Spurs close out, close in on West’s top spot
By Mike Monroe
BOSTON — The Spurs had been the most efficient offensive team in basketball.
They averaged an NBA-best 107 points per game in the month of March and, for good measure, piled up a season-high 125 points Tuesday in Cleveland to begin April.
Their coach calls the scoring explosion a necessary adjustment for a team he rates no better than above-average on defense. It also had made them the league’s hottest team of late with eight straight wins.
When the offensive magic disappeared in the second half at TD Garden against the Celtics, winners of five in a row before Wednesday’s showdown, it took some old-fashioned defensive magic to secure a ninth consecutive win — an 87-86 victory in the Spurs’ lowest scoring game in more than three months.
But a win is a win. This one, coupled with the Thunder’s close loss in Miami on Wednesday, puts the Spurs only one game out of first place in the Western Conference.
Who better to demonstrate the Spurs’ old way than Tim Duncan, whose challenge of an 18-foot jumper by Boston’s Paul Pierce forced an awkward miss that helped the Spurs ? hold on?
Trailing by a point with 7.9 seconds left, the Celtics called a pair of 20-second timeouts to set up a play for Pierce.
With a foul to give before Boston would be in the bonus, Spurs coach Gregg Popovich had instructed his players to foul Pierce before he could get off a shot. Told to switch on every screen, Duncan ended up defending Pierce after he took a pass from Rajon Rondo.
“I knew we had a foul to give, but once he turned that corner and got his shoulders squared to the basket, I wasn’t going to do it,” Duncan said. “Once he turned the corner and kind of squared his shoulder, when you reach out to grab somebody these days, they’re programmed to look like they’re shooting. I didn’t want to do it at that point.”
Instead, Duncan stretched his 6-foot-11 frame and made Pierce shoot a high-arching shot that was badly off line.
“I stood in front of him and challenged his shot,” Duncan said. “If you go back and look at the history, at least what I’ve seen, that’s the shot he wants.”
NO D, NO RING!!!!
With 26 points on 4 of 4 shots from distance in only 20 minutes of PT. Efficient eviceration.
Wolves' fan: ginobili vs. the wolves is like he's just kind of laughing to himself all game...kind of like he thinks it's cute that they're trying to play basketball.
I always go by losses. They have the same number of losses as OKC and the Spurs have the tiebreaker. They are only a game back because OKC has played more games.
And the Spurs need to end up with less losses than the Heat or Bulls, because they don't have the tiebreaker against them. Looking far ahead, I know.
Last edited by Uwe Blab; 04-05-12 at 12:43 PM.
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