Kawhi Leonard is showing signs of hitting his stride and looks to make more progress when the San Antonio Spurs host the New York Knicks on Wednesday. Leonard has played in just five games after suffering a quadriceps injury prior to the campaign but scored 21 points in a season-high 26 minutes of Tuesday’s 109-97 victory over Brooklyn.
Leonard was just 8-of-17 shooting against the Nets but is moving better and starting to recapture the form that landed him in the top three in MVP voting each of the last two seasons. “I don’t feel like I‘m there yet, but I tried to do what I can,” Leonard told reporters. “It’s really nothing. Just the whole process of going through playing limited minutes, and just seeing how I feel each game. It just felt good going out.” Having Leonard find his form can’t sound like good news to the Knicks, who dropped to 2-11 on the road with Wednesday’s 92-87 loss at Chicago. “This is a disappointing loss,” New York coach Jeff Hornacek told reporters. “I thought we had a chance to really get a giant lead there in the second quarter. ... You have to take advantage when you have opportunities, and we didn‘t.”
TV: 8:30 p.m. ET, MSG (New York), FSN Southwest (San Antonio)
ABOUT THE KNICKS (17-17): New York has lost three consecutive games, and the setback in Chicago kicked off a three-game road trip. Kristaps Porzingis scored 23 points against the Bulls but stunningly was shut down by rookie Lauri Markkanen over the final 6:58, and the offense became stagnant as it recorded just three points in the last 5 1/2 minutes of the contest. “We got content to walking it up the court,” Hornacek said. “We weren’t able to get into easy early stuff. Instead, we were setting up, they were switching and we were spending too much time looking for K.P., and then the shot clock would start going down.”
ABOUT THE SPURS (24-11): Danny Green (groin) played 23 minutes against the Nets and figures to be on the court against the Knicks barring a setback. While Leonard and Tony Parker have been recovering from their quadriceps injuries, there has been ample opportunity for the entire roster to get minutes and be contributors. “I don’t want to write a book here. That’s not a question that you answer in 30 seconds,” coach Gregg Popovich told reporters after being asked about his handling of the situation. “But it’s basketball. It’s not the Middle East peace process. It’s not figuring out why our democracy is being eroded. It’s pick-and-roll. Big deal.”
1. The Spurs have won their last three home meetings with the Knicks.
2. San Antonio C Pau Gasol has posted three consecutive double-doubles and is averaging 16.3 points and 13.3 rebounds during that stretch.
3. New York SG Tim Hardaway Jr. (shin) is making progress from his late-November injury but is at least two more weeks away from returning.
PREDICTION: Spurs 107, Knicks 95