Getty

Kawhi Leonard scores 25 as Spurs throttle Raptors, 110-82

1 Comment

SAN ANTONIO (AP) Kawhi Leonard had 25 points, LaMarcus Aldridge added 23 and the San Antonio Spurs beat Toronto 110-82 on Tuesday night, holding the Raptors to their lowest score of the season.

San Antonio dominated a matchup of teams with the second-best record in each conference, leading by as many as 34 points.

Leonard and Aldridge combined to shoot 19 for 28 from the field, but it was veteran point guard Tony Parker who set the tone for the Spurs.

Parker finished with 15 points and eight assists in 23 minutes.

After scoring the game’s opening basket on a floater, Parker drove the lane and tossed the ball out to Aldridge and Pau Gasol for mid-range jumpers and to Danny Green for a 3-pointer.

The Spurs raced to a 26-10 lead in the opening eight minutes, and the Raptors never recovered.

DeMar DeRozan led Toronto with 26 points, but backcourt mate Kyle Lowry was held to six on 2-for-9 shooting.

San Antonio fizzled when Parker exited for rest, going scoreless for 5:13 bridging the first and second quarters.

Parker’s return helped set up three straight dynamic plays that put the Raptors on their heels and gave the Spurs their largest lead at 54-32 with 2:28 left in the first half.

Green’s steal and half-court pass led to a one-handed, breakaway dunk for Leonard that revved up the sold-out crowd.

Parker dribbled around his back on the run to lose Lowry at the top of the 3-point line, got DeRozan to leap in the paint and then whipped a pass to the left corner for a 3-pointer from Leonard.

Parker then passed under the basket to Aldridge, who tossed it out to Leonard. He faked a shot, dribbled, reset and made a 3 for a 22-point lead.

The Raptors shot 37 percent from the field while failing to reach 90 points for the first time this season.

TIP-INS

Raptors: Toronto is winless against the NBA’s top three teams, losing three games to Cleveland and two to Golden State before falling to San Antonio. . The Raptors scored a previous season-low 91 points in three games, with the most recent being Dec. 29 at Phoenix. . F Patrick Patterson missed his second straight game with a strained left knee. . Toronto last won in San Antonio on Dec. 28, 2007.

Spurs: Leonard has scored in double figures in 67 straight games. Tim Duncan, who retired after last season, holds the franchise record with 75 in a row from 2005-06. . Aldridge has 12 3-pointers in 31 games this season, the second-highest total of his career. Aldridge had 37 in 2015, his final season in Portland. . San Antonio matched the third-best start after 35 games in franchise history at 28-7. The team’s best start was 29-6, set in 2011 and matched last season.

UP NEXT

Raptors: Host the Utah Jazz on Thursday night.

Spurs: At the Denver Nuggets on Thursday night.

Marcus Smart wants to be back for Game 6 vs. Bucks

1 Comment

Boston Celtics guard Marcus Smart has been out for some time after injuring his thumb earlier in the year. The absence of one of Boston’s most important guards has been felt even more so after Kyrie Irving went down following knee surgery.

In short, the Celtics would like to have Smart back on the floor.

We’re now close enough that Smart has begun to give solid timeframes to reporters. Speaking to media on Sunday, Smart said that his plan is to be back for Game 6 against the Milwaukee Bucks. Boston took on Milwaukee on Sunday in Game 4.

Via ESPN:

Right now, [a Game 6 return is] the plan and we’re still on the same track,” Smart said before Game 4 on Sunday. “I’ve been doing everything but contact, so I will be able to go and start that.”

Smart said he believes the thumb is ready for contact.

“The surgery did its job,” said Smart, who injured himself March 11 while diving for a loose ball in a game against the Indiana Pacers. “Thumb is holding up well. I feel ready, I feel strong enough to get back out there. I’m just waiting on the OK.”

The series between the Celtics and Bucks has been tumultuous, a back-and-forth affair as an injury-riddled Boston squad takes on a healthy but offensively-sluggish Milwaukee team. Smart could add a shot of life for Boston in a much-needed way.

The Bucks won Game 4 and the series is now tied, 2-2. Game 6 would be on Thursday, April 26 if need be.

Manu Ginobili leads Spurs over Warriors

2 Comments

Although the San Antonio Spurs were outmatched against the Golden State Warriors, Manu Ginobili was an integral part of the Spurs staving off elimination against the reigning champs on Sunday. San Antonio beat the Warriors, 103-90, to put the series at 3-1.

The 40-year-old wingman scored 10 of his 16 points in the fourth quarter in San Antonio as Ettore Messina logged a playoff win at the helm of the team. Gregg Popovich, who sadly lost his wife this past week, did not coach.

Ginobili was 5-of-10 off the bench, adding five assists and three rebounds in the win. LaMarcus Aldridge led all Spurs scorers with 22, notching a double-double with 10 rebounds.

Meanwhile, the only Warriors player to score more than 12 points was Kevin Durant, who rose above all scorers with 34 points to go with 13 rebounds. Klay Thompson shot an embarrassing 25 percent from the field, scoring just 12 points.

Ginobili put the dagger on the Warriors with 90 seconds to go, hitting a spinning flip shot over Draymond Green to give San Antonio a 10-point lead.

The series heads back to Oakland for Game 5 with the Spurs trailing, 3-1.

Kevin Durant on Giannis Antetokounmpo: ‘I would tell him to play for himself’

Getty
5 Comments

Kevin Durant was once the big star in a little city. The former Oklahoma City Thunder star now plays for the Golden State Warriors, and has a championship ring to his name after making a switch in 2016.

So Durant has at least some experience similar to that of Milwaukee Bucks star Giannis Antetokounmpo. The Greek Freak is currently leading the charge for the Bucks against the Boston Celtics in the first round, and he’s seen as the future in Milwaukee. Antetokounmpo signed a 4-year, $100 million contract in the summer of 2016, so presumably he’ll be in Wisconsin for some time.

Meanwhile, Durant had some advice for Antetokounmpo, should he ask for it. In a feature on ESPN, Durant was quoted as saying he felt Antetokounmpo should be sure to have fun, and to play for himself.

Via ESPN:

What I would say to him, I would tell him to play for himself,” Durant said. “Because he’s the one out there putting in the work, he’s the one out there getting up in the morning staying committed to the game. Obviously [the comments about staying put] sounds good to the fans in Milwaukee and to the ownership, because he cares so much about wanting to please them and play well for them, and I get it. But his career is about him; it’s about whatever he wants to do and however he feels is right for him. And what type of basketball does he want to play? He’s not going to stay in Milwaukee if he’s not having fun playing the game.

That’s some pretty good advice, although factors surrounding Antetokounmpo will likely weigh the same as they did on Durant in OKC. The Bucks presumably need a new coach once their season ends. They’re currently helmed by interim coach Joe Prunty, who took over when Jason Kidd was fired earlier this year.

The Bucks also need to fill out their roster and find a way to stay healthy. The Thunder famously had roster issues (read: the James Harden trade) and eventually the lack of playoff success drove Durant to switch teams.

Milwaukee doesn’t seem close to that kind of juncture, although eventually things will flip for the young Bucks and fans and management will expect some kind of production in the postseason.

Giannis Antetokounmpo beats Celtics with late-game tip-in; series tied 2-2

7 Comments

It was an exciting finish in Milwaukee on Sunday, where the Bucks took home a win on their home court to level the series against the Boston Celtics, 2-2.

The game came down to the wire, with 2016-17 NBA Rookie of the Year Malcolm Brogdon giving the Bucks the lead after a corner 3-pointer with just 33.5 seconds left. The Celtics responded with a sideline out of bounds play that resulted in Al Horford tying the game with free throws.

On their final possession, the Bucks again went to Brogdon, who missed on a layup driving to the left side of the floor. Luckily, Giannis Antetokounmpo was there to follow with the tip-in with just five seconds left.

Via ESPN:

Boston was unable to convert on a final play, and Milwaukee grabbed the win, 104-102.

Game 5 will be in Boston on Tuesday.