Morris powers Pistons, Spurs slip past Cavs in OT

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Kawhi Leonard (No. 2) of the San Antonio Spurs hangs on the net to avoid landing on LeBron James (No. 23) of the Cleveland Cavaliers during overtime at Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland, Ohio.
AFP PHOTO

LOS ANGELES: Kawhi Leonard finished off a dunk in the final seconds of overtime, capping a career high 41-point performance as the San Antonio Spurs outlasted the Cleveland Cavaliers 118-115 on Saturday (Sunday in Manila).

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“I am in a groove,” Leonard said. “My players are getting me the ball in the right spots. I am just trying to win.”

LeBron James tied up Leonard for a jump ball with 13 seconds left and Cleveland behind by three points. James won the tip, but the ball started to go out of bounds when Kevin Love saved it. But his no-look toss behind his back went straight to a surprised Leonard who sprinted to the other end for a dunk and the clinching basket with four seconds left.

The Cavaliers had a chance to send it to double overtime but Love missed a three-point attempt from the corner at the buzzer.

Love shot just three of 11 from the three-point line Saturday.

Leonard surpassed 30 points for the sixth straight game, while LaMarcus Aldridge scored 16 points and grabbed 12 rebounds for the short-handed Spurs.

David Lee scored 14 points and grabbed 11 rebounds while starting in place of injured Pau Gasol. Tony Parker also missed the game with an ankle injury.

James and Kyrie Irving each scored 29 points and Love had 13 points and 11 rebounds for Cleveland. Tristan Thompson had 14 points and 12 rebounds.

James’ deep three-pointer from 30 feet away with 34 seconds left in regulation tied the game 107-107.

Leonard had the job of guarding James most of the night.

“He is a great player. It is always fun playing against a guy like him, who is going to compete on every possession,” Leonard said.

Elsewhere, Marcus Morris delivered a game-winning putback as time expired on the clock to lift the Detroit Pistons to a 113-112 win over the Washington Wizards.

Detroit squandered a 16-point lead in the final quarter before the clutch basket by Morris who finished with a game-high 25 points and 11 rebounds.

The Pistons launched three desperation shots during a mad scramble in the closing seconds leading up to the final buzzer in front of a crowd of 18,200 at The Palace arena.

“I just stayed basically on my side,” he said. “I just stayed with it, crashed the glass and happened to be in a good spot.”

Brotherly mismatch
He leaned over his twin brother, Markieff Morris a Wizards forward, while scoring the basket.

“I grabbed him. I put my hand on his shoulder and I got him back because he blocked my shot the play before that,” Marcus Morris said. “I knew that was him and you can’t make that call at the end of the game.”

Reggie Jackson had 19 points and eight assists and Tobias Harris supplied 18 points, nine rebounds and five assists for the Pistons, who have won three straight.

Joe Leuer came off the bench to score 10 points after missing the previous five games with a knee injury.

Pistons centre Andre Drummond was held to three points because of foul trouble.

John Wall had 19 points, 10 assists and eight rebounds for Washington. Markieff Morris contributed 19 points and nine rebounds, Bradley Beal had 17 points and Jason Smith scored a season-high 16 for the Wizards.

In Charlotte, North Carolina, Nicolas Batum converted a four-point play and hit another three-pointer in a span of 31 seconds down the stretch as the Charlotte Hornets toppled the Brooklyn Nets 112-105.

Batum nailed a three-pointer, was fouled and converted the free throw to give the Hornets the lead for good at 101-98 with 3:21 left.

Then he hit another three-pointer on the Hornets’ next possession to extend the lead to 104-98 with 2:50 remaining. The Hornets stretched the lead to nine from there and never let the Nets get closer than five again.

Hornets coach Steve Clifford has often lamented his team’s fourth-quarter difficulties, but he was pleased with how his team found a way to make plays down the stretch.

“The fourth quarter tonight was really a big deal to me,” Clifford said. “They had the momentum, and we fought hard.”

AFP

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