Even Kawhi Leonard’s season debut couldn’t stop the Dallas Mavericks from recording a 95-89 upset over the San Antonio Spurs at American Airlines Center on Tuesday night.
Leonard, a two-time first team all-NBA selection, saw his first action of the 2017-18 campaign for the Spurs, but it wasn’t enough to stop them from losing to the worst team in the Western Conference.
Harrison Barnes led the Mavericks (8-20) with 17 points, with Yogi Ferrell and Wesley Matthews each scoring 16.
Leonard missed the first 27 games with a right quadriceps injury suffered in the first round of the Western Conference Finals against the Golden State Warriors last season. The 2014 NBA Finals MVP finished with 13 points in 16 minutes played but left the court at the end of the third quarter and did not return. There was no update available on Leonard’s status.
Without Leonard, the Spurs were outscored 28-20 in the decisive fourth quarter to have their four-game win streak snapped. San Antonio (19-9) lost for the second time in 10 games. Dallas ended a three-game losing streak.
Much of the pregame hype surrounded the return of Leonard. Even without him, the Spurs entered Tuesday with the third-best record in the Western Conference behind Houston and Golden State.
But Leonard couldn’t help his team overcome poor 3-point shooting. Normally a 37-percent shooting team from beyond the arc, the Spurs were 7 of 28 (25 percent) on 3-pointers against Dallas.
LaMarcus Aldridge led San Antonio with 23 points and Rudy Gay scored 21 off the bench. The Spurs’ starters were outscored by Dallas 60-45 as Paul Gasol went scoreless in 22 minutes and Tony Parker was held to six points.
Dirk Nowitzki was held to six points in the victory. Dwight Powell added 12 points and 12 rebounds off the bench and J.J. Barea had 16 points, six rebounds and six assists for the Mavericks, who were 9-for-24 shooting on 3-pointers.
Dallas’ victory was its first in three meetings with San Antonio this season. The two teams meet again Saturday.