Basketball

Spurs star Leonard makes comeback but can't prevent loss to Dallas

Spurs star makes comeback from injury but can't prevent shock defeat by Dallas

Kawhi Leonard made his long-awaited return from injury but could not stop San Antonio from an upset defeat in Dallas yesterday morning (Singapore time).

Leonard, who missed the first 27 games of the season due to a thigh muscle injury, made an impressive cameo in his 15 minutes on court, scoring 13 points and pulling down six rebounds.

But when Leonard exited as expected early in the third quarter soon after helping the Spurs to a 55-50 lead, the Mavericks came back into the contest to run out 95-89 winners at the American Airlines Center.

On his star forward's return to action, San Antonio coach Gregg Popovich said: "I thought he was wonderful.

"He's trying to get some rust off and that kind of thing. Obviously, he's confident.

"He's a heck of a player, and it was really frustrating for him to just start getting loose and have to come off the court."

Leonard said his time on the sidelines has even made him miss losing games.

He said: "I'm just happy to be out there, just to play the game and enjoy the things I missed - missing shots, losing games, making mistakes, just everything.

"I missed everything on the court."

The defeat was a jolt for San Antonio, who fell to 19-9 for the season. The Mavs improved to 8-20, led by 17 points from Harrison Barnes.

I’m just happy to be out there, just to play the game and enjoy the things I missed. San Antonio Spurs forward Kawhi Leonard

Meanwhile, in Cleveland, the Cavaliers rained down a bombardment of three-pointers on the Atlanta Hawks to secure a 123-114 win for their ninth straight win.

Cleveland bagged a season-high 20 three-pointers during the game, with LeBron James scoring 25 points and tying a career-high 17 assists.

Kyle Korver had 19 points - including six three-pointers - while Kevin Love had 17 points and 12 rebounds. Jose Calderon had 14 points.

The Cavaliers improved to 20-8 and have now won 15 of their last 16 games to keep the pressure on Eastern Conference pace-setters the Boston Celtics. - WIRE SERVICES

OTHER RESULTS

Detroit 84 Denver 103, NY Knicks 113 LA Lakers 109 (OT), Brooklyn 103 Washington 98, Minnesota 112 Philadelphia 118 (OT), Sacramento 99 Phoenix 92

Basketball