Leonard, Mills lead Parker-less Spurs over Suns

After falling to the Golden State Warriors in overtime on Friday, the San Antonio Spurs were on the final leg of their nine-game Rodeo Road Trip Sunday in Phoenix where they were missing their All-Star point guard Tony Parker (right triceps contusion) and backup shooting guard Gary Neal (tightness, left calf).TimesUnion.com

After 48-minutes, a game that had some excellent defense at times, and on-and-off offense on both sides, the Spurs used a 14-0 run in the second quarter to build a dynamic lead throughout the night that got as high as 21 points, but eventually ended with the Spurs winning 97-87.

Since Sunday was also the Oscars, the recap will be presented in an Oscar’s style formatting.

Best Picture: Spurs earn 45th win of the season.

It wasn’t the most eye appealing game of the season and even the Phoenix fans were out of their seats most of the night, but the game was competitive throughout the night as the Suns never let the Spurs get more than a 21-point lead on them, and they would have their spurts where they would get the game back down to 10-12 points on occasion.

Best actor in a leading role: Kawhi Leonard – 16 points, 9 rebounds, 3 steals, 2 assists, 1 block.

With Parker absent, Tim Duncan and Manu Ginobili both playing less than 28 minutes in the game, Leonard was the Spurs’ anchor on both the offense and defensive end. Whether it was grabbing rebounds, finishing in the open court with a one-handed dunk, or pump faking on the baseline and finishing with a jumper, Leonard led a group of six Spurs who scored in double figures.

Best actor in a supporting role: Patty Mills – 16 points, 12 points in the second quarter.

The second quarter was the reason the Spurs were able to gain a comfortable lead as Mills led the charge of the second unit with a 14-0 run to begin the quarter. Mills was the force behind the run as he scored 12 points in the second quarter with both his outside shot and his ability to get into the lane and finish. Mills also made 5-of-5 free throws in the second quarter as well, as he continued to draw contact from the Suns’ defenders.

Costume design: Spurs’ silver uniforms

The Spurs wore their silver alternative uniforms and the Suns wore their classic 90s black uniforms. The reason the nod goes to the Spurs is because even though there’s no statistic to follow this rumor, the rumor is the Spurs are undefeated in the silver uniforms this season. Even though there’s no official data, the Spurs’ record vs. the Suns’ record already proves the case.

Cinematography: Tim Duncan’s offensive rebound turned dunk in the first quarter.

In the first quarter, Tim Duncan slammed an offensive rebound down on top of a Suns defender’s head for the two points. If the photographer got a picture of the dunk, it might be the best Cinematographic scene of the game.

Best director: Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich

Minus his All-Star point guard who runs his machine-like offense, Popovich led his Spurs to a victory in which six of his players scored in double figures, without making one player play too many minutes, and his team held Phoenix to less than 90 points overall. His team did turn the ball over 17 times, but since it was a team like the Suns, the Spurs didn’t pay too much of a consequence for the turnovers because the offense was coming so fluidly.

Visual effects: Ginobili’s full-court pass to Mills

 In the second half, Ginobili grabbed a defensive rebound and threw a full court one-handed pass over his shoulder to a wide-open Mills who finished the play with a layup.

Other notable players in the victory

Tiago Splitter finished the game with 14 points and five rebounds. Boris Diaw was aggressive offensively to the end the game with 12 points, while Ginobili ended with 12 points and six assists. Noticed by Andrew McNeil of 48MinutesOfHell.com, Ginobili only made one field goal in the game and the rest of his points came from free throws. Lastly, Duncan ended the game with 10 points and eight rebounds, as the Suns continued to allow him to shoot open jumpers on pick-and-roll plays.

An encore on Wednesday

The Spurs will have two days off before resuming play on Wednesday back in San Antonio against the Suns. This will be the Spurs’ first home game after playing nine games on the road almost for three straight weeks ago.

Where they stand

Here are a few stats showing where the Spurs stand in certain categories in the NBA.

Season record: 45-13  

Rodeo Road Trip Final Record: 7-2

Road Record: 23-11  

Vs. teams below .500: 27-3  

Vs. the Western Conference: 25-9

In wins by 10 or more points: 25-4

(Photo: TimesUnion.com)

Paul Garcia

About Paul Garcia

Paul is a San Antonio Spurs credentialed media member for Project Spurs. He covered the 2013 NBA All-Star Game in Houston, TX, and the 2013 and 2014 NBA Finals. Paul has been featured on WOAI, Fox 29, and numerous nationwide radio shows.

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