SAN ANTONIO – The San Antonio Spurs used a hot third quarter run to take control and defeat the Brooklyn Nets (12-21) 109-97 at the AT&T Center on Tuesday night.
The win was the eleventh straight win inside the friendly confines, with their last loss at home coming against the Milwaukee Bucks on November 10. LaMarcus Aldridge and Kawhi Leonard combined for 41 points in the victory as six Spurs scored in double figures.
Here is what went good and bad for the Spurs, as well as three standout players: Leonard, Aldridge, and Manu Ginobili.
- Kawhi Leonard saw extended minutes for the second straight game and had his best game since returning from injury.
- Tony Parker continues to look like the ‘old’ Tony as he weaved in and out of the paint, dished the ball, and had his jump shot working. Parker finished with 14 points and four rebounds in the game.
- Rudy Gay took off his headband.
- Pau Gasol continues to show why he re-signed with the Spurs in the offseason.
- San Antonio was at a full roster for the first time all season, which saw Coach Pop shuffle different lineup combinations. The odd combos saw the Spurs turn over the basketball and not share the ball much in the first half.
- Rudy Gay might not want to ever wear a headband again. He had a turnover, missed two shots, and fouled a member of the Nets on the three-point line. Not a good first sequence for the Spur.
Three Standout Players:
Kawhi Leonard: The good news is Kawhi Leonard had his best game and played the most minutes since his return. The bad news is he still rusty in some parts of his game. Leonard finished with 21 points on 8-of-17 shooting in 26 minutes.
Leonard showed he is getting more comfortable on the floor as he found his way to the basket on more than one occasion. He put down a slam dunk and a Dr. J-like lay up for four of his 21 points. The two-time Defensive Player of the Year was 2-for-5 from three point range as well. It goes to show once Leonard can play a full game he and Aldridge can help the Spurs push for a top two seed later in the season.
LaMarcus Aldridge: One of the biggest questions on everyone’s minds is can Kawhi Leonard and LaMarcus Aldridge co-exist on the same team? We got our first real glimpse into that on Tuesday with some promising results. Aldridge finished with 20 points on 7-of-15 shooting, going along with nine rebounds.
Leonard and Aldridge combined for 41 of San Antonio’s 109 points on Tuesday. At one point in the first quarter, Aldridge had the ball in the post and Brooklyn doubled him, he then passed the ball to a wide open Leonard at the top of the key for a three-pointer. It shows that the two are working on becoming a one-two scoring punch after much talk of Aldridge’s ‘unhappiness’ the past few years.
If these two can play like this or even better than they did Tuesday, it will make the Spurs extremely dangerous going forward.
Manu Ginobili: Grandpa Juice did it again on Tuesday, being a key spark in the Spurs’ win. Ginobili finished with 11 points off the bench on 4-of-7 shooting along with two rebounds and three assists.
There’s nothing that has been said about the heart Ginobili plays with every single night. But at age 40, it shows how important he is to the team. Ginobili did his classic high screen and roll with Aldridge, finding his way to the paint, dishing the rock, and even getting a put back slam plus the harm.
Ginobili may be on the tail end of his career, but this season may be one of the most magical yet.
The Spurs are now 24-11 on the season and will return to the court on Thursday when they welcome the New York Knicks (17-16) to the AT&T Center at 7:30 p.m.