PHILADELPHIA (AP) — ��� Kawhi Leonard shook off a calf injury and delivered another stellar performance.
“He’s got the whole package,” teammate Manu Ginobili said. “He’s the main reason we’re getting all these wins when we’re not playing well.”
Leonard was back in the lineup after missing one game because of a quad contusion. He shot 9 of 18 and hit all 11 free throws for his 16th 30-point game.
“I think we were playing a little hesitant at times on the floor, just not being aggressive and being direct enough in what we wanted to do,” he said.
Sixers coach Brett Brown was impressed.
“I think Kawhi is one of those unique players we’re seeing grow before our eyes,” Brown said. “He might be the best two-way player in the NBA.”
The Sixers were again without star center Joel Embiid. The rookie missed his seventh straight game because of a left knee contusion. Philadelphia is 13-18 with Embiid, 5-16 without him.
The Spurs bounced back following a loss at Memphis and improved the NBA’s second-best record to 40-12.
After trailing the entire game, the Sixers pulled within 87-85 on a pair of free throws by Okafor with 7:35 left. But San Antonio went on a 16-5 run to put it away.
Danny Green’s 3-pointer made it 103-92 with 2:14 to go and sent fans to the exits.
“I’m totally impressed with the Sixers,” Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said. “We didn’t play a good 48 minutes. We played good the last three, four, five. We didn’t move that well. We didn’t get that many assists. We held the ball. We turned it over. It was very disappointing.”
LaMarcus Aldridge had 15 points and 10 rebounds, and Dewayne Dedmon added 10 points and 11 boards.
Brown said of the Spurs: “It’s the Holy Grail of sport. … To attain annual success for 18, 19 years, that’s the Holy Grail. That’s culture. That’s what you dream about building here.”
Okafor, the No. 3 overall pick in the 2015 draft, has been mentioned in several trade rumors and could be heading somewhere before the trade deadline later this month. “I’m here now,” Okafor said.
Spurs: Leonard has now scored in double figures in 81 straight games – the longest such streak by a Spurs player since Tim Duncan’s 91 straight in 2002-03. … Popovich said Brown is the “most incredible positive force I’ve ever been around.” Brown was a longtime assistant under Popovich before coming to Philadelphia in 2013. … They shot 62.9 percent (22 of 35) in the first half.
76ers: Embiid is expected to miss at least one more game. “He’s coming along fine. We’re just moving slowly, wisely,” Brown said. … No. 1 overall pick Ben Simmons is getting closer to making his NBA debut, but Brown doesn’t have a set date. He said Simmons needs five full practices before he plays his first game. … F Richaun Holmes didn’t play because of an upper respiratory infection. … The developmental league’s Delaware 87ers signed three-time NBA slam dunk champion Nate Robinson.
The Spurs are two games into their 15th annual rodeo road trip, when the San Antonio Stock Show & Rodeo takes over the AT&T Center. The Spurs will play eight games in seven cities, traveling 7,378 miles. They are 83-36 on the rodeo trip.
IN DA HOUSE
Four-time NBA All-Star Rasheed Wallace, a Philly native, was at the game. Director M. Night Shyamalan sat courtside with actor Bryan Cranston.
Spurs: Visit the Detroit Pistons on Friday night.
76ers: Play at Orlando on Thursday night.