Leonard to miss Spurs’ shot at history along with 3 others
SAN ANTONIO (AP) The San Antonio Spurs will be without Kawhi Leonard, fellow starter Danny Green and two key reserves against Memphis on Friday night when they attempt to match the longest home winning streak to open a season.
Leonard suffered a bruised right quadriceps midway through the third quarter of San Antonio’s 112-88 victory over Miami on Wednesday night. His return is unknown, but the injury is not considered serious.
It was the Spurs’ 36th straight home victory to open the season, which is one shy of matching the league record set by the Chicago Bulls in 1995-96.
Leonard was injured after being fouled by Heat rookie Justise Winslow on a driving layup. San Antonio’s 6-foot-7, All-Star forward remained in the game to complete the three-point play and match his career high of 32 points, but exited thereafter with team trainer Will Sevening following close behind.
“He had to come out when he did because his leg was just ... it was a good contusion so it was just stiff, it wouldn’t work,” Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said. “So, he had to come out. To put him back in wouldn’t have made any sense.”
In addition to being without Leonard, San Antonio is sitting Green and reserves Boris Diaw and Patty Mills for rest on Friday.
Popovich routinely rests his veteran players throughout the arduous, 82-game regular season to help them remain fresh and healthy for the postseason.
The Spurs were fined $250,000 by then-NBA commissioner David Stern when Popovich sent Green, Tim Duncan, Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili home for rest on Nov. 29, 2012, rather than having them play Miami in the final game of a six-game road trip.
Stern said the fine was due to a litany of transgressions, but primarily because San Antonio did not alert the league or media of the players’ unavailability prior to the game.
Since then, the Spurs have announced in advance which players will rest.
Being without Leonard, Green, Diaw and Mills could be troublesome Wednesday, even though the Grizzlies are without injured starters Marc Gasol and Mike Conley.
Memphis holds a four-game lead over Portland for the fifth seed in the Western Conference.
San Antonio has an 11-game lead over Oklahoma City for the West’s second seed and trails Golden State by four for the top seed.
The Spurs have won 45 straight regular-season home games dating to March 2015, which matches the 1995-96 Bulls for the second-longest streak in league history and trails the Warriors’ current 51-game winning streak.