After sitting out Sunday’s preseason loss to the Phoenix Suns, San Antonio Spurs forwards Kawhi Leonard and Boris Diaw were back in action Monday in the Spurs’ back-to-back preseason game against the Denver Nuggets.
Minus Tim Duncan, Tony Parker, and Manu Ginobili, the Spurs fell to the Nuggets 98-94, despite 13 points apiece from Leonard and Cory Joseph. Here are a few notes on Leonard and Joseph’s production in their minutes on the floor along with a few other notable players.
Starting in Parker’s place, Joseph came out aggressive to start the game. Whether it was pushing the pace with the ball on offense and setting up his teammates, Joseph was assertive early-on as he finished the first quarter with 11 points, two rebounds, and one assist in 12 minutes. Joseph also held Ty Lawson from getting off to a quick start.
Leonard ran the pick-and-roll on a few possessions and even made a jumper. He also attacked the defense to draw fouls and performed a ‘Eurostep’ for a layup while pushing the pace when he grabbed his rebounds. Leonard finished with six points, five rebounds, and two assists in 9 minutes of the first quarter.
In the second quarter, Leonard became aggressive when he stepped back onto the floor. He was running the pick-and-roll, grabbing rebounds and driving when the opportunity presented itself. Even though he was blocked once and didn’t connect on most of his outside shots, he had two dunks after continuing to attack the basket. On one play, he drove to the middle of the paint and thought he was fouled. When the referee didn’t call the foul he started talking to the referee about the no-call. Leonard went into the half with 10 points, missed 4-of-his-11 shots, grabbed eight rebounds, and had two assists in 14 minutes.
In the third quarter, Leonard continued to stay aggressive on the offensive end adding three more points to his total and two more assists. The one area where he struggled throughout the night was at the free throw line. Leonard earned multiple trips to the line through the course of the three quarters he played in but could only convert on 2-of-8 free throws. Normally, Monday would have been a 20-point type of night had Leonard made those free throws but instead he finished with 13 points (5-of-13 shooting), 12 rebounds, four assists, and one turnover in 21 minutes.
Joseph did not play in the third quarter but got some early minutes in the fourth quarter. Joseph finished the game with 13 points, four rebounds, two assists, and one steal in 23 minutes. With the opportunity to be more aggressive on the offensive end, Joseph only attempted nine shots in the game though he did effectively make six of them.
Other standouts Monday were Tiago Splitter who finished with 12 points, four rebounds, and four assists, but he did have five turnovers in 27 minutes. Aron Baynes also scored eight points and grabbed six rebounds in his 16 minutes, while Nando De Colo accumulated eight points and three assists, but did have four turnovers in his 14 minutes. Training camp hopeful Corey Maggette played 21 minutes in the game but finished with just three points (1-of-8 shooting), shot only two free throws, grabbed five rebounds , and had three turnovers.
With the loss, the Spurs fall to 1-2 in the preseason. They’ll visit former assistant coach Mike Budenholzer and his new team the Atlanta Hawks on Thursday.