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San Antonio Spurs' Kawhi Leonard flashes All-Star form in long-awaited season debut

From NBA Twitter and media reports

Kawhi Leonard made his season debut Tuesday night and looked to be in midseason form, although the San Antonio Spurs struggled in the fourth quarter without him and lost to the Dallas Mavericks 95-89 at American Airlines Center.

Leonard, who missed the first 27 games of the season while recovering from a quadriceps condition that causes pain and weakness in the knee, made his first three shots and scored six of San Antonio’s first eight points.

Spurs coach Gregg Popovich pulled Leonard in the third quarter after he reached his minutes limit. He finished with 13 points in 16 minutes, and also contributed six rebounds, one assist, one steal and a block.

“I understand the situation that I’m in and we’re thinking about down the road,” said Leonard, who played roughly the first five minutes in each of the first three quarters.

It was his first action since Game 1 of the Western Conference finals last season.

“I thought he was wonderful,” Popovich told Tom Orsborn of the San Antonio Express-News. “He’s trying to get some rust off and that sort of thing. Obviously, he’s confident, a heck of a player.”

Regarding the minutes restriction, Popovich declined to say what the plan would be moving forward. The Spurs return to action on Friday in Houston.

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.