Kawhi Leonard: Kawhi Leonard scores 29 points to beat MEM

Paola Ditto
Aprile 28, 2017

He somehow improved on his numbers during the Spurs' first-round playoff series against the Grizzlies, averaging more points, rebounds, assists and steals among other stats.

But more than a clash of stars, the series could be a battle of the Rockets' high-powered offense and the Spurs' suffocating defense. "That gets you ready for anybody you are going to play", Popovich said. "That's the good news".

In the postseason, though, when you have to rely on your best seven or eight players, the Spurs are doomed every time Leonard sits.

Parker scored 11 of his 27 points in the first quarter Thursday, opening the floor for Leonard, who scored 23 of his 29 in the final three quarters. Longtime Spurs fans know that Gregg Popovich basically invented the notion of de-emphasizing chasing after offensive boards because he was so hyper-vigilant about getting back in transition, but they wouldn't have won Thursday night without those second and third chances. They played unbelievable. They're a great team, and they made it hard on us and so we didn't want to come back for Game 7. That would've meant only one day to rest and prepare for the No. 3-seeded Rockets with this semifinal starting Monday night in San Antonio. "We said we were down 7, but in Game 4 it was same thing".

"We stayed calm. We knew they weren't going to give up", DeRozan said. He also hit his first 42 free throws of this series, the most to start a postseason series in National Basketball Association history.

The "07 Finals MVP scored a playoff-and season-high 27 points in Game 6, shooting a career playoff-best 78 percent while flashing some of the off-the-dribble quickness from his prime". The Bucks closed the quarter on a 15-3 run to make it a 74-61 game heading to the fourth. The veteran guard, who turns 35 on May 17, was seen icing both feet and his left knee after the game but walked just fine talking to reporters.

"I had to be aggressive", Parker said.

The Grizzlies got 26 points from Mike Conley - his fifth straight game with 20 or more - and 18 from Marc Gasol.

Leonard said the break also will be good for the older Spurs, plus himself after a very physical series.

"He is playing at an MVP level and I hope he can keep it going because we are going to need him in the next round", said Parker of teammate Leonard.

After a sluggish first quarter in which the Grizzlies shot 39.1 percent, they rebounded in the second.

With 5:50 left in the fourth quarter, the Grizzlies led the Spurs 88-81 before Leonard made a decision to take over the game. The Spurs won 103-96 and will advanced to the second round.

The next four minutes were witness to a 15-4 run by the Spurs.

"Kawhi Leonard, in my opinion, is the best player in the league right now", Popovich told reporters after his team's Game 6 win over the Memphis Grizzlies, per Michael Lee of The Vertical.

TONY Parker came up with a vintage performance as the San Antonio Spurs rallied late and held on to eliminate the Memphis Grizzlies after a 103-96 win in Game 6 of their NBA Playoffs first-round series at the FedEx Forum on Thursday (Friday, Manila time). Those numbers don't do justice to the impact Leonard had on San Antonio, however, and it's understandable why Popovich went to bat for him after his exceptional series against the Grizzlies.

San Antonio Spurs forward Kawhi Leonard (2) and Memphis Grizzlies center Marc Gasol (33) react during the first half of Game 6 in an NBA basketball first-round playoff series Thursday, April 27, 2017, in Memphis, Tenn.

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