Kawhi’s career high helps Spurs beat champs
- Updated: January 24, 2017
This time, it means something.
Kawhi Leonard scored a career high 41 points, including the game sealing dunk with under 10 seconds remaining, to help lift the San Antonio Spurs to a big 118-115 win in overtime over the defending NBA champion Cleveland Cavaliers on Saturday night.
A matchup of two of the NBAs best teams lived up to the hype as the Spurs and Cavs went right down to the wire in a possible NBA Finals preview. Cleveland jumped out to an early 11 point lead in the first half before San Antonio went on a run thanks to rookie point Dajounte Murray, who scored 14 points and helped San Antonio get within 58-57 at halftime. ”Great game. Anybody’s game,” Spurs head coach Greg Popovich said. ”Comes down to making shots. At the end of regulation we had some great shots that didn’t go down. In overtime they had some great shots that didn’t go down. It happens.”
Things continued going back and fourth up to the final 12 minutes. With neither side taking control, San Antonio began to make a run. Leonard hit two three pointers in a 21-7 run that was capped by a Lamarcus Aldridge jumper that put San Antonio up 105-96 with under six minutes to go. But Cleveland rallied behind 29 points from Lebron James, who hit a deep 30 foot three pointer to tie the game at 107 and send the game to overtime.
The last time these two went to overtime was two years ago: the infamous “Uncle Drew Game” where Kyrie Irving scored 57 points on 7-7 shooting from three point range. This time around, Irving, who finished 3-8 from three and is 5-15 from three against the Spurs since scoring 57 on them, was unable to produce any magic. He did however give the Cavs a brief 113-111 lead before Patty Mills hit a three pointer with under two minutes left and Aldridge followed by making a jumper to put the Spurs up three. This was followed by a wild sequence in which Cleveland forced a jump ball, and Leonard stole the ball from Kevin Love and went in uncontested for a dunk to put the game away. It was redemption for Leonard, who a week earlier scored a then career high of 38 points, but it didn’t matter because San Antonio lost to the Phoenix Suns. This time, Leonard made sure it mattered.