Originally posted on Project Spurs  |  Last updated 7/17/12

“We’re learning him as much as he’s learning himself,” San Antonio Spurs General Manager R.C. Buford said during the third quarter of the Spurs’ 92-81 Summer League victory over the Los Angeles Lakers on Tuesday evening in Las Vegas.

Leonard once again led the Spurs to victory with 27 points, though he had the opposite type of  game compared to Sunday when the Spurs defeated the Atlanta Hawks. Then, Leonard struggled in the first half, but eventually got himself going in the second to finish with 23 points. Leonard had an impressive first half with 18 points Tuesday, but the second half was much more difficult for him as he learned points won’t always come so easy. He’ll have moments where he struggles.

Aside from Leonard, Cory Joseph was impressive once again with 18 points, five assists and three steals. In limited play, James Anderson put on a good showcase for other teams with 13 points, while the unknown Tyler Wilkerson might have some GM’s taking notice as he had an efficient 12 points and eight rebounds for San Antonio.

The Lakers knew Leonard was the Spurs’ best player, so they tried to double-team him throughout the game. Leonard didn't seem affected, as he continued to drive to the basket and draw contact. After one, the Spurs led 19-18, and Leonard had eight points and had already visited the free throw line three times in the quarter. 

Leonard continued to look like the superior player on the court in the second quarter, grabbing defensive rebounds and taking the ball coast-to-coast to finish with a lay-up smoothly. Leonard had 10 points in the second, while Anderson and Joseph added eight points each. By halftime the Spurs held a 43-35 lead.

“Pop told him, go get 25 shots, but good shots,” Buford told NBATV in the third quarter.

Leonard started off quickly in the third quarter with five points, helping the Spurs build a 16-point lead, but then he began to turn the ball over and missed some long distance shots. Once he was sent to the bench, Joseph and Anderson helped the Spurs keep their lead, going into the final quarter leading 71-62.

Leonard continued to show he’s still using the Summer League as way to grow, as he continued to struggle in the fourth quarter. He  turned the ball over two more times in the fourth, while also getting blocked on a forced jump shot. Wilkerson was a huge boost, continuing to hustle to keep the Spurs ahead of the Lakers. Rookie Marcus Denmon scored seven points in the game, but he missed a lot of open three-pointers in the fourth quarter.

With the Lakers cutting the lead down to six points with less than two minutes remaining, it was a Luke Zeller three-pointer (7 points total) that put the Spurs back up by nine points. From there, Leonard was able to find his shot as he scored four points in the fourth, while Joseph capped the game at the free-throw line. 

Leonard finished with 27 points on 9-of-18 shooting (2/5 from 3-point range), nailing 7-of-9 free throws, grabbed eight rebounds, added three assists, and one steal.

Leonard and the Spurs are now 2-0 in Summer League play as they get set to face the Los Angeles Clippers on Wednesday evening.

Photo: Spurs.com 

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