SAN ANTONIO – The San Antonio Spurs used their veteran experience to earn a thrilling 105-102 victory over the league-best Boston Celtics (22-5) at the AT&T Center on Friday night.
Manu Ginobili’s three-pointer from the wing with five seconds remaining in regulation proved to be the difference. Kyrie Irving had a chance to send the game into overtime on the final play of the game, but his shot went around and out as time expired.
The win was the third straight for the Spurs and their eighth straight win at home, improving to 13-2 inside the friendly confines.
Here is what went good and bad for the Spurs, as well as three standout players: LaMarcus Aldridge, Manu Ginobili, and Rudy Gay.
- The Spurs beat the best team in the NBA. That is always a good thing. What the win so impressive is how they battled back after a slow start against a hot-shooting Kyrie Irving club.
- LaMarcus Aldridge continues to play well and did so again on Friday against a very aggressive Boston defense.
- Rudy Gay is starting to look like the Rudy Gay of old.
- Manu Ginobili continues to drink his ‘Grandpa Juice.’
- San Antonio’s trend of getting off to a slow start continued on Friday. Boston quickly jumped out to a 5-0 lead, prompting Coach Pop to call timeout. The Celtics then went up 11-0 as the Spurs scored their first points nearly six minutes into the first quarter. The Celtics led by as many as 12 points in the opening period of play.
- As good as Rudy Gay played, he also committed four turnovers. The most of any Spur on Friday.
- Danny Green did not play in the second half with a groin injury. And if I had to guess, he will most likely miss Saturday’s game in Phoenix.
Three Standout Players:
LaMarcus Aldridge: There’s no reason to recap the great start to the season LaMarcus Aldridge has had to this point, but Friday night may have been his best play yet. The Spurs forward finished with a team-high 27 points to go along with 10 rebounds and he did so against a tough Boston defense.
Aldridge knew that he would be tested and he was. Boston coach Brad Stevens threw former Spur Aron Baynes at Aldridge as well as Al Horford, but neither was a match for the All-Star forward. Aldridge banged down low, drawing fouls and scored by using some nice footwork and pump fakes. If they haven’t already, Spurs fans should start to feel confident that Aldridge will keep up this level of play when Kawhi Leonard returns to the court.
Rudy Gay: With Kawhi Leonard and Kyle Anderson out, Pop has gone to Rudy Gay as a starter. The move has paid off, but none bigger than against the Celtics. Gay scored 15 points on 6-of-9 shooting and was 3-of-4 from three-point range.
Gay was the second highest scoring starter behind Aldridge and did so impressive fashion. He looked like the Rudy Gay from his days as a member of the Memphis Grizzlies. He pulled up for three’s, rebounded, and went to the basket with aggressive force. Gay also showed his defensive side as he had a nice block in the third quarter. Let’s hope this is the start of consistent play from Rudy. It would be huge when paired with Leonard and Aldridge.
Manu Ginobili: Whenever you hit a game-winner at 40 years old, you are going to be a standout player. Manu Ginobili finished with 11 points off the bench on Friday, including going 2-for-4 from three point range.
Ginobili took his dose of #GrandpaJuice as his first three came at the end of the first half, giving the Spurs their first lead of the game. His second would give the Silver and Black the victory.
It just goes to show you how reliable Ginobili continues to be. Even at 40.
Up next: The Spurs are now 18-8 on the season and will return to the court on Saturday when they take on the Phoenix Suns at 8 p.m. from Talking Stick Resort Arena.