Leonard powers Spurs past Raptors

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Kawhi Leonard AFP FILE PHOTO

Kawhi Leonard AFP FILE PHOTO

LOS ANGELES: A late points spree by Kawhi Leonard saw the San Antonio Spurs preserve their remarkable unbeaten home record on Saturday (Sunday in Manila) with a 102-95 victory over the Toronto Raptors.

Leonard weighed in with a career-best 33 points — including eight in the final minute — as the Spurs extended their winning streak at the AT&T Center to 39 games this year, 48 unbeaten overall since last season.

San Antonio’s unbeaten run at home is the second longest in NBA history behind the Golden State Warriors’ record of 54, which came to an end with an upset defeat against Boston on Friday.

The Spurs have only two regular season home games remaining — including one against the Western Conference leaders San Antonio — which means they will have to wait until next year for a chance to set a new record.


Leonard’s decisive contribution came in the closing stages with San Antonio looking vulnerable as they clung to an 88-84 lead.

However Leonard’s presence settled the Spurs, and he nailed two contested jumpers before sinking four straight free throws to ensure the win.

San Antonio’s victory saw them improve to 64-13 for the season, a franchise record for wins which surpassed the 2005-2006 team’s previous best mark of 63-19.

Significantly as they look towards the postseason, the Spurs have beaten every team in the NBA this year.

San Antonio’s latest win also saw LaMarcus Aldridge contribute 31 points and 15 rebounds while Tim Duncan made 11 rebounds.

Toronto’s points scoring was led by Norman Powell with 17, one of six players to make double figures on the night.

The Raptors improved to 51-25, cementing their place as the second-ranked team in the Eastern Conference behind the Cleveland Cavaliers who lead with 54-22.

Chicago’s hopes of reaching the playoffs receded further after Reggie Jackson scored 22 points and Tobias Harris 21 to help the Detroit Pistons to a 94-90 win over the Bulls at the United Center.

Detroit are now in control of their playoff destiny with a record of 41-36 in the Eastern Conference standings.

The Indiana Pacers occupy the eighth and final playoff spot from the conference, moving to 40-36 after beating the Philadelphia 76ers by 115-102.

The Pacers were made to sweat for the win however, taking the lead with 3:39 left after C.J. Miles sunk a three-pointer, part of a personal haul of 25 points from the bench.

“We’re satisfied with winning,” said forward Paul George.

“We’re not satisfied with how we won. Give them credit. They play hard, they played us all the way through, made us win this at the last two minutes.”

Chicago meanwhile is just outside the postseason places at 38-38, putting them at risk of missing the postseason for the first time since 2008.

AFP

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