Kawhi Leonard’s 36 points lead Spurs by Thunder, Russell Westbrook, 108-94

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SAN ANTONIO (AP) Kawhi Leonard scored 36 points and the San Antonio Spurs held Russell Westbrook scoreless in the fourth quarter for a 108-94 victory over the Oklahoma City Thunder on Tuesday night.

Westbrook had 27 points, 14 assists and six rebounds in 34 minutes, but was shut out after scoring 14 points in the third. Rookie forward Domantas Sabonis matched a season high with 13 rebounds and had 13 points. The Thunder’s bench was outscored 32-22.

LaMarcus Aldridge added 25 points for San Antonio, which improved to 17-6 at home.

Spurs coach Gregg Popovich collected his 1,126th career victory, leaving him one shy of tying the league record for most wins with one franchise held by Utah’s Jerry Sloan.

Leonard had 12 points in the final quarter, including a dynamic three-point play for a 91-81 lead. The 6-foot-7 forward crossed over Victor Oladipo near the 3-point line, leapt past contact from Steven Adams and glided under the basket for a left-handed reverse layup.

Westbrook sparked a 23-4 run in the third that erased an 18-point deficit and gave the Thunder a 69-68 lead.

Danny Green helped limit Westbrook in the opening 16 minutes, blocking his 3-point attempt in the first quarter and drawing consecutive offensive fouls on the mercurial point guard in the second period.

San Antonio held Oklahoma City to 17 points in the first quarter, one shy of matching an opponent’s lowest total in the opening period.


Thunder: Oklahoma City finished 7-8 in January, its first month with a losing record this season. . Westbrook, Sabonis and Andre Roberson have started all 49 games. . Oklahoma City played eight of its last nine games on the road, closing that stretch with a 4-5 record. The Thunder will play nine of their next 11 at home. . Thunder coach Billy Donovan was assessed a technical foul with 9:34 remaining for arguing over a pair of non-calls on consecutive possessions. Leonard made the ensuing free throw, but officials determined he was not in the game when the technical took place. Officials had Patty Mills retake the free throw, which he made. . The Thunder had 13 turnovers in the first half, the most by a Spurs opponent this season.

Spurs: Manu Ginobili played in his 964th career game, moving past Boston Celtics Hall of Famer Bill Russell for 154th all-time. . San Antonio has used 17 different starting lineups this season. . The Spurs have scored 100-plus points in 25 straight games, their longest streak since 29 straight in 1987-88. . Leonard has scored in double figures in 77 straight games, the franchise’s longest streak since Tim Duncan had 91 in 2002-03. Hall of Famer George Gervin owns the franchise record with 406 straight games in double figures from Nov. 21, 1978, to Dec. 16, 1983.


Thunder: Host Chicago on Wednesday night.

Spurs: Host Philadelphia on Thursday night.

Rumor: Injured Jimmy Butler wore his jersey under shirt and jacket on Timberwolves bench

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Jimmy Butler‘s competitive fire burns hot.

How hot?

Butler is chomping at the bit to return from his knee injury. He sat on the Timberwolves’ bench during their loss to the Rockets last night wearing what appeared to be typical attire for a sidelined player. But dig deeper, and…

Marc Stein of The New York Times:

This story is too good to check out.

Kevin Love returns to Cavaliers lineup Monday vs. Bucks

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The last time Kevin Love suited up for the Cavaliers, it was still January and Isaiah Thomas, Dwyane Wade, and Jae Crowder were still on the team.

That is about to change tonight — Love will return from a fractured hand and play for the Cavaliers, but on a minutes restriction to start, interim coach Larry Drew confirmed.

Cleveland needs Love back. The Cavaliers went 11-9 without him in this stretch (and 6-7 since the All-Star break) with an offense that has still been top 10 in the NBA but a defense that is holding them back. The Cavaliers’ defense is just not on the same page right now, and the more time the regular rotations guys get to play together, the better they should be before the playoffs start.

As Love rounds into form, the Cavaliers have to figure out their rotations. Does Love start Love next to Larry Nance Jr., or does Nance come off the bench again? Probably the latter, but the Cavaliers will toy with the rotations (and do that more when Tristan Thompson returns).

Former NBA All-Star Steve Francis cited for public intoxication

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What happened to Steve Francis [after his playing days]? I was drinking heavily, is what happened. And that can be just as bad (as drug use). In the span of a few years I lost basketball, I lost my whole identity, and I lost my stepfather, who committed suicide.”
—Steve Francis, writing in the Players’ Tribune earlier this month, about his journey from selling crack to the NBA, and what happened after.

Addiction, once it’s got you, never goes away. The fight to stay sober/clean is a new one every day.

Steve Francis was cited for public intoxication in Burbank, Calif., after an incident at a hotel bar, according to TMZ (since confirmed by other reports).

Francis, 41, was arrested around 11:40 PM after police were called for a disturbance between two men at a hotel in Burbank.

Law enforcement sources tell us when cops arrived, Francis was intoxicated. He was arrested for being drunk in public.

Francis was transported to jail … before being given a citation and released around 7 AM Monday morning.

Francis denied in the Players’ Tribune article rumors he had a drug problem, but he owned up to drinking.

Lakers coach Luke Walton: I thought Pacers’ Paul George trade was ‘lopsided’ in favor of Thunder

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Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert said the Pacers “could have done better” than trading Paul George to the Thunder for Victor Oladipo and Domantas Sabonis.

Gilbert would have company with egg on their face if more people shared their views on the deal when it happened.

Lakers coach Luke Walton – whose team plays Indiana tonight – joined the club with an admission.



Originally, I thought it was kind of a lopsided trade, but I’m man enough to admit that I was wrong. Indiana has, I think they’re probably the surprise team of the season so far. They’re playing unbelievable. They have that three seed. And both of those players they got in the trade, they’re playing some really, really good basketball. So, obviously, a good trade for both teams.

Me too, Luke. Me too.

George is basically who we thought he was. But Oladipo and Sabonis have taken major steps forward. Sabonis’ growth as a second-year player was more predictable. Oladipo’s breakthrough seemed far less likely – and has carried far larger ramifications.

Oladipo was fine in Oklahoma City and Orlando, but he got into the best shape of his life and developed his outside shooting, particularly off the dribble. He has become a true star, putting up big offensive numbers while remaining a plus defender.

All the credit goes to Oladipo for making it happen and Pacers president Kevin Pritchard for ensuring Indiana reaped the rewards. I bet even Pritchard is surprised by Oladipo’s level of play, but Pritchard bet on Oladipo. Pritchard gets credit for the outcome.

People like Walton and myself eat crow.