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Gregg Popovich: ‘I thought Kawhi was wonderful’ in Debut

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The discussion looked tense at first, but laughter from San Antonio Spurs coach Gregg Popovich belied the optics inside American Airlines Arena, especially when he walked away from a giggling Kawhi Leonard near the bench with 6:31 left in a 95-89 loss to the Mavericks.

“We were just talking about what was going on and if I was going to play more,” Leonard said. “We just had a little laugh.”

That accompanied a collective sigh of relief in San Antonio. Leonard played 16 minutes in his season debut Tuesday night after sitting out all of the preseason and each of the team’s 27 previous games while recovering from right quadriceps tendinopathy. Popovich pulled Leonard in the third quarter, after he had scored 13 points on 6 of 12 shooting to go with six rebounds, an assist, a steal and a block. Leonard finished as one of just five Spurs to end their nights with a positive plus-minus (8).

“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.”

Source: Michael C. Wright of ESPN

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