Going into halftime in Boston on Wednesday, San Antonio Spurs forward Tim Duncan had only scored two points and grabbed six rebounds in 15 minutes. “He had a tough first half,” said Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich of Duncan after the game, “but in the second half, he was a monster. He led the way for us.” A monster is just what Duncan portrayed in the following 20 minutes of the second half, as he scored 23 of his 25 points during the third and fourth quarter, while shooting 8-of-11 from the field, and 7-of-8 from the free throw line to lead the Spurs to a 104-92 victory over the Celtics.
“I thought our defense picked up pretty good,” said Popovich of his team in the second half. “The guys that are filling in for the injury guys, they gave everything they’ve got. They got loose balls, and they really worked hard. It was a really good win for us on the road.”
After opening with an early 11-point lead in the first quarter, the Celtics would bring themselves back guided by Kelly Olynyk in the first half (10 points), while Marco Belinelli (9 points, 5 assists), Boris Diaw (13 points), and Patty Mills (10 points) led the Spurs into the half with a slim 48-44 lead. In the third, Duncan scored 11 points as both teams scored almost equally, and the Spurs went into the fourth with a 71-66 lead. However in the fourth, the Spurs would begin to create some separation led by Duncan.
The Spurs’ lead began to escalate at the start of the fourth, as they led by 11 points three minutes into the quarter. “I think a lot of it had to do with Duncan,” said Popovich of the Spurs creating separation from the Celtics in the fourth. “The team knew how to space around him.” Duncan scored 12 points in the fourth, as the Spurs led by as many as 18 points, as they held on for the comfortable win.
With the Spurs missing Tony Parker (rest), Manu Ginobili (injury), Kawhi Leonard (injury), and Tiago Splitter (injury), their other role players stepped up their performances as Belinelli almost finished with a triple-double with 16 points, 11 rebounds, and eight assists. Diaw scored 18 points and had four assists, while Patty Mills had his hot shooting moments with 16 points off the bench, including scoring 10 points in the third quarter. Cory Joseph even got into double-figures scoring, with 11 points, five assists, four rebounds, and three steals.
“What I liked was that he moved the ball,” said Popovich of Belinelli’s performance, “he didn’t take bad shots.” Popovich also praised Joseph, Mills, and Diaw after the game along with Belinelli, in saying that they are picking up the system and executing at a moment when the Spurs needed players to make plays. The system flow was evident as the Spurs only turned the ball over 10 times in the game, they passed for 24 assists, shot 50% from the field, scored over 100 points, and won the points in the paint battle 46-32.
Duncan dominates Celtics interior
With players like Jared Sullinger, Olynyk, Jeff Green, and Brandon Bass available as the Celtics’ only front court players to defend Duncan, the Celtics had no answer as Duncan dominated Boston specifically in the paint. Take a look at his shot chart in the second half and where most of his scoring plays came from. You must also keep in mind he shot eight free throws in the second half. The Spurs dominated the Celtics 30-16 in the paint in the second half, most of the damage, coming from Duncan.
After the game, Popovich said with five days of rest coming up with the All-Star break, he didn’t mind playing Duncan as much as it took to get the win.
Spurs shut down Eastern Conference Player of the Week Sullinger
On Monday, Sullinger was announced as the Eastern Conference Player of the Week for averaging 20.3 points, 12.7 rebounds, and 1.67 blocks the week before. After having to play defense on Duncan and Boris Diaw, while also being defended by the tandem throughout the game, Sullinger finished with just 4 points, 7 rebounds, and 2 turnovers on 2-of-9 shooting. Take a look at how the Spurs handled the current Eastern Conference Player of the Week.
Where San Antonio Stands at the All-Star Break
· Regular Season: 38-15 (2nd in the Western Conference)
· Road Record: 20-7 (1st in the NBA)
· Vs. Opponents with -.500 records: 26-3
· Vs. the Eastern Conference: 16-6
· Without Manu Ginobili: 5-3
· Without Kawhi Leonard: 6-5
· Rodeo Road Trip: 4-2
· Offensive Rating: 107.4 points per 100 possessions (Ranked 7th in the NBA)
· Defensive Rating: 100.4 points per 100 possessions (Ranked 5th in the NBA)
· Net Rating: + 7.0 points per 100 possessions (Ranked 3rd in the NBA)
(All stats used via NBA.com/Stats. Quotes via Fox Sports Southwest Broadcast)