Big third quarter fuels Spurs to win

Associated Press  |  Last updated December 31, 2012
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The Brooklyn Nets ended 2012 a few hours earlier than most. Tony Parker had 20 points and the San Antonio Spurs held the Nets to only five points in the third quarter en route to a 104-73 win Monday night. MarShon Brooks had a season-high 16 points to lead Brooklyn (16-15), which suffered its first loss under interim head coach P.J. Carlesimo. Joe Johnson added 12 points and Brook Lopez had 11, but Deron Williams was held to eight points and one assist. San Antonio set a franchise low for fewest points by an opponent in the third quarter when it held the Nets to 10-percent shooting (2 for 20). ''I'm actually surprised it wasn't worse,'' Carlesimo said. Tim Duncan added 15 points and Nando DeColo had 11, while Kawhi Leonard, Tiago Splitter and Matt Bonner chipped in 10 apiece for San Antonio (25-8), which won its sixth straight. The Spurs had seven players score in the third, with Duncan scoring seven and Parker adding five points and three assists. The Nets missed six 3-point attempts in the third and also had seven turnovers. ''It was bad all the way around - offensively and defensively,'' Williams said. ''We just couldn't put the ball in the basket. We couldn't get stops. We turned the ball over in the quarter.'' The Spurs went on a 10-0 run to start the second half as the Nets were held scoreless in the opening 4 minutes. Williams' fadeaway jumper with 7:52 left in the third was Brooklyn's lone basket in the first 10 minutes of the period. Williams was the Nets' only scorer in the third, making a free throw to complete a three-point play following a layup with 1:38 left in the quarter. The Nets missed 12 shots between Williams' baskets, including four attempts within six feet. ''We played great defense in the third quarter,'' Parker said. ''We tried to make an effort defensively and coach (Gregg) Popovich has been talking a lot about that and it has been a huge improvement for us the last two games. Defense has been great and we are on the right track.'' While Brooklyn was struggling, San Antonio had 11 assists in the quarter while going 13 of 19 from the field. Parker sparked the run by feeding Duncan for a 6-foot jumper and Splitter for a reverse layup on the Spurs' opening possessions of the third. ''I thought Tony set the tone for us,'' Popovich said. ''I thought he was a monster tonight. Offensively aggressive; defensively, really focused, really committed. I thought he was fantastic and everybody followed suit.'' San Antonio is 18-1 this season when they have led after the third period and went 9-0 at home in December. The Spurs went on a 12-4 run late in the first behind the speed of their backcourt. Parker fed Splitter for a dunk and Boris Diaw for an uncontested layup after drawing the defense on consecutive drives. Ginobili scored a pair of layups, including one after he stepped in front of a pass. Coupled with their 111-86 victory over the Dallas Mavericks on Sunday, San Antonio has now swept six back-to-back games this season and is 11-5 in those contests. The Spurs hit the road for back-to-back games at Milwaukee on Wednesday and Thursday at New York. The lopsided third quarter allowed San Antonio to limit its minutes Monday night. No Spurs players put in more than 26 minutes. ''It was very important for us, especially since we have a long trip tomorrow,'' Ginobili said of the rest. ''We are going through a tough stretch but it is great to have a chance to sit most of the fourth tonight.'' Notes: Spurs G Gary Neal (strained right calf) missed his fourth straight game and sixth this season. . Brooklyn F Gerald Wallace (bruised left knee) missed his eighth game of the season. . Johnson, Andray Blatche and C.J. Watson are the only Nets to play in every game this season. Johnson has started each of those games. . The fewest points an opponent has scored in any quarter is three by Denver during the opening period on Nov. 27, 2002. . The Nets have not won in San Antonio since Jan. 22, 2002, a streak of 11 games. . Carlesimo was Popovich's lead assistant with the Spurs from 2002-2007 before leaving to become head coach of Seattle in 2007. The SuperSonics moved to Oklahoma City the following season, where Carlesimo was fired 13 games into the season.
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