Spurs hold off Mavericks for third victory in a row

– Kawhi Leonard scored 26 points and the San Antonio Spurs never trailed, holding on for an 88-83 victory over the Dallas Mavericks on Wednesday night.

LaMarcus Aldridge had 18 points and seven rebounds in his return from a two-game absence because of a mild left ankle sprain.

Tony Parker added 16 points and eight assists for the Spurs, who improved to 12-3 with their third consecutive victory.

Wes Matthews had 15 points and Dirk Nowitzki added 13 for Dallas, which has lost three in a row and fell to 9-7.

Devin Harris' three-pointer cut San Antonio's lead to 84-83 with 33 seconds remaining, but Leonard followed with his own three only 18 seconds later. Matthews then missed a three-pointer and Manu Ginobili went 1-for-4 on free throws to close out the Spurs' eighth consecutive home victory to open the season.

The Mavericks went on a 21-9 run at the close of the third quarter to tie the score at 58 and again at 60, but could never capture the lead against a balanced Spurs attack.

San Antonio showed its diverse offense early. Aldridge opened the game by sinking an 18-foot jumper over Nowitzki, followed by a pair of three-pointers from Leonard and then consecutive driving layups by Parker past Raymond Felton. San Antonio had five assists on the six baskets, with every starter getting at least an assist or basket in the opening 4½ minutes.

HIGHLIGHTS

•UGLY COMPARISONS: Isaiah Thomas scored 30 points, Jae Crowder hit a go-ahead three-pointer and the host Celtics rallied to beat Philadelphia 84-80, handing the 76ers their 16th consecutive loss of the season and 26th in a row overall. Philadelphia tied the major U.S. professional sports futility mark set by the NFL's Tampa Bay Buccaneers from 1976-77 and matched by the 76ers in 2013-14.

•CAVS CAVE: Kyle Lowry scored 27 points and DeMar DeRozan added 20 as the host Raptors beat the Cavaliers 103-99 for their third consecutive victory. LeBron James had 24 points, eight assists and six rebounds for the Cavaliers, who lost their third straight road game.

•MISSIN' COUSINS: Rudy Gay scored 36 points and the visiting Sacramento Kings beat the Milwaukee Bucks 121-113. Kings scoring and rebounding leader DeMarcus Cousins sat out because of a strained lower back.

•SHOT MAKERS VS. SHOT TAKERS: Victor Oladipo scored a season-high 24 points, Nik Vucevic added 22 points and 12 rebounds and the host Magic beat the Knicks 100-91. New York shot only 37.3 percent from the field.

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