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Heat’s Leonard supports cause, but just couldn’t kneel for the anthem

Meyers Leonard of the Miami Heat stood during playing of the National Anthem before Saturday's game.
Meyers Leonard of the Miami Heat stood during playing of the National Anthem before Saturday's game.Kevin C. Cox/Getty

Meyers Leonard has a brother who served two tours in Afghanistan with the US Marines. He carries a military-themed backpack, wears combat boots and has a phone loaded with Navy SEALs who are his friends.

He also makes this clear: “I absolutely believe Black Lives Matter,” he said.

Still, the Heat forward simply could not bring himself to kneel for the national anthem.

Wearing a Black Lives Matter T-shirt over a jersey that he ordered to say “Equality,” and as all other coaches and players around him knelt, Leonard stood for the playing of “The Star-Spangled Banner” on Saturday before the Heat re-opened their season by facing the Nuggets.

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“Some of the conversations I’ve had over the past three days, quite literally, have been the most difficult,” Leonard said before the Heat’s 125-105 rout of the Nuggets. “I am with the Black Lives Matter movement and I love and support the military and my brother and the people who have fought to defend our rights in this country.”

Jimmy Butler and Bam Adebayo each scored 22 points to pace the Heat in the first restart game for both teams. Kelly Olynyk scored all of his 20 points in the fourth quarter for the Heat, who shot 56% from the field. The win moved the Heat within 1½ games of the Celtics for the third spot in the Eastern Conference. They play the Celtics on Tuesday. The Nuggets played without guards Jamal Murray (hamstring), Will Barton (knee),

Warren’s 53 points lead Pacers

T.J. Warren scored a career-high 53 points, Victor Oladipo added 15 after reversing course on opting out of the NBA restart, and the Indiana Pacers beat the Philadelphia 76ers, 127-121. A sixth-year player acquired from Phoenix in an offseason trade, Warren was 20 of 29 from the field and 9 of 12 from 3-point range in his first game with at least 50 points. “I just wanted to be aggressive, do what I do best,” Warren said. “My teammates did a great job of finding me, and just staying aggressive and locked in and engaged was really key for us.” The Pacers (40-26) took control of the fifth seed in the Eastern Conference by breaking a tie with the 76ers and winning the season series. Both teams have clinched playoff spots. Joel Embiid had 41 points and 21 rebounds for the Sixers, who couldn’t hang on after taking a 10-point lead early in the fourth quarter … Paul George made three straight 3-pointers in the opening minutes and scored 28 points for the Los Angeles Clippers in a 126-103 victory over the New Orleans Pelicans. Los Angeles broke a franchise record by making 25 of 47 3-pointers, with George making 8 of 11 … . . . Kyle Lowry had 33 points and 14 rebounds and the defending NBA champion Raptors restarted their season by beating the slow-starting Lakers for the 11th straight time, 107-92. LeBron James had 20 points and 10 rebounds for the Lakers, whose magic number for clinching the top seed in the West remains at one.

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