NBA GMs think Kawhi will go back to finals

Associated Press October 18,2019 - 12:03 PM

Los Angeles Clippers’ Kawhi Leonard stands during the national anthems before the team’s NBA preseason basketball game against the Dallas Mavericks on Thursday, Oct. 17, 2019, in Vancouver, British Columbia. | Darryl Dyck/The Canadian Press via AP

Kawhi Leonard was back in Canada, where last season he won a championship.

NBA general managers think he’s going to win another one this season.

They voted the Los Angeles Clippers as the favorites Thursday in the NBA.com GM survey, believing Leonard and Paul George are the missing pieces for a team that’s never even been beyond the second round.

Los Angeles was tabbed as the favorite by 46 percent of the GMs who responded. A big reason was Leonard, who not only ended LeBron James’ streak as top small forward that dated to the 2005 poll, but was also voted the league’s most impactful offseason addition, best defender and best perimeter defender.

Leonard proved what a difference he can make last season. He led the Toronto Raptors to their first championship in June, triggering celebrations all over Canada. He returned to play in front of the country’s fans in the Clippers’ preseason finale against the Dallas Mavericks in Vancouver, British Columbia.

“They should be excited,” Clippers coach Doc Rivers said before the game. “He did something very special for this country. So that’ll be a lot of fun for him, for sure.”

HEAT 107, MAGIC 98

Jimmy Butler had 23 points, six rebounds and six assists to help visiting Miami beat Orlando.

Duncan Robinson made four 3-pointers and added 17 points for the Heat (4-0). Kelly Olynyk added 14 points on 6-of-8 shooting in his preseason debut. Olynyk missed time due to a bruised right knee he suffered during his time with the Canadian national team in August.

Evan Fournier had 16 points and Mo Bamba and Nikola Vucevic scored 14 points each for the Magic (3-3).

BULLS 111, HAWKS 93

No. 7 overall pick Coby White scored 29 points in 23 minutes, making 10 of 14 from the field and 6 of 8 from the 3-point range for Chicago.

Zach LaVine added 23 points on 8-of-11 shooting for the Bulls (2-3). Otto Porter Jr. scored 15.

Jabari Parker had 15 points and Jordan Sibert scored 14 for the visiting Hawks (1-4).

BUCKS 118, TIMBERWOLVES 96

Giannis Antetokounmpo had 26 points and 14 rebounds and host Milwaukee finished its preseason undefeated.

Khris Middleton added 18 points and seven assists and Robin Lopez scored 14 points for the Bucks (5-0).

Karl-Anthony Towns led the Timberwolves (2-3) with 16 points. Robert Covington had 13 points and 11 rebounds.

NUGGETS 110, TRAIL BLAZERS 104

Paul Millsap and Will Barton had 13 points apiece in Denver, where 15 Nuggets and 13 Trail Blazers logged at least 12 minutes in the preseason finale for both teams. They open the regular season with a rematch Wednesday night.

Monte Morris added 12 points and Nikola Jokic scored 11 for the Nuggets (4-0).

Mario Hezonja was 3 of 4 from 3-point range and scored 18 points for the Trail Blazers (2-3). Zach Collins had 13 points and 11 rebounds.

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