Kawhi Leonard scored 19 points and pulled down a team-high eight rebounds as the San Antonio Spurs built a big early lead and rolled to a 112-80 win over the Denver Nuggets on Saturday at the AT&T Center in San Antonio.
Leonard was not in the lineup in the Spurs’ previous three games because of a small tear in a muscle in his left shoulder. He also missed the first 27 contests of the season with a quad injury.
The Spurs led by 13 entering the fourth quarter but ended any chance of a Denver comeback by outscoring the Nuggets 19-5 over the next six minutes. San Antonio owned a 101-74 lead with 6:06 to play, relegating the final few minutes to mop-up time for the teams’ reserves.
San Antonio is now 19-2 at home this season; no other team in the NBA has fewer than four home losses. The current streak of 13 straight home victories is the Spurs’ longest since 2015-16, when the franchise record of 48 consecutive wins at home was snapped.
Davis Bertans poured in 18 points (15 of those in the first half), LaMarcus Aldridge hit for 15 points, and Danny Green added 11 of the Spurs, who outshot Denver 52.6 percent to 34.9 percent and owned a 53-25 edge in bench scoring.
Nikola Jokic led the Nuggets with 23 points, nine rebounds and seven assists, and Gary Harris added 18 points. Denver scored just 11 points in the fourth quarter.
The Spurs led by as many as 18 points in the first half before settling for a 56-44 lead at halftime. Denver ended the half on a 13-7 run to cut into the lead, with the final points of the half coming on a 3-pointers by Jokic and Bertans, the two teams’ leading first-half scorers.
Jokic poured in 16 points over the first 24 minutes for the Nuggets while Bertans led the Spurs with 15 points while hitting five 3-pointers before the break.
Denver cut the Spurs’ lead to 56-50 on Jamal Murray’s pullup jumper with 9:51 to play in the third quarter. However, San Antonio roared back, scoring 14 of the game’s next 16 point to re-establish an 18-point margin. The Spurs led 82-69 at the end of the period.
—Field Level Media