LEONARD SHINES FOR SPURS

Scores 34 points to help San An­to­nio level play­off se­ries against Rock­ets

New Straits Times - - Sport -

KAWHI Leonard scored a game-high 34 points as the San An­to­nio Spurs de­feated the Hous­ton Rock­ets 121-96 on Wed­nes­day to level their NBA play­off se­ries at one game each.

Leonard also de­liv­ered eight as­sists and seven re­bounds for the Spurs, who now travel to Hous­ton for games three and four of the best-of-seven sec­ond round Western Con­fer­ence se­ries.

“We were fo­cused,” Leonard said. “We lost by 30 points last game so we didn’t want to dis­ap­point the fans.”

San An­to­nio’s win could prove to be costly be­cause of an in­jury to guard Tony Parker. The French­man had to be car­ried off the floor by team­mates with 8:43 re­main­ing af­ter suf­fer­ing a left leg in­jury.

Mean­while, LeBron James reached another milestone and the Cleve­land Cava­liers nailed 18 shots from be­yond the arc en route to a 125-103 rout of the Toronto Rap­tors in their East play­off se­ries.

San An­to­nio led 97-83 at the time of Parker’s in­jury. The in­ci­dent took place when Parker missed a short lay-up and landed un­der­neath the Rock­ets’ bas­ket. He had scored 18 points be­fore leav­ing the game.

Parker clutched his left knee as he lay on the floor. He was carted off by team­mates De­wayne Ded­mon and De­jounte Mur­ray and did not look up as the crowd chanted his name.

“I just hope he is OK be­cause we need him the next game,” Leonard said.

Parker was to un­dergo an MRI scan yes­ter­day.

Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said of Parker, “It is not good.”

LaMar­cus Aldridge scored 15 points for the Spurs while Jonathon Sim­mons added 14 points and Danny Green scored his 12 points all in the first half.

In Cleve­land, James be­came the NBA’s sec­ond all-time lead­ing scorer in the post­sea­son with a 39-point per­for­mance as the Cava­liers crushed the Toronto Rap­tors in game two.

James nailed a three pointer in the sec­ond half to sur­pass Ka­reem Ab­dul-Jab­bar (5,762 points) for sec­ond place. Michael Jor­dan is first with 5,987 play­off points.

“You find some­body to stop LeBron in these mo­ments, I’ll give you US$100,” Toronto’s DeMar DeRozan said.

The win gives Cleve­land a 2-0 se­ries lead but game three is in Toronto to­day.

James also joined Ray Allen, Reg­gie Miller and Manu Gi­no­bili to be­come the fourth player in league his­tory to make 300 play­off three-point­ers in a ca­reer. And he now has 89 play­off games with at least 30 points, which moved him past Kobe Bryant. Only Jor­dan (109) has more.

James scored 17 points in the third quar­ter to give Cleve­land a 99-73 lead head­ing into the fourth.

“I’m feel­ing pretty good,” James said. “My team­mates do a great job of putting me in po­si­tion. My coach­ing staff do a great job of putting me in po­si­tion to be suc­cess­ful.

“And, I put a lot of work in on my craft and I live with the re­sults. Just blessed I’m able to make a few plays tonight to help us win another game.”

Kyrie Irv­ing added 22 points and 11 as­sists for Cleve­land, who also re­ceived 18 points from Chan­ning Frye. Iman Shumpert came off the bench to score 14 for the Cava­liers, who eas­ily won game one 116105 on Mon­day.

The Rap­tors were led by Jonas Valan­ci­u­nas who had 23 points. All-Star guard Kyle Lowry scored 20 points but in­jured his left an­kle in the third quar­ter and was out of the game for good by the fourth.

The Rap­tors have never won a play­off se­ries when trail­ing 0-2 and are now a dis­mal 1-6 in game two’s on the road.

DeRozan, the Rap­tors’ lead­ing scorer this sea­son, was lim­ited to five points on two-of-11 shoot­ing.

“It sucks. To lose like we did,” DeRozan said. “Now I just have the added time hav­ing to wait till Fri­day night to re­deem my­self.”

2nd Rd Play­off Re­sults (be­stof-seven se­ries) — Eastern Con­fer­ence: Cleve­land 125 Toronto 103 (Cleve­land lead 2-0); Western Con­fer­ence: San An­to­nio 121 Hous­ton 96 (Tied 1-1). AFP

AFP PIC

Spurs’ Kawhi Leonard (right) at­tempts to score with Rock­ets’ Clint Capela de­fend­ing in their game in San An­to­nio on Wed­nes­day.

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