Give the Spurs a day of rest, Gregg Popovich a day of practice and Manu Ginobili a chance to return to the lineup and good results should be expected.
The Spurs’ 103-89 victory over struggling New Jersey Saturday night wasn’t really much of a surprise.
It continued the Spurs’ strong charge through the Rodeo Road Trip as they stretched their winning streak to seven games.
During victories over Memphis, Philadelphia and New Jersey, the Spurs have been able to stay ahead during most of the games.
Out of possible 144 minutes over the last three games, the Spurs have been behind only 13 minutes, 31 seconds in those games. And most of that time (10:15) came in the Memphis game.
Those leads have enabled the Spurs to control game tempo and play like one of the league’s elite teams.
After the first three games of the road trip, the Spurs have put aside lingering concerns about their ability to play away from the ATT Center.
It’s been a good start after the first three games of the road trip. Here’s how the Spurs claimed their victory Saturday night.
The game, simply stated: With the return of Ginobili energizing them, the Spurs pounced on the NBA’s worst defensive team and cruised to an easy 103-89 victory over the Nets.
Where the game was won: Danny Green snapped out of a shooting slump to hit a pair of 3-pointers that started and punctuated a 10-4 run midway through the second quarter. Green’s first shot gave the Spurs a 31-24 lead with 8:25 left in the second quarter and his next one pushed the advantage to 38-28 with 5:41 left. Both came on passes from DeJuan Blair.
Closing it out: After Deron Williams’ three had pulled the Nets within 62-56 with 5:49 left in the third quarter, the Spurs finished the quarter on a 15-3 spurt that put the game away. The Nets missed their final 10 shots of the quarter and had three turnovers as they failed to score a field goal during that stretch.
Player of the game I: Gary Neal came off the bench to score 18 points on 8-for-10 shooting including two 3-pointers. Neal hit his first five shots as they did not miss until late in the third quarter as the biggest catalyst off the Spurs’ bench.
Player of the game II: Tim Duncan filled the score sheet with an efficient game, logging 13 points, 10 rebounds, five assists, two blocked shots and a steal in 23:30 of playing time.
Player of the game III: Williams provided most of the Nets’ offense with 27 points and eight assists. But Williams struggled as the game continued, hitting only 5 of 15 shots after the first quarter.
Most unsung: Blair provided his strongest game in several weeks, providing 11 points, five rebounds and two assists.
Attendance: The Nets mean for Saturday night to be a nod to the Nets’ ABA roots, but the crowd at the Prudential Center didn’t respond very well. It appeared the Spurs had a sizable contingent among the crowd of 15,272 — nearly 3,000 less than the building’s capacity. The struggling Nets have attracted two sellouts all season and none since LeBron James and Miami visited in their third game.
Did you notice I: Ginobili seemed to be favoring his injured left hand early in the game. That reflexive action will dissipate with the more playing time he receives.
Did you notice II: Spurs television analyst Sean Elliott called Blair him “the dancing bear” because of a couple of agile moves. But when Blair is active and productive in the post, it gives the Spurs’ offense a completely different look.
Stat of the game: The Spurs hit 52.5 percent from the field. It was their best shooting effort since hitting 54.7 percent in the victory at New Orleans on Jan. 23 and among their five best shooting efforts this season.
Stat of the game II: San Antonio limited New Jersey to 89 points. It marked the 10th consecutive opponent the Spurs have limited to less than 100 points in regulation.
Stat of the game III: One of the Nets’ few strengths coming into the game was their perimeter shooting as they ranked 11th in the league in 3-point percentage. But they clanked to a 29.2 percent effort against the Spurs — one of their nine worst 3-point shooting efforts of the season.
Stat of the game IV: The victory was the Spurs’ seventh in a row and is their longest streak since winning eight straight games between Jan. 7-21, 2011.
Stat of the game V: It was the sixth straight loss for New Jersey, which fell to 3-10 at home.
Stat of the game VI: Duncan notched a double-double in points and rebounds for the fourth straight game. It marked the first time he acheived that feat since the final game of the regular season and first three games of the playoffs against Memphis last season.
Weird stat of the game: The four Williamses on the Nets roster — Deron, Jordan, Shawne and Shelden — combined to hit 10 for 35 from the field (28.7 percent). The rest of the Nets team went 25 for 52 (48.1 percent).
Weird stat of the game II: The Spurs efficiently picked apart the Nets for 25 assists on their 42 field goals. All but one Spurs player produced at least one assist as Kawhi Leonard was the only player to miss out.
Weird stat of the game III: Green snapped his field-goal streak at 17 consecutive misses before hitting a 3-pointer with 8:25 left in the second quarter. His last successful field goal before that came in the third quarter of the Spurs’ Feb. 4 victory over Oklahoma City — a span of nearly a week.
Not a good sign: Tony Parker cooled down after his recent blitz to make the All-Star team. He hit 4 of 11 from the field and scored 12 points. His 36.3 percent shooting from the field was one of his six worst shooting efforts of the season and his points ranked among his seven lowest-scoring outings of the season.
Best plus/minus scores: Parker was plus-15, Green was plus-12, Neal was plus-11 and Tiago Splitter was plus-10.
Worst plus/minus scores: Cory Joseph was minus-4 and James Anderson was minus-1.
Quote of the game: “Conditioning-wise, I’m behind. Basketball-wise, I’m behind. I know the only way to get back is to play,” Ginobili, to reporters about his return to the lineup.
How the schedule stacks up: The Spurs will take two days off — their second two-day break in less than a week — before a back-to-back Tuesday night in Detroit and Wednesday night in Toronto. They will return home briefly before beginning the Western part of the road trip Saturday afternoon at the Los Angeles Clippers. The Nets will have three days off before hosting Memphis on Wednesday and road games Thursday at Indiana and Saturday at Chicago.
Injuries: T.J. Ford missed his 18th game (Spurs record 13-5) with a torn left hamstring. New Jersey was missing center Mehmet Okur (sore lower back), guard DeShawn Stevenson (sore right knee), guard Keith Bogans (fractured left ankle/torn deltoid ligament), guard Damion James (right foot surgery) and center Brook Lopez (broken right foot).