When J.R. Wilco assigned my share of this season's Final Scores, the first thing i did - aside from exuberantly fist-pumping in my living room - was to write them all down on my calendar. No, I didn't use Google or a PDA. It's a good old fashioned analog wall calendar. A good amount of my assigned games were against middle-of-the pack also-rans but there were a few that caught my attention as proverbial important games. Those I denoted with a star. Tonight's tilt against the Pacers was indeed one of those important games, a late-season match-up against an Eastern Conference powerhouse. As this season developed, and the Pacers began piling up impressive wins against good teams on their way to the league's best record, this game earned a second star on my calendar. I'm cheesy like that.
But something happened over the last month. Namely, the Pacers forgot how to put the ball in the basket. They'd lost seven of their last nine games heading into Monday's tilt against the Spurs while struggling to score 80 points a night. The Spurs, meanwhile, have been busy torching everyone on their way to an historic 17 game winning streak. Admittedly, the chasm between these two teams' state of affairs sort of buzz-killed my excitement going into tonight's important game. Surely it appeared unworthy of two stars, let alone one.
Thing is, Tony Parker must have had this game marked on his calendar, too.
After sleepwalking through the last several matchups, Tony erupted for 22 points against the Pacers, leading the streaking Spurs to a wire-to-wire dismantling of a team that boasts the NBA's best record at home.
The Spurs started the game with a 13-5 run and by the end of the quarter they'd pushed their lead to double-digits behind typically crisp passing and solid team defense. Patty Mills had seven of his 10 points in a 9-2 Spurs run to open the second quarter. That scoring burst prompted some loud booing from Pacers fans. It's weird to see a playoff-bound team in this condition, with their own fans losing hope in them in their own gym. The Spurs led 48-35 at halftime.
San Antonio refused to let the Pacers back in the game in the second half, despite Indiana briefly whittling the Spurs lead down to seven. The Pacers mounted their mini-comeback while an over-confident Spurs squad got a little cavalier with their passing. After the visitors composed themselves, Pop shrewdly adjusted his attack to run the offense through Boris Diaw (14 points, 4 assists) in the post, resulting in the Spurs' lead ballooning to 20 points late in the fourth quarter. By then, the game was fully out of reach for the Pacers, and the boo-birds were again chirping in the Indiana stands. Kawhi Leonard had another all-around night, finishing with 13 points, 11 rebounds and two three-pointers, all while playing stellar defense against All-Star forward Paul George (16 points, 5-13 FG). By the time the Spurs reserves were done feasting at the garbage time basket-buffet, San Antonio came away with the 103-77 victory.
Your Spurs have now won 18 games in a row and are 58-16 on the season. Next up is another important game on Wednesday against the Golden State Warriors, another playoff team that has been sliding recently.