HOUSTON — After last night's BBVA Rising Stars Challenge which pitted Team Chuck, coached by San Antonio Spurs Assistant Coach Mike “Bud” Budenholzer, versus Team Shaq, coached by David Fizdale of the Miami Heat. Budenholzer was asked if he was given orders by Head Coach Gregg Popovich to limit Kawhi Leonard’s minutes during the game. His response was Pop's orders were clear heading into the contest.
“I think being around Coach Pop as long as I have, I felt the pressure without him saying a word,” said Budenholzer.
Budenholzer continued, "But Pop told us all just to enjoy the night. And there was no limit restrictions on Kawhi."
With that said, coach Budenholzer was given the green-light to go for a win in tonight’s game against Team Shaq.
Kenneth Faried led the way for Team Chuck ub a 163-135 victory, with 40 points, 10 rebounds, and 2 assists. Team Shaq was led by Kyrie Irving with 32 points, 6 rebounds, and 6 assists with 70% shooting from the field.
Leonard came through with 20 points and 7 rebounds (2 on the offensive end) in 22 minutes for his team.This is a great sign for the second half of the Spurs' season, especially in the playoffs where teams will focus on stopping the "Big 3" of Manu Ginobili, Tim Duncan, and Tony Parker.
During the Oklahoma City Thunder, the team was limited to perimeter shooting and the shots didn't fall. With his athleticism, Leonard should be attacking the rim more and forcing the referees to make that call and get him to the line. The increase in aggressiveness will also make his outside game that more deadly.
Kudos to Kawhi for showing the NBA what Spurs fans already knew. Now we need for Kawhi to become a consistent offensive weapon that will take the Spurs to the NBA Finals and beyond.