Kawhi Leonard suited up Tuesday night for the first time this season, and the All-Star forward was “wonderful” according to Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich.
Leonard finished with 13 points on 6 of 12 shooting, adding six rebounds, an assist, a steal and a block.
The Dallas Mavericks spoiled Kawhi’s return, however, sending San Antonio away with a 95-89 loss.
“I thought he was wonderful,” Popovich said. “He’s 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.”
Leonard didn’t take his first shot until the 9:15 mark in the first quarter, and Popovich subbed him out of action with 7:14 left in the quarter for veteran Manu Ginobili.
“I’m just happy to be able to be out there, just to play the game and enjoy the things I missed — missing shots, losing games, making mistakes — just everything,” Leonard said. “I understand the situation that I’m in, and we’re thinking about down the road. I didn’t play 30-plus minutes tonight. So, I don’t know where my conditioning is. I felt good tonight playing my 16 minutes. So, we’ll see what happens down the road. Just being out there to enjoy the moment and the Dallas atmosphere with my team and compete was just great for me.”