Is Kawhi Leonard banged up? It depends who you ask.
In Sunday’s All-Star Game, Leonard scored just four points on four attempts, adding two rebounds, two assists and a steal in the West’s 192-182 win. He did not play in the second half, saying that he was healthy but the show was for Anthony Davis.
Leonard said he did not talk to Western Conference coach Steve Kerr about a minutes restriction or not playing in the second half.
Steve Kerr had a different account:
Leonard appeared disengaged for much of the 15 minutes he was on the floor, and seemed content to let his high-octane Western Conference teammates put on a fireworks show. Perhaps he was disappointed by the expected, but pronounced absence of defense. In any case it was a quiet night in Leonard’s second All-Star Game, but he executed his signature steal-and-slam about 30 seconds into the contest.
After Russell Westbrook slammed home a lob from ex-teammate Kevin Durant, the Western Conference bench reacted like high-schoolers when a cute couple gets back together. Steph Curry screamed his head off into Kawhi’s ear, and Leonard sat there stone-faced looking utterly bored.
Leonard wasn’t quiet for his whole time on the bench, though. Pelicans forward Anthony Davis broke Wilt Chamberlain’s All-Star Game scoring record of 42 points, and Davis said after the game that Kawhi kept letting him know how close he was.
Davis finished the game with 52 points, shattering Wilt’s 55-year-old record in front of the New Orleans crowd. Russell Westbrook finished the game with 41 points, and Kevin Durant became just the fourth player to notch a triple-double in an All-Star Game, joining Michael Jordan, LeBron James and Dwyane Wade.
In a game with historic offensive performances and countless explosive dunks, Leonard faded into the background and chose not to exert himself too much. Spurs coach Gregg Popovich reportedly invited Leonard to play as much as he wanted to, but he probably isn’t upset that his superstar player took it easy in the exhibition.
Banged up or not, Leonard already had his sights set on the stretch run of the season after the game. “Now that we’re over this All-Star Break hump, it’s time to get back as a collective unit and try to push through these next 20-some games.”