Behind a 14-2 run in a span of close to four minutes in the fourth quarter on Monday, the San Antonio Spurs went from leading by nine points to 21 points over the Indiana Pacers. With the Spurs leading by 21 and 3:37 left in the fourth, Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich and Pacers head coach Frank Vogel both emptied their benches, as the Spurs went onto defeat the Pacers 103-77.
After scoring just 16 points in his last three games combined, Tony Parker led the Spurs with 22 points and four assists against the Pacers. Boris Diaw scored nine of his 14 points in the fourth quarter, while Kawhi Leonard, who also had to guard Paul George for a majority of the night, scored 13 points and grabbed 11 rebounds. Here were some keys to the Spurs’ franchise record 18th victory in a row.
The French tandem: Parker catches fire, Diaw x-factor in fourth quarter
From the get-go, Parker had led the Spurs in scoring in each quarter, leading up to the fourth, with six points in the first quarter, and eight points in each of the second and third quarter. Whether he had former teammate George Hill, or even Lance Stephenson guarding him for different possessions, Parker was able to knock down his shots from either part of the court – outside or inside as shown below from his shot chart.
On contested shots, Parker shot 45.5% (5-of-11) and on uncontested looks 71.4% (5-of-7), percentages that show he was able to catch fire even against a top rated defense that the Pacers possess.
In the fourth, the Spurs began to run their offense through Diaw in the post, which in turn, gave the Pacers little to counter with as Diaw scored nine points on 3-of-3 shooting, as he was able to work in the paint or kick the ball out to his teammates. Diaw was an instrumental part in the Spurs’ 14-2 run in the fourth that allowed the Spurs to put the game away. Diaw had the third most touches (46) and passes (33) on the Spurs, which was another weapon the Spurs went to, as Parker had carried San Antonio through the previous three quarters.
Machine gets tested, still rolls along
With a top-tier defense in the Pacers, the Spurs’ machine-like offense was bound to see some of their strengths on offense limited. The 3-6 passes on a possession were limited, as the team assisted on just 18 of their 37 made baskets. However, the Spurs still shot 46% from the floor and 47% from 3-point range (8 of 17). Only five players touched the ball 40 or more times, while five also threw 30 or more passes, numbers below the Spurs’ usual average. The Spurs though, were still able to produce quality looks as they had 42 contested looks and 38 uncontested shots. On those uncontested looks, the Spurs knocked down 22 of them (58%). One element of the Spurs’ offense that maintained control was the turnovers, as the Spurs only turned the ball over eight times in the game. Though there weren’t plenty of transition looks, the Spurs still outscored the Pacers 9-0 out on the fast break.
Even though only four players scored in double figures for the Spurs, they still got productive contributions in each quarter from various players, as shown below in the quarter-by-quarter scoring (over 5 points).
1Q: Parker 6 points, Danny Green 5 points
2Q: Parker 8 points, Mills 7 points
3Q: Parker 8 points, Leonard 5 points
4Q: Diaw 9 points, Marco Belinelli 7 points, Jeff Ayres 6 points
Pacers struggling offense unable to find success against the Spurs’ defense
The Pacers came into the match only scoring over 100 points in two of their last 10 games, and the Spurs’ defense feasted on the Pacers’ current offensive woes by never allowing the Pacers to score more than 24 points in a quarter, while the Spurs also held Indiana below 20 points in two different quarters. The Spurs’ defense held the Pacers to 38% shooting and forced 16 turnovers. The Spurs’ defense also contested nearly 59% of the Pacers’ looks, as Indiana shot 17-of-41 on contested looks.
Some Spurs players who helped in the defensive effort were Leonard, Green, Duncan, and Splitter, as they helped hold Paul George, Roy Hibbert, Lance Stephenson, and David West to a combined 18-of-45 shooting (40%) for a combined 53 points. Leonard in particular, contested seven of George’s shots, as George only made two of those contest looks.
A look into the 18-game winning streak
During their 18-game winning streak, the Spurs are beating teams by an average of 16.6 points per game. The Spurs are scoring 111.2 points, shooting 49.3% from the field, 43.9% from three, collecting 28.4 assists, and only turning the ball over 14.0 times per game. Defensively, they’re holding teams to 94.7 points per game during the streak.
The Spurs are ranked first in Offensive Rating with 112.5 points per 100 possessions and ranked first in Defensive Rating by holding teams to 96.5 points per 100 possessions during the streak. The Spurs also have the highest Net Rating, outscoring teams by 16.1 points per 100 possessions.
8 Regular Season Games left
With eight regular season games remaining and the Spurs holding onto the best record in the NBA at 58-16, San Antonio has a 3.5 game lead over the Oklahoma City Thunder (54-19) in the Western Conference and a 6.5 game lead over both the Pacers (52-23) and Miami Heat (51-22) overall.
Where San Antonio Stands
- Regular Season: 58-16 (Lead the NBA)
- Road Record: 29-8 (Lead the NBA)
- Vs. Opponents with +.500 records: 23-14
- Vs. The Eastern Conference: 24-6
- Post All-Star Break Record: 20-1 (Lead the NBA)
- Since Kawhi Leonard returned from injury: 18-0
- The Spurs finished March undefeated at 16-0. (Second time in franchise history)
- The Spurs are 32-0 when Tiago Splitter scores over 7 points in a game.
- Of the Spurs’ 58 wins, 33 have been by double-figures.
(All Stats and Player Tracking data via NBA.com)