• Leonard scores 31 as Spurs thrash slumping Lakers

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    Kawhi Leonard
    AFP PHOTO

    LOS ANGELES: Kawhi Leonard poured in 31 points in just three quarters as the San Antonio Spurs dominated in every facet of play Thursday (Friday in Manila) with a emphatic 134-94 blowout of the Los Angeles Lakers.

    San Antonio’s 134 points were a season high, as were the 72 points scored by the Spurs in the first half and the overall margin of victory of 40 points.

    Pau Gasol added 22 points for San Antonio, while LaMarcus Aldridge and Tony Parker added 13 each, all in just three quarters of the lopsided game.

    The Spurs also got 12 points from Jonathan Simmons and 10 from Dejounte Murray and a game-high 12 rebounds from Dewayne Dedmon.

    San Antonio was a bad mood heading into Thursday’s home game after losing by three points to the Milwaukee Bucks on Tuesday.

    The Spurs took out their frustrations on a meek Laker team as four of San Antonio’s starters finished in double figures at AT&T Center.

    “I respect the way the Spurs played tonight — granted we didn’t put up a ton of fight — but it’s beautiful to see championship teams and the way they came out after one loss,” Lakers coach Luke Walton said.

    “How (that loss) made them play and how sharp they were — there’s a lot to learn from being in this game, from watching them. I didn’t think we showed up to meet the challenge.”

    All 13 players who took the floor for San Antonio scored, and the Spurs (31-8) outshot Los Angeles 60 percent to 41 percent.

    “You always want to handle a loss by bouncing back the next night,” Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said.

    The lowly Lakers dropped to 15-28 on the season. They were once the “Showtime” darlings of the NBA but have been on a steady downward spiral ever since the passing of club owner and team architect Jerry Buss in 2013.

    The Lakers were led Thursday by Julius Randle’s 22 points, but the rest of Los Angeles’ starters managed just 20 total points.

    In New York, Tyreke Evans scored 14 of his season-high 29 points in the fourth quarter and the New Orleans Pelicans overcame the absence of Anthony Davis with a 104-95 victory over the Brooklyn Nets.

    Evans made 10 of 15 shots in a season-high 27 minutes. He missed the first 26 games of the season while recovering from knee surgery.

    Season-high total
    It was the first time he scored more than 25 points since January 10 against the Los Angeles Clippers.

    Davis missed his second game of the season because of a left hip injury.

    The Pelicans received little help from centers Omer Asik and Donatas Motiejunas, who combined for one point on zero-of-seven shooting.

    Elsewhere, Klay Thompson and Andre Iguodala connected on a pair of three-pointers apiece during a long-range shooting exhibition that powered the Golden State Warriors to a 127-107 win over the Detroit Pistons.

    Riding double-figure scoring from four starters, the Pistons were down 68-65 in the fourth minute of the third period before the Warriors stepped up their play to earn a season-series sweep.

    James leads all-star ballotting with more than a million votes
    Cleveland Cavaliers superstar LeBron James remains the top overall vote-getter in the second returns of NBA all-star fan balloting announced, with more than one million votes.

    Three-time NBA champion James, already 12-time NBA all-star, has received 1.06 million votes and leads Milwaukee’s Giannis Antetokounmpo (963,110) in voting for Eastern Conference frontcourt players.

    Cleveland’s Kyrie Irving, a three-time all-star, is first among backcourt players in the East with 971,362 votes, ahead of the 514,866 of Chicago Bulls star Dwyane Wade.

    In the Western Conference, Golden State’s Stephen Curry, the reigning two-time Most Valuable Player, leads all vote-getters with 990,390 in voting for backcourt players.

    Warriors teammate Kevin Durant leads the list of frontcourt players (987,479).

    In revised voting procedures this year, fans account for 50 percent of the all-star vote, and the remaining 50 percent is divided among media members and NBA players.

    The five players (two guards and three frontcourt players) with the best score in each conference will be named NBA All-Star Game starters. Voting concludes on January 16 and the starters for the February 19 All-Star Game in New Orleans will be announced on January 19.

    AFP

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