Fans and teammates alike could not have been more excited about the sight of Kawhi Leonard laced up and ready to go for the San Antonio Spurs on Wednesday night. The court rust was evident in Leonard’s first game back, but it wore off quickly in the Spurs’ 120-110 victory over the Detroit Pistons.
The first attempt of the game was marked by an airball on a 15-foot jumper coming from the hands of Leonard. He would quickly find his rhythm by finishing an alley-oop dunk with authority off an assist from Corey Joseph. In 29 minutes, Leonard finished with 15 points, six rebounds and four assists. One of those assists came in the fashion of a pinpoint pass that allowed Tim Duncan a bucket down low.
Duncan, who totaled 13 points, was one of eight San Antonio players who broke the double-digit mark against the weak defense of the Pistons. Marco Belinelli led all Spurs’ scorers with 20 points off the bench.
It was obvious that the Spurs’ offense was not accustomed to having Leonard in the mix by committing 11 turnovers in the first half. Gregg Popovich was able to settle his club down during halftime, and the Spurs came out executing their offense to near perfection. The 33-point outburst in the third quarter was too much for the Pistons to overcome.
The return of Leonard was definitely a morale boost for the team and coaching staff. With Leonard back in the starting lineup and a five-day rest, the Spurs could have performed a little better on the defensive end. Nonetheless, the Spurs were a totally different team emotionally thanks to the presence of their star small forward.