With the injuries to Stephen Jackson and Kawhi Leonard, the San Antonio Spurs are missing two of their strongest defensive players in their lineup.
How do you compensate with the missing defense on the wing? Well, with offense.
That’s just what the Spurs did in Boston on Wednesday as they outscored the Celtics 112-100 in a game where six players scored in double figures, most notable Tony Parker (26 points, 6 assists), Tiago Splitter (23 points, 2 steals, 1 block), and Tim Duncan (20 points, 15 rebounds).
Here’s the rundown.
First quarter: Spurs 30, Celtics 27
The first quarter began sloppy for the Spurs as they started the game with three turnovers. They would turn the ball over just once more in the quarter, but after Duncan and DeJuan Blair (10 points) held the quarter together with a combined 13 points, Parker took over with eight points in the quarter as his defense fueled a quicker tempo for the Spurs as Parker went on a 6-0 run to reclaim the lead for the Spurs. Jason Terry (12 points) was a menace early for Gary Neal (12 points) as he scored 10 points in the first, while Paul Pierce (19 points) took advantage of the Spurs’ depleted wings as he scored nine points in the first.
Second quarter: Spurs 56, Celtics 48
The Spurs’ up-tempo offense continued in the second quarter as they outscored the Celtics 26-21. Though Boston hung with them for the majority of the quarter, Parker’s seven points in the second led the Spurs to a 14-6 run to close the quarter to go into half shooting 56% and leading by eight points.
Boris Diaw’s defense was also a big part of the second as he held Pierce to just two points in the quarter, while Parker was moved onto Terry and Parker held Terry to two points as well in the quarter. Rajon Rondo (22 points, 15 assists, 2 steals) was also limited to one assist in the second as the Spurs put Danny Green (10 points) on him.
Third quarter: Spurs 82, Celtics 74
The Celtics came out aggressively in the third with a 10-2 run to reclaim the lead by two points early. The Spurs would continue to grind and late in the third, Green, Manu Ginobili, and Splitter were forces on both ends of the court as the Spurs matched the Celtics in scoring with 26 points each in the third quarter.
Fourth quarter: Spurs 112, Celtics 100
Neal began a strong 30-point fourth quarter for the Spurs with his outside shooting. Parker and Splitter would close the Celtics out as the Spurs built a 16-point lead. Rondo would help the Celtics make one strong push in the fourth and cut the game to six points, but in the end, Parker and Splitter were just too much for Boston down the stretch as they ended up allowing the Spurs to shoot 58% in the game.
After the game, Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich commented on Parker’s season high in scoring. “This was his best game in a while.”
The Spurs will have Thanksgiving off, but they’ll be heading to Indiana to face former Spur George Hill and the Pacers on Friday. With the win, the Spurs improved to 9-3 on the season.
· If you’re a Spurs fan who wants to see Nando De Colo in real game action, now is the time with Leonard and Jackson out. De Colo once again logged decent minutes (11:23) at both the shooting guard and point guard position.
· If you’ve watched the Utah Jazz recently, you’ll notice that they use a unique big man frontcourt with Al Jefferson, Paul Millsap, and Derrick Favors at times during games. Coach Popovich made a similar move tonight with the Spurs in the second and third quarter as he threw out a big man lineup of Blair-Splitter-Diaw. The Spurs also used a Duncan-Blair-Diaw lineup and Diaw specifically was effective in limiting Pierce in scoring in the few minutes the group was together on the floor.
· How efficient were the Spurs offensively? Outside of De Colo, every player who received floor time scored five or more points. The Spurs also put together two 30-point quarts and the least they scored in a quarter was 26 twice against the Celtics.
· After being outrebounded against the Los Angeles Clippers on Monday, the Spurs out-rebounded the Celtics without any small forwards 41-25. The Spurs also gave up just one offensive rebound.
· Tiago Splitter shot 5-of-5 from the free throw line against the Celtics.
· Despite turning the ball over 18 times, the Spurs still managed to win the game while continuing to score at an efficient rate.