“They’re a well-oiled machine, particularly on the offensive end, but they brought a great deal of energy on the defensive end tonight and it was too much for us to overcome.”
That was Indiana Pacers head coach Frank Vogel after his team was defeated by 22-points at the hands of the San Antonio Spurs who have set a franchise record in their team history with a 4-0 start.
“Their continuity is evident just watching them play,” continued Vogel on the Spurs’ consistency on both sides of the floor throughout the game.
Gary Neal was the leading scorer off the bench with 17 points on 8-of-10 shooting. That’s just the start for the Spurs’ scoring. Tim Duncan and DeJuan Blair both scored 14 points and grabbed 11 rebounds, while Stephen Jackson added 12 points and Danny Green added 10. Tony Parker, struggled to score six points (3/13 FG), but he still managed to collect seven assists.
The Spurs’ bench outscored Indiana’s bench 57-35, while the Spurs also dominated in the paint 52-24, but it was the Spurs’ defense that was the key to the victory Monday. George Hill was back in San Antonio, and although he led the Pacers in scoring with 15 points, it took him 15 shot attempts.
“They (Spurs) are realizing that if we don’t get better defensively,” said Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich after the game, “we don’t have a shot at being the last team standing.”
Here’s the rundown.
First Quarter: Spurs 26, Pacers 18
Offense: From the time the score read “Pacers 9-7”, the Spurs used a 6-0 run to boost their lead to as many as seven points at one time. Duncan ended the first with six points, while Boris Diaw and Green each scored five points in the first quarter.
Defense: The Spurs’ defense held the Pacers to 27% shooting in the first quarter. The Spurs did a good job of keeping the Pacers out of the paint as a majority of Indiana’s shots were outside of the paint. The defense held the Pacers to making just six (6-of-22) shots in the first quarter.
Second Quarter: Spurs 47, Pacers 38
Offense: The Spurs came out on fire by outscoring the Pacers 18-9 in the first eight minutes to build a 20 point lead in the second quarter. Then, Hill and David West (10 points) made a resurgence for Indiana as they brought Pacers back to end the quarter on an 11-0 run.
Defense: The Spurs’ defense was superb for the majority of the quarter, but in those last three minutes, they just couldn’t get a stop to stop the Pacers’ 11-0 run. For the half, the Spurs held the Pacers to 30% shooting while only giving up 20 points in the quarter.
Third Quarter: Spurs 73, Pacers 60
Offense: The Spurs scored 26 points in the third quarter behind Duncan, Green, Parker, and Jackson. Though they got the lead as high as 17 points, the Spurs could never quite get Indiana out of reach.
Defense: The defense held the Pacers to 22 points and after three; the Pacers were shooting 33% from the floor. The defense held Hill to just three points in the quarter, while Paul George (14 points) was able to only add five to his total in that quarter. The Spurs continued to keep the Pacers out of the paint by the end of the third; the Pacers only had 18 points in the paint.
Fourth Quarter: Spurs 101, Pacers 79
Offense: The Spurs, more specifically Neal held a comfortable lead in the fourth quarter as Neal poured in 11 points in the quarter. The Spurs’ largest lead grew to 23 points in the quarter.
Defense: The Spurs’ second unit played the majority of the fourth and with that came solid defense as the team held the Pacers to just 19 points. The Pacers for the entire game shot 34%. Overall, the Spurs forced the Pacers to commit 19 turnovers where the Spurs scored 18 points.
“They are a complete team,” continued Vogel, “(Gregg) Popovich has an incredible system and incredible way of teaching it. It’s admirable.”
· The Spurs’ defense has shown improvement four games into the season. Tonight against the Pacers, they played two quarters in which they held the Pacers under 20 points while only giving up 22 points at most.
· After the game, Hill said that he continues to keep in touch with Blair and told Blair to keep “pounding the rock” when there are moments when he doesn’t get any playing time.
· Hill also mentioned to me that he keeps in contact with Green and Kawhi Leonard, and said he’s happy that the two young players have continued to excel in the Spurs’ system.
· I also asked Roy Hibbert if he still speaks with Duncan, he had this: “We talk from time to time and text from week to week.”
· Finally, Matt Tynan of Pounding the Rock mentioned it in the fourth quarter, but the Spurs truly might have the most entertaining “garbage” time team when they have a huge lead. Nando De Colo provided a spectacular highlight as he threw a pass under his legs to Blair, who fed it to Tiago Splitter for the finish.
The Spurs will hit the road for their next four games as they prepare to face the Los Angeles Clippers on Wednesday in Staples Center.