Spurs, missing 3 starters, improve to 30-0 at home

Associated Press
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SAN ANTONIO (AP) — Kawhi Leonard had 25 points and 13 rebounds and Manu Ginobili added 22 points in his return from a gruesome injury, leading short-handed San Antonio to a 104-94 victory over the Sacramento Kings on Saturday night as the Spurs improved to 30-0 at home.

The Spurs won their eighth straight and extended their franchise record start to 53-9 despite the absence of starters LaMarcus Aldridge, Tim Duncan and Danny Green.

Manu Ginobili had 22 points in his return from a 12-game absence, showing no physical or psychological effects from testicle surgery on Feb. 5. The 38-year-old veteran fearlessly drove into the lane from the right side of the key in the third quarter, going between Sacramento’s Willie Cauley-Stein and Omri Casspi to score on a left-handed layup on the left side of the rim. Ginobili earlier stood in front of a charging Cauley-Stein and fouled the 7-foot center while stripping him of the ball on the layup attempt.

The dynamic Argentine’s return was a needed boost with Duncan and Green sitting out to rest and Aldridge out due to a migraine headache.

DeMarcus Cousins and Rajon Rondo had an easier time running the pick-and-roll with Duncan and Aldridge out. Quincy Acy also benefited early, scoring 14 points in the first half on 6-for-6 shooting. Cousins finished with 31 points.

Acy only had two points in the second half, though, as the Spurs’ interior defense stiffened.

Sacramento was unable to score in the opening 5 1/2 minutes of the second half. The Kings were 0 for 7 with three turnovers before Casspi made a 6-foot floating jumper with 6:47 remaining in the third quarter. Sacramento finished with 13 points in the third, avoiding matching a season-low for a Spurs’ opponent in the quarter when Casspi threw down a dunk with 28.6 seconds left in the period.

TIP-INS

Kings: Rondo had nine points and eight assists in 37 minutes despite a multitude of ailments. The Kings’ point guard has a right ankle sprain, sprained right thumb, sprained right first metatarsophalangeal joint sprain and turf toe. … C Kostas Koufos missed the game with food poisoning. … The Kings have lost seven straight in San Antonio. Their last victory here was Jan. 20, 2012.

Spurs: San Antonio has the fourth-longest home winning streak in league history, breaking a tie with the 1985-86 Boston Celtics. The Golden State Warriors have won 44 straight home games dating back to last season, tying the ’95-’96 Bulls for the league’s longest winning streak. … Simmons made his first career start, filling in for Green. The rookie missed his only two shots, going scoreless in 16 minutes.