Spurs prepare for Kawhi, Clippers

Kawhi Leonard will return to San Antonio for just the second time in the past two years when the Spurs host the new-look Los Angeles Clippers on Friday.

The Spurs have bigger concerns than worrying just about Leonard, once the Alamo City's favorite son before a trade to Toronto last year and his free-agent signing with the Clippers before the season.

San Antonio has lost 10 of its past 11 games including Wednesday's 113-101 setback at home to Minnesota.

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The Spurs (6-13) have gone 2-11 since beginning the season 4-2. San Antonio has dropped two straight since snapping an eight-game losing streak, its longest since the 1996-97 season, on the road last Saturday against the Knicks.

Wednesday's loss, San Antonio's fifth straight at home, was doomed by a 5-of-29 shooting performance from 3-point territory and poor defense in the final quarter. LaMarcus Aldridge and DeMar DeRozan led the Spurs' scoring with 22 and 20 points, respectively.

"Both teams are going to make mistakes defensively, but we have to be perfect defensively if we are going to shoot like that," Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said. "I felt (the players') effort was really good, and they got physical and we got after it."

One of the highlights for San Antonio in the loss to Minnesota was the play of second-year guard Lonnie Walker IV, who scored a season-high 11 points.

"Lonnie was fantastic," Popovich said. "He has kept himself ready and we gave him a shot to play tonight and, obviously, he was up to the challenge. He did a really good job."

The Clippers head to the Alamo City on the heels of a 121-119 win in Memphis on Wednesday that was accomplished without Leonard, who continues to sit out the second half of back-to-back games to protect his left knee.

It was the seventh straight win for the Clippers (14-5).

Los Angeles trailed by 10 points midway through the fourth quarter but rallied with crucial 3-pointers by Paul George and Patrick Beverley, before Montrezl Harrell tipped in the game-winner with 2.3 seconds remaining.

The Clippers battled back behind their reserves as Harrell had 24 points and 10 rebounds, and Lou Williams scored 24 points.

"It's just fantastic," Clippers coach Doc Rivers said about having Harrell and Williams off his bench. "It's like you have the ultimate relief pitchers coming in the game."

George added 22 points, highlighted by his second 3-pointer of the final 4:10 that gave Los Angeles its first lead of the fourth quarter.

"We don't panic, we run our stuff," Rivers said. "We're a gritty basketball team. I just thought you let a team (the Grizzlies) that hasn't been winning hang around, they start to smell it. We talked about it before the game. Obviously, no one heard it."

The Clippers complete a three-game road trip in San Antonio on Friday night.

The Spurs own a 128-43 all-time edge on Los Angeles, but the Clippers defeated San Antonio 103-97 in L.A. when the two teams played for the first time this season.

--Field Level Media

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