Mavericks spoil Leonard’s return with 95-89 win over Spurs
DALLAS (AP) — Kawhi Leonard strolled to the locker room late in third quarter, just as J.J. Barea was starting a Dallas rally that spoiled the season debut of San Antonio’s star forward.
The minutes restriction was up for Leonard after he missed the first 27 games with a right quadriceps injury, so there wasn’t anything he could do in the fourth quarter about Barea and the last-place Mavericks ending another four-game winning streak for the Spurs.
Barea scored 14 of his 16 points in the second half and alley-oop dunk partner Dwight Powell had 12 points and 12 rebounds in the Mavericks’ 95-89 win on Tuesday night.
“I understand the situation that I’m in and we’re thinking about down the road,” said Leonard, who had 13 points in 16 minutes — roughly the first 5 minutes in each of the first three quarters.
Leonard, who has been recovering from a quadriceps condition that causes pain and weakness in the knee, made his first three shots and scored six of San Antonio’s first eight points.
It was his first action since Game 1 of the Western Conference finals last season, when he injured his left ankle in what was eventually a sweep for Golden State on its way to the NBA title.
Leonard finished with a flourish as well, tipping a loose ball a couple of times to keep an offensive rebound alive and hitting a short jumper. But soon after that play in the third quarter, Leonard looked winded as he headed to the bench following a timeout. His night was over.
“I’m just happy to be out there, just to play the game and enjoy the things I missed — missing shots, losing games, making mistakes, just everything,” said Leonard, who had…