PHILADELPHIA -- The San Antonio Spurs, in the early stages of their annual rodeo road trip, slogged through a subpar game Wednesday night against the Philadelphia 76ers, in the estimation of coach Gregg Popovich.
Kawhi Leonard saved the day. The All-Star forward scored 32 points, eight in a pivotal stretch late in the game, as the Spurs held off the Sixers 111-103.
"I'm totally impressed with the Sixers," Popovich said. "We didn't play a good 48 minutes. We played good the last three, four, five. We didn't move that well. We didn't get that many assists. We held the ball. We turned it over. It was very disappointing."
The Spurs, who never trailed, shot 52.7 percent from the floor, made half their 22 3-point attempts and owned a 47-35 rebounding advantage. They turned the ball over 15 times, however, leading to 20 Philadelphia points, while the Sixers turned it over just eight times.
"Sometimes either we're not playing hard and we're playing smart, or vice versa," Leonard said. "I felt like we played hard tonight, throughout the whole 48 minutes, but our execution wasn't there."
Leonard, back after missing Monday's loss in Memphis with a bruised quadriceps, scored the next eight Spurs points, six of those at the foul line, leaving San Antonio with a 98-91 lead with 3:21 to play.
Nerlens Noel made a free throw, but Parker coaxed in a short jumper and Danny Green sank a 3-pointer from the left corner to give the Spurs a 103-92 advantage with 2:14 left.
"The fourth quarter we really didn't have too much going on, on the offensive end," Leonard said, "so they tried to get me and (LaMarcus Aldridge) involved in the pick-and-roll, and I got fouled a couple times, made some free throws."
Parker added 18 points for the Spurs, who improved to 1-1 on their eight-game trip with their fourth victory in five games. They also beat Philadelphia for the 12th straight time.
Aldridge collected 15 points and 10 rebounds for San Antonio, and Dewayne Dedmon had 10 points and 11 boards.
Leonard, however, was the difference.
"He's got the whole package," veteran guard Manu Ginobili said. "He's the main reason we're getting all these wins when we're not playing well."
The Sixers were without rookie center Joel Embiid, their leading scorer and rebounder, for the seventh straight game, and the 10th time in the last 11. He has a bone bruise of the left knee, and will also be held out of Thursday's game in Orlando.
Philadelphia coach Brett Brown, a former San Antonio assistant, expressed admiration for the Spurs and their continuing success.
"It's the Holy Grail of sport," he said. "To attain annual success for 18, 19 years, that's the Holy Grail. That's culture. That's what you dream about building here."
The Spurs shot 70.7 percent in the first quarter but led only 29-23 because the Sixers packed three 3-pointers into the final 2:21 of the quarter, two by Covington.
San Antonio was up only 40-37 midway through the second quarter, but Leonard provided 12 points in a 15-5 Spurs rush, giving them a 55-42 cushion.
Philadelphia cut the gap to 58-51 at halftime, again on some 3-point sniping at the end of the period. They made three more triples, this time in the last 2:36. Stauskas nailed two of those, the last with 4.5 seconds remaining.
Leonard finished the half with 14 points, while Okafor had 14 to pace Philadelphia.
The Spurs surged once more in the third quarter, pushing the lead to 78-67 on Aldridge's two free throws with 3:17 left. An 8-0 Philadelphia run cut the gap to three, but Davis Bertans made a free throw, then a 3-pointer with one second remaining to put San Antonio ahead 82-75 after three quarters.
The latter came after the 39-year-old Ginobili, who stands 6-6, won a jumpball against the 6-11 Noel.
NOTES: Philadelphia C Joel Embiid (bone bruise, left knee) worked out Tuesday and early Wednesday. He is scheduled to work out again Thursday, while the team travels to Orlando to face the Magic. "I believe we're going to see him, not too far away," coach Brett Brown said. ... Embiid wore goggles during his workout Wednesday, for reasons that were unclear. "I assume he's trying something Kareem-ish," Brown joked. Embiid was not available to the media. ... Brown said rookie F Ben Simmons, who has yet to play this year following foot surgery, is "moving along fine" in his workouts, but did not offer a timetable for his return. ... The Spurs held their shootaround at the historic Palestra on the University of Pennsylvania's campus. "I wasn't going to miss a chance to go to the Palestra," coach Gregg Popovich said. "Growing up, those are the kind of gyms you loved." ... 76ers F Richaun Holmes (upper respiratory infection) did not play.