TORONTO - The Toronto Raptors have been able to win with and without their new star Kawhi Leonard in taking the first three games of the season.
After being rested Saturday in a 117-113 victory over the Washington Wizards, Leonard is expected to return to the lineup Monday in Toronto when the Raptors play Kemba Walker and the Charlotte Hornets.
Leonard, who missed most of last season with the San Antonio Spurs with a quadriceps injury, was given a break for the game in Washington with the Raptors, who were playing for the third time in four nights.
Leonard logged 210 minutes last season and opened the season playing 73 over two games, recording double-doubles each time.
"(Leonard) hasn't played in a long time and a really heavy schedule to start here so we're just trying to be smart about it," Raptors coach Nick Nurse said. "Let's not overload him."
Walker scored 39 points Saturday in a 113-112 win over the Miami Heat to push him past 10,000 points for his career, the first player in franchise history to reach that plateau. The guard needed 26 points Saturday to reach 10,000.
Walker also made seven 3-pointers, giving him an NBA-record 19 through the opening three games of the season. Danilo Gallinari held the previous record of 18 set in 2009-10. As a team, the Hornets have 49 3-pointers through their first three games, an NBA record. The Golden State Warriors had 46 in their first three games last season.
"He drives our spirit, our culture," Hornets head coach James Borrego said. "He doesn't take a play off, doesn't take a game off, doesn't take a practice off. That's an infectious spirit that we need."
In hanging on against the Heat after leading by as many as 26 points, the Hornets have won the first two games of a four-game road trip after dropping their home opener to the Milwaukee Bucks.
"I was really proud of our group," Borrego said. "They stuck together. The shots weren't going, (Miami was) hitting some shots. They were playing in desperate mode. We just stayed cool. We weren't perfect in the second half, but we executed down the stretch and I think it says a lot about the character of these guys."
Malik Monk added 15 points off the bench for the Hornets Saturday, Marvin Williams had 13, Jeremy Lamb 12 points and Cody Zeller scored 11 points and grabbed eight rebounds. Michael Kidd-Gilchrist added seven points and a career-high seven blocks off the bench. He is the fourth reserve in franchise history to record seven blocks in a game with Derrick Coleman, Al Jefferson and Jason Maxiell.
In the absence of Leonard, Kyle Lowry led the way for the Raptors against the Wizards. The Raptors were coming off a win on Friday against the Boston Celtics, who could be their main rivals in the Eastern Conference this season.
Lowry scored 28 points - 13 in the fourth quarter - and had 12 assists against the Wizards. The Raptors had seven players in double figures in scoring, including Serge Ibaka, who had 16 points with nine rebounds, Jonas Valanciunas, who had 16 points and seven rebounds and Pascal Siakam, who had 10 points and 10 rebounds.
"It's a big win for us," said Lowry, who