NBA: Leonard, Murray power Spurs past Nuggets

Agence France-Presse

Posted at Jan 20 2017 02:19 PM

San Antonio Spurs small forward Kawhi Leonard (2) grabs a rebound as Denver Nuggets power forward Kenneth Faried (35) defends at AT&T Center. Soobum Im, USA TODAY Sports/Reuters

LOS ANGELES -- All-Star Game starter Kawhi Leonard scored 34 points and rookie Dejounte Murray added a career-high 24 as the San Antonio Spurs defeated the Denver Nuggets, 118-104, on Thursday.

Leonard, who earlier in the day was named an NBA All-Star starter for the second straight year, posted his fifth consecutive game with at least 30 points while Murray, 20, becomes the youngest player in franchise history to score 24 or more points in a game. 

"I am just happy my hard work is paying off. This is just another step in my career. Hopefully I can keep it going," said Leonard of the all-star nod.

But the win could prove costly for the Spurs. Thirty minutes before tipoff, the Spurs announced that point guard Tony Parker would miss the game because of left foot pain.

And it got worse when center Pau Gasol broke his ring finger on his left hand during pregame warm up. Gasol went straight to the San Antonio locker room and did not return. 

The Spurs announced the injury during the second quarter.

"He is going to be out for a while," Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said.
David Lee added 10 points and a season-high 16 rebounds for San Antonio, which improved to 33-9 and won for the sixth time in eight games.

The Spurs also got 14 points from Manu Ginobili and 10 points from LaMarcus Aldridge, who added six assists.

Denver was led by Nikola Jokic's career-high 35 points and 12 rebounds, while Will Barton added 18 points. Jamal Murray scored 13 and Emmanuel Mudiay hit for 12 for the Nuggets, who had a three-game winning streak snapped. 

Popovich was ejected from the game after arguing a foul call with 1:36 to play in the second quarter and the game tied 51-51. It was his first ejection of the season.

The Spurs led, 59-58, at the half as Leonard scored 13 points and Murray added 10.

Jokic led all scorers at intermission with 17 points while Murray added 11 points off the bench.

The Spurs opened the second half with a 15-0 run. 

'Road win'

Elsewhere, John Wall finished with 29 points and 13 assists for his 25th double-double of the season, leading the Washington Wizards to a 113-110 win over the New York Knicks at Madison Square Garden.

Wall's two free throws with 32 seconds to play gave Washington a 111-110 lead after Derrick Rose had given the Knicks a 110-109 lead with 48 seconds left.

Carmelo Anthony missed a jumper with 18 seconds to go that would have tied the score. Anthony scored 34 points and had 10 rebounds for the Knicks. Kristaps Porzingis scored 15 points in his first game back from an Achilles injury.

Washington has won 13 straight home games, but is just 5-13 on the road where they will play four of their next five games.

"It's good to get a road win," said Wizards coach Scott Brooks. "We've had so many last-second shots on the road that didn't go our way, so it's nice to close out tonight with the win.

"When our offence was a little stagnant at the end, John (Wall) made a couple of big plays. He probably took one or two tough shots, but he makes a lot of winning basketball plays for us."

In Miami, Goran Dragic scored 32 points and clinched the win with two free throws with three seconds left in the game as the Miami Heat defeated the Dallas Mavericks, 99-95.

Miami, which won its second straight game, also got 23 points off the bench from Tyler Johnson. Heat center Hassan Whiteside started quickly but finished with just 13 points and eight rebounds.

Dirk Nowitzki paced the Dallas attack with 19 points as the Mavericks had their three game win streak snapped.

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