Spurs visit reeling Nets on Monday

Tip-off scheduled for 6:30 p.m. on FSN Southwest

SAN ANTONIO – Kawhi Leonard keeps getting better and is putting the San Antonio Spurs on his back while the team fights through injuries to key players.

Leonard scored a career-high 41 points in an overtime win at Cleveland on Saturday and will try to maintain that same intensity when the Spurs visit the Brooklyn Nets on Monday.

Leonard made up for the loss of point guard Tony Parker (foot sprain) and center Pau Gasol (broken finger) in the showdown with the Cavaliers, and his continued improvement is the result of hard work, according to coach Gregg Popovich.

"The first thing you noticed with Kawhi was his work ethic," Popovich told reporters. "It sounds trite, but he really was somebody who came before practice, stayed after practice. ... He wasn't shooting threes and shooting midrange shots when he came, but step-backs, jump hooks, whatever it might be, his confidence level is really high."

The Nets are trying to find a similar work ethic as they begin their rebuilding process and showed plenty of competitiveness over the weekend. Brooklyn snapped an 11-game slide with a stunning 143-114 win at New Orleans on Friday and nearly made it back-to-back triumphs before running out of gas in the fourth quarter at Charlotte on Saturday.

TV: 6:30 p.m. CT, FSN Southwest

ABOUT THE SPURS (34-9): Leonard is the two-time defending Defensive Player of the Year but is really increasing his productivity on the offensive end in the last six games.

Leonard scored 30 or more points in each of those six contests and is shooting 60.2 percent from the field in that span while regularly guarding the best player on the opposing team.

"He competes so hard at the defensive end that he continues to infuse everybody with that toughness," Popovich told reporters. "So, when you see him play the defense that he plays, you know you've got somebody that is mentally tough. And he's the key for us."

ABOUT THE NETS (9-34): Brooklyn owns the worst record in the NBA and battled over the weekend to become the last team to reach double figures in wins but did not quite have the energy to make it happen.

“We definitely were out there fighting,” Nets center Brook Lopez told reporters after Saturday's 112-107 setback to the Hornets. "I think that’s what we’ve got to take away from this one and (Friday) night's game as well. We came in and were exhausted, had a bad first quarter, but we responded. We definitely made it a game, and that’s the way we’ve got to play every night."

Lopez combined for 47 points in the two games and scored 20 or more in each of his last seven contests.


1. Spurs PF David Lee moved into the starting lineup in place of Gasol and posted a double-double in each of the last two games while going 12-of-18 from the floor.

2. Brooklyn SF Joe Harris (left ankle) sat out Saturday and is day-to-day.

3. San Antonio took the last three in the series, including a 130-101 home triumph on Dec. 10.