Leonard returns with 31, Spurs top Hawks, tie for No. 1 seed
San Antonio Spurs forward Kawhi Leonard (2) drives to the basket against Atlanta Hawks defenders Thabo Sefolosha (25) and Kent Bazemore (24) during the first half of an NBA basketball game, in San Antonio. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)
By Raul Dominguez, Associated Press
SAN ANTONIO (AP) -- Kawhi Leonard scored 31 points in his return from a concussion and the San Antonio Spurs tied Golden State for the NBA's best record with a 107-99 victory over the Atlanta Hawks on Monday night (Tuesday, PHL time).
San Antonio made a season-high 16 three-pointers in its 19th straight home victory over Atlanta. The Spurs and Warriors are 52-14 with 16 games remaining, including the final regular-season matchup between them on March 29 (March 30, PHL time).
Atlanta point guard Dennis Schroder had 22 points and 10 assists, shooting 10-for-22 from the field. Tim Hardaway Jr. added 17 points, but the Hawks had their three-game winning streak snapped.
San Antonio's Patty Mills had 15 points and Danny Green added 14. The starting guards combined to shoot 7-for-12 on three-pointers and the team finished 16-for-34 on three’s.
David Lee had 14 points in place of LaMarcus Aldridge, who missed his second straight game with a minor heart arrhythmia. Aldridge's status remains unknown.
The Spurs were also without injured point guards Tony Parker and Dejounte Murray, but Leonard returned from a one-game absence after suffering a concussion in the second half against Oklahoma City last Thursday (Friday, PHL time).
Leonard made five straight shots, including a step-back, fadeway jumper at the close of the first quarter, after missing his first two attempts. The buzzer-beating shot gave San Antonio its first double-digit lead at 28-18.
The lead swelled to 15 but the Hawks were able to rally behind a season-high 23 turnovers by the Spurs.
Atlanta outscored San Antonio 14-8 in the opening five minutes of the fourth quarter, pulling to 89-87 on Hardaway's baseline drive and dunk.
Hawks: Atlanta has not won in San Antonio since Feb. 15, 1997. Mike Dunleavy missed his eighth straight game with an inflamed right ankle. Dunleavy has played in 19 games for Atlanta since being acquired in a trade with Cleveland. The Hawks are 22-14 since Dec. 28 (Dec. 29, PHL time). The Hawks have 15 games remaining, including seven at home, as they battle for one of the East's top four seeds. Atlanta is 33-9 when scoring 100-plus. Atlanta, which is averaging 23.6 assists per game, had 27.
Spurs: San Antonio coach Gregg Popovich said Aldridge underwent further tests Monday (Tuesday, PHL time) outside of San Antonio but his status remains unknown. “No, we're just going to wait until he comes back and assess him,” Popovich said. “I think he'll be back either tomorrow morning or tonight, I don't know which.” Leonard has scored at least 19 points in his last 28 games, including 20-plus in 24 of those outings. Parker missed his third straight game with back stiffness. The 34-year-old has missed 13 games this season due to injury and sat out two others for rest. Murray missed his second straight game with a left groin injury. C Pau Gasol played in his 1,104th career game, moving past former Spurs and Mavericks star Michael Finley for 64th in league history.
Hawks: Host Memphis on Thursday night (Friday, PHL time).
Spurs: Host Portland on Wednesday night (Thursday, PHL time).