Mavs spoil Leonard’ season debut after missing 25 ties

Dallas, TX, USA; Dallas Mavericks guard Antonius Cleveland (44) guards San Antonio Spurs forward Kawhi Leonard (2) during the second quarter at the American Airlines Center [Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports]

Kawhi Leonard made his long awaited return from injury but could not stop San Antonio from an upset defeat in Dallas on Tuesday night as LeBron James led the Cleveland Cavaliers to a ninth straight win. Leonard, who missed the first 27 games of the season due to a thigh muscle injury, made an impressive cameo in his 15 minutes on court, scoring 13 points and pulling down six rebounds.

But when Leonard exited as expected early in the third quarter soon after helping the Spurs into a 55-50 lead, the Mavericks came back into the contest to run out 95-89 winners at the American Airlines Center. The defeat was a jolt for San Antonio, who fell to 19-9 for the season.

 The Mavs improved to 8-20, led by 17 points from Harrison Barnes. In Cleveland meanwhile, the Cavaliers rained down a bombardment of three-pointers on the Atlanta Hawks to secure a 123-114 win. Cleveland bagged a season-high 20 three-pointers during the game, with James scoring 25 points and tying a career-high 17 assists. Kyle Korver had 19 points -including six three-pointers -while Kevin Love had 17 points and 12 rebounds. Jose Calderon had 14 points.

 “For me to assist my teammates making shots has always been an enjoyment of mine ... my team-mates were excellent tonight.” Cleveland Cavaliers star, LeBron James Selected results: 113-109 LA Lakers Knicks Cavaliers 123-114 Hawks Sacramento Kings 99-92 Suns Nuggets 103-84 Pistons 103-98 Wizards Nets Philadelphia 76ers 118-112 Timberwolves Dallas Mavericks guard Antonius Cleveland (left) guards San Antonio Spurs forward Kawhi Leonard.


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