NEW YORK (AP) — LaMarcus Aldridge scored 34 points, Patty Mills made seven 3-pointers and the San Antonio Spurs responded to the latest absence of Kawhi Leonard by beating the Brooklyn Nets 100-95 on Wednesday night.
Mills finished with 25 points and combined with Aldridge on the most important play of the game, a three-point play for Aldridge with 53 seconds remaining on a pass from the reserve guard after the Nets had cut a 17-point deficit to three.
The Spurs announced earlier Wednesday that Leonard would be out indefinitely so he can continue rehabilitating from the right thigh injury that forced him to miss the start of the season.
“We didn’t feel he was ready. His confidence level wasn’t there, so we decided to give it some more time,” coach Gregg Popovich said.
They were fine without him Wednesday, thanks also to Pau Gasol’s 13 points, 12 rebounds and seven assists.
Allen Crabbe scored 20 points and Joe Harris had 18 for the Nets, who lost their third straight.
Mills went 5 for 5 off the bench in the first half, all 3-pointers, and finished with the most 3-pointers by a Spurs player this season.
Spurs: San Antonio was also without Manu Ginobili because of a bruised right thigh. … Ginobili and Davis Bertans had shared the Spurs’ high of six 3-pointers in a game this season.
Nets: Brooklyn has lost five straight at home. … The Nets have dropped the last six meetings.
Leonard has played in just nine games after missing the beginning of the season because of right quadriceps tendinopathy. He also was sidelined briefly because of a shoulder injury. Popovich said Leonard hadn’t sustained another injury, but also didn’t seem confident in his ability to play at the level that had him finishing third in the voting for NBA MVP last season.
“He didn’t reinjure it or anything but he was having pain, but not right after games, but maybe the next day at noon or that kind of thing and so the pain wasn’t dissipating,” Popovich said. “It wasn’t going in the right direction, it was going the other way and you’ve got to be confident in your body to go out there and play at the level that he’s expected to play.”
POPOVICH ON …
PLAYER ALTERCATIONS: “NBA fights are the silliest, namby-pambiest things I’ve ever seen in my life. Except there was that one in the stands a few years ago. That one got ugly.”
RESPONDING TO REFEREES: “It evens out, it’s just that we’re all so prejudice it’s ridiculous. We think we’re the ones getting screwed all the time. So referees cannot win. I don’t care what happens, they will never win. Everybody’s always going to (complain) about them, so it’s best to just play the game, don’t cry about it and move on.”
Spurs: Visit Toronto on Friday night.
Nets: Host Miami on Friday night.
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