Veteran scores 16 points, 10 in the pivotal 4th quarter.
The San Antonio Spurs held off a young and hungry Boston Celtics squad that were in the game up until the final stanza. The Celtics were led by Avery Bradly, who nearly had a triple double with 25 points, 10 boards and six assists. The Spurs were led by Kawhi Leonard who had 26 points on 9-16 shooting.
“I’ve said the last couple of days that we’ve made progress,” Celtics coach Brad Stevens said. “I didn’t think we played as well tonight as we did in Oklahoma City or maybe even at home against Toronto, but they had a lot to do with that. And every time that we got within striking distance, Kawhi Leonard made a huge play or they came up with a loose ball or an offensive rebound.
“They’re tremendous at maximizing every detail of the game. And, you know, hey, we’ve had our moments where we play really well, but we’re not as good as them at that.”
“It was just one of those situations,” Guard Tony Parker said. “It was kind of like they were coming back, and (Spurs coach Gregg Popovich) is the boss, I just try to do whatever he wants. Just put me in that situation. I’m just happy they went in.”
The Suns and Tim Duncan Retirement Day
The Spurs hit the road to take on the Phoenix Suns tonight before returning home to celebrate Tim Duncan’s retirement from the franchise this Sunday in a game against the New Orleans Pelicans.
Must face the Jazz, Warriors and Nuggets on the road first
The San Antonio Spurs have nothing left to prove in the regular season so whether or not they put their A- game effort remains to be seen. Keeping their home record at zero losses would seem to be the more important than going all out to win on the road.
Not that the team will not play at a high level, it could very well be the Spurs B team against the very same , especially against the Warriors, since they have given up a game at home now. Records are really unimportant to the Spurs collective where the big prize is always the only goal.
“We don’t pay attention, nor are allowed to care,” San Antonio guard Danny Green said. “It’s fun to be a part of something big, or be a part of history or make history, but we’re looking at the bigger pictures.”
For the Spurs during the Popovich era, it has always been about the title, but even Tim Duncan hitting his 1000th victory with the teams next win is something to talk about. He already owns the record for most victories with one team.
“He’s got a lot of miles on his body, and he still comes in day-in and day-out, first guy in the gym, last guy to leave,” Green said. “Same routine every day, lot of energy, great focus. It’s tough to do, and I don’t know how he continues to stay motivated playing 20 years and winning so many championships.”
The Chicago Bulls came into the AT&T Center needing a win to keep pace with the Detroit Pistons for the eighth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. They ended up on the wrong end of 109-101 loss. The Pistons upset the Dallas Mavericks with a 102-96 in Big D moving a half game ahead of the Bulls.
In the Spurs victory, Tim Duncan became only the sixth player in NBA history to collect 15K rebounds, which he did midway through the 1st quarter when he received a standing ovation from the loyal Silver & Black crowd.
“I don’t know what they’re supposed to mean,” Duncan said. “They are what they are. Everybody keeps asking how does it feel. I don’t know what it’s supposed to feel like. I’ve been at it for a long time. I’m honored to be on a list with these guys and when I look back it will mean a whole lot, but right now I’m just trying to play better, trying to get healthy and trying to help the team.”
The Spurs have little time to dwell over individual accomplishments as they prepare for a hungry Oklahoma City Thunder squad taking the AT&T Center court tomorrow. The Thunder are coming off a 120-108 thrashing of the Los Angeles Clippers and face a Minnesota Timberwolves squad that has won only 20 games.
“If you’re ever going to get better, if you’re ever going to win,” Timberwolves interim coach Sam Mitchell said, “you have to remember the times where you got your butt kicked.”