SAN ANTONIO — The San Antonio Spurs went to Kawhi Leonard on a critical possession late in the game, not to their Big Three of Tim Duncan, Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili.
Leonard showed why his veteran teammates are now regularly turning to him offensively, draining a 3-pointer with 15.1 seconds remaining that pushed San Antonio to its eighth straight home victory to open the season.
Leonard scored 26 points and the Spurs never trailed, but had to hold on for an 88-83 victory over the Dallas Mavericks on Wednesday night.
The fifth-year forward finished 4 for 7 on 3-pointers while scoring in double figures for the 41st straight game dating to last season. Leonard's previous career high for consecutive games in double figures was 13.
"(Kawhi's) growing," San Antonio forward LaMarcus Aldridge said. "I never really watched the Spurs play too much last year. I don't know if he played to this level last year, but he's definitely playing at a big-time level. He's taking big-time shots and making them for us."
Aldridge had 18 points and seven rebounds in his return from a two-game absence due to a mild left ankle sprain.
Leonard had nine points in the final quarter, enabling the Spurs to win their 10th straight home game over the Mavericks.
Devin Harris' 3-pointer cut San Antonio's lead to 84-83 with 33 seconds remaining, but Leonard followed with his own 3 just 18 seconds later.
"Our type of offense just puts everyone in a good situation," Leonard said. "Tonight, I got a chance to make some shots for the team to win the game. That's what happened."
The normally stoic Leonard celebrated the 3 with a small fist pump.
"Yeah, he got a little bit excited," Parker said. "It's very rare for him. Even less than Timmy."
Wesley Matthews then missed a 3-pointer and Ginobili went 1 for 4 on free throws to close out the Spurs' third straight win.
Matthews had 15 points and Dirk Nowitzki added 13 for Dallas, which has lost three straight and fell to 9-7.
The Spurs showed a diverse offense early against a Mavericks squad playing the second night of a back-to-back.
Aldridge opened the game by sinking an 18-foot jumper over Nowitzki, followed by a pair of 3-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 4 1/2 minutes.
"I thought they started the game off pretty well and knocked us on our heels a little bit," Nowitzki said.
Dallas opened the game shooting 4 for 17, but rallied behind the physical defense of its second unit.
The Mavericks went on a 21-9 run at the close of the third quarter to tie the game at 58 and again at 60, but could never capture the lead against a balanced Spurs attack.
"It's frustrating," Nowitzki said. "It was right there. We had a couple of shots to take the lead or tie it at the end. It was a tough one."
Mavericks: F Chandler Parsons missed the game due to rest after playing 25 minutes Tuesday in a 110-96 loss in Memphis. Parsons had six points and five rebounds in the loss. ... Zaza Pachulia had four points and no rebounds, ending his streak of four straight double-doubles. ... Nowitzki missed his only 3-point attempt, keeping him at 1,601 career 3-pointers. He is seven 3-pointers shy of tying Jason Richardson for 17th all-time.
Spurs: David West made his first 3-pointer of the season, kicking his legs out and throwing up a shot with 0.4 seconds remaining in the third quarter. It was the 35-year-old's second 3-point attempt of the season. ... San Antonio's bench was outscored 38-20 by Dallas. ... F Matt Bonner, who did not dress, wished the fans in attendance a "Happy Thanksgiving" and stressed, "remember to make sandwiches with the leftovers."
Dallas guard J.J. Barea did not return after spraining his right ankle with 8 minutes left in the game. He was assisted off the court after twisting the ankle while backpedaling defensively. Barea finished with seven points and three assists in 12 minutes. Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle said he did not know the severity of Barea's injury.
Aldridge was 8 for 17 from the field.
"I gained energy; fresh legs," Aldridge said. "Watching the games, I learned my spots a little bit better. I gained rather than lose anything."
Mavericks: Host Denver on Saturday.
Spurs: At Denver on Friday.