MILWAUKEE – Kawhi Leonard scored 10 of his 24 points in the decisive third quarter and the San Antonio Spurs beat the Milwaukee Bucks 123-98 on Monday night for their fifth straight victory.
The Spurs improved to 30-6 and joined defending champion Golden State as the only teams to reach 30 wins already this season.
Rookie swingman Jonathon Simmons scored a career-high 18 for the Spurs, who set a season high for points two days after posting 121 against Houston. LaMarcus Aldridge had 16 points and 11 rebounds.
Tim Duncan finished with 14 points and 10 boards for the Spurs, one game after going scoreless for the first time in his 19-year career.
San Antonio played without starting point guard Tony Parker due to right hip soreness, but still won its 27th game in the last 31.
Patty Mills, filling in for Parker, and Leonard engineered a 9-2 run that gave the Spurs an 18-point lead late in the third quarter. Mills hit a 3-pointer, Leonard converted a three-point play and Mills sank his third 3 of the quarter as San Antonio pulled away.
Simmons and Aldridge sparked the Spurs' momentum-shifting second quarter. Simmons scored 12 points on 4-of-5 shooting from the floor and Aldridge added six points as San Antonio outscored Milwaukee 31-19 to lead 60-49 at halftime.
Khris Middleton scored 19 points to lead the Bucks, who put all five starters in double figures. But the combined effort wasn't nearly enough as Milwaukee lost its eighth straight to the Spurs.
Jerryd Bayless sustained an apparent injury to his left ankle after getting tangled up with Mills on a drive to the Bucks' basket in the second quarter. Bayless fell to the floor and remained there for a few moments. He got up and walked off the court. Spurs coach Gregg Popovich picked Johnnie O'Bryant to shoot the two free throws.
Spurs: Duncan bounced back nicely after failing to score in 14 minutes of Saturday's victory over the Rockets. ... The bench outscored the Bucks' reserves 56-23. ... Simmons' previous career high was 14 points on Dec. 7 at Philadelphia. ... Mills made his first start of the season filling in for Parker at point guard. Parker did not travel with the team. ... Danny Green hit a 3-pointer in the first half and needs two more to pass Bruce Bowen (661) for second place on the Spurs' career list.
Bucks: The NBA fined guard O.J. Mayo $25,000 for aggressively pursuing a game official and failing to leave the court in a timely manner following his ejection Saturday. Mayo had to be restrained after being assessed a second technical foul early in the first quarter of Milwaukee's 95-85 win at Minnesota. "You play with emotion, passion, but we have to make sure we keep our composure and handle things the way they should be handled," interim coach Joe Prunty said. "It's definitely something that you teach from and speak to all the guys about."
Spurs: Host Utah on Tuesday night.
Bucks: At Chicago on Tuesday night.