The beat went on again Sunday at the ATT Center as the Spurs picked up another victory.
San Antonio ran its home winning streak starting the season to nine games with a 102-91 victory over Phoenix.
It was like the old games between the two bitter rivals in one sense. Tim Duncan contiunued a career trend as he ripped the Suns’ leaky defense like so many times before.
Amar’e Stoudemire and Mike D’Antoni might be long gone, but Duncan picked up against Marcin Gortat just like the good ol’ days against Planet Orange with 24 points and 11 rebounds in the Spurs’ victory.
Duncan notched his 49th career game against the Suns with at least 20 points and 10 rebounds in the victory, including playoff games.
Phoenix has been victimized for Duncan’s biggest games more often than any team in those games.
The Lakers are next with 40 of Duncan’s 20-10 games, followed by 39 against Dallas and 28 against Sacramento and Seattle/Oklahoma City.
Here are the highlights of Sunday’s victory for the Spurs.
Game analysis: The Spurs pounded the ballrelentlessly inside to take early control. The Suns’ weak interior defense didn’t have an answer early as the Spurs rang up 12 of their first 16 points in the paint. DeJuan Blair (10 points in the first quarter) and Duncan (eight points, four rebounds) dominated inside as the Spurs took control and never trailed after the opening 2 1/2 minutes.
Where the game was won: Phoenix closed to 92-87 on Gortat’s layup with 5:29 left. On the ensuing possession, the Spurs bled the clock before Duncan hit a clutch 15-foot turnaround over Channing Frye as the clock expired. It started San Antonio’s 10-4 spurt to close the game out.
And don’t forget about this, either: Duncan made history with his final basket of the first half. His 18-footer with 1:29 left in the second quarter boosted him past Gary Payton for 26th place on the NBA’s career scoring list. Duncan’s season-high 24-point effort gave him 21,829 points. Next up is Clyde Drexler in 25th place with 22,195 points.
Player of the game I: Duncan was the Spurs’ primary scoring option with 24 points, but he also grabbed a team-high 11 rebounds and dished off four assists in a vintage all-around performance that was his first 20-10 effort since late last season.
Player of the game II: Tony Parker ran the offense efficiently and went for 17 points and nine assists. In his last four games, Parker is averaging 21.8 points and 8.5 assists per game.
Player of the game III: Gortat was the prime beneficiary of Steve Nash’s return to the Suns’ lineup. Gortat produced season-high totals of 24 points and 15 rebounds coming at the end of a seemingly endless run of pick-and-rolls with Nash.
Most unsung: Matt Bonner had struggled offensively and defensively in a recent slump. He was active and helped the team with a strong all-around game Sunday, hitting for eight points, five rebounds, three assists and was plus-9.
Did you notice: The Spurs widened their lead in the second quarter when Phoenix hit only 26.1 percent from the field. Other than Gortat, the rest of the Suns’ team clanked through a 2-for-16 shooting effort in the quarter.
Did you notice II: Popovich didn’t hesitate to insert rookie point guard Cory Joseph for playing time early in the fourth quarter. That move effectively bridged the gap until Parker could return. And when Parker was inserted in the lineup, he contributed four points and three assists to help seal the victory.
Stat of the game: Duncan’s throwback scoring and rebounding helped subdue the Suns. Including playoffs, it was his 49th career 20-10 game in 81 career games against Phoenix.
Stat of the game II: After struggling through his worst career start after 10 games, Duncan has picked up his performance in his last four games. During that period, the Spurs’ captain has averaged 17.0 points, 9.8 rebounds and shot 58 percent from the field.
Stat of the game III: Nash provided 20 points and 10 assists in the Suns’ loss to the Spurs. Including Sunday’s loss, Nash’s career record against the Spurs including the playoffs is 36-49, a .424 winning percentage.
Weird stat of the game: Richard Jefferson contributed four assists on the Spurs’ first nine baskets. During that same period, Nash had none. Jefferson ended up with five assists — tied for second most in his Spurs’ career.
Quote of the game: “I always think he has ‘it,’ even on the nights he doesn’t have it. I think it’s amazing how he gets all of those rebounds, blocks and he’s just good on defense. He’s always doing a lot of things that probably never show up in the stat sheet,” Jefferson on Duncan’s importance to the team.
How the schedule stacks up: The Spurs take tomorrow off before a key road back-to-back with games Tuesday at Miami and Wednesday at Orlando before returning home Friday night against Sacramento. The Suns started a five-game, seven-night road trip Sunday while Disney on Ice’s Toy Story 3 takes over the US Airways Center. Their upcoming schedule includes games Tuesday at Chicago, Wednesday at New York, Friday at Boston and Jan. 23 at Dallas.
Injuries: Manu Ginobili missed his eighth game after undergoing surgery for a fractured fifth left metacarpal. T.J. Ford missed his third game with a torn left hamstring sustained Tuesday night in Milwaukee. Rookie forward Malcolm Thomas missed the game with gastroenteritis. Guard Gary Neal left the game with 7:39 remaining in the second quarter after suffering a contusion of the right quadriceps. He did not return and his availability for Tuesday’s game in Miami is undetermined. And Bonner left the game after banging knees with Phoenix forward Markieff Morris with 10:07 left in the fourth quarter. Bonner told Mike Monroe his bruised right knee wasn’t serious and he should be available for Tuesday’s game. Nash (right quad contusion) and Grant Hill (right quad tendon strain) both played after missing the Suns’ loss Friday night in New Jersey.