DALLAS - San Antonio Spurs small forward Kawhi Leonard made his season debut Tuesday night and scored 13 points in 16 minutes. He started off by making his first three shots.
"I thought he was wonderful," head coach Gregg Popovich said. "He was 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, so that's a tough situation for him."
Leonard went six for 12 overall, with six rebounds, one assist, one steal and a blocked shot. He left the game with 1:16 left in the third quarter and went to locker room to get a jump-start on treatment.
"No, it wasn't tough," Leonard said when asked about playing 16 minutes. "I understand the situation that I'm in and what we are thinking about down the road."
Despite losing to the Dallas Mavericks, the Spurs were thrilled to see the two-time NBA Defensive Player of the Year back in the lineup.
"It's great," LaMarcus Aldridge said, who led the Spurs with 23 points. "He brings so many things to the game that we don't have right now. He's a great defender, he can score a number of ways and he can make plays. We definitely miss that."
Spurs fans at American Airlines Center gave Leonard a standing ovation when he was introduced before tipoff. They were excited to see Kawhi after his 212-day layoff.
Kawhi and the Spurs will next play the Houston Rockets, Friday at 8:30 p.m. at Toyota Center.
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