the stretch, Leonard was too much for Miami, and the Spurs have now won six straight games in a rivalry that ignited when the teams split matchups in the 2013 and 2014 NBA finals.
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While Leonard was able to make his way back into the game after receiving repairs in the dressing room, the same could not be said for Miami center Hassan Whiteside.
Whiteside tied his career high with 27 points and added a game high in rebounds (15). However, he left with just under five minutes left in the final quarter due to cramps.
Whiteside, who did not return, was a team-high plus-seven while he was on the court. However, the Heat looked lost when he was out, and that included Leonard’s domination down the stretch.
Besides Leonard, the Spurs got 20 points and 11 rebounds from six-time all-star center Pau Gasol, who is new to the team this year.