It wasn't exactly the type of performance that inspires confidence but the Spurs pulled off a gutsy win against the Phoenix Suns on Friday and that's all that matters.
The Spurs started the game playing well. The defense was suffocating and the offense displayed the type of ball movement that made it impossible to stop a season ago. Tim Duncan led the charge early, as the Spurs pulled away in the first quarter. The Suns made a push in the second period but timely three-pointers from Danny Green and a good stretch by Tony Parker kept them at bay San Antonio took a six-point lead to the break, 49-43.
As it has been the case lately, a third quarter collapse ensued. The starting lineup sleepwalked for several minutes, as the Suns used their physicality on defense to force turnovers. The Suns were able to push the pace, tallying 10 fastbreak points to the Spurs' zero. P.J. Tucker was huge on that stretch, going 6-7 from the floor on the third quarter, as a lethargic Spurs team saw their lead disappear and got down by as much as 12. The 10 points the Spurs scored in the third quarter were the worst mark they have posted this season. Phoenix led by 10 after three, 69-59.
Things were looking gloomy but Pop found a bench unit that brought the team back into the game by surrounding Jeff Ayres with shooters and slashers and relying on a zone defense to throw the Suns' offense out of rhythm. Just as the third quarter set a record for futility, the Spurs' 41 fourth-quarter points were the most they have scored in years in a single period. Cory Joseph was the catalyst and Danny Green and Patty Mills flanked him well, as San Antonio made an improbable comeback.
With the win the Spurs remain in seventh place in the West, standing at 22-15. Every victory is important without Kawhi Leonard and this one is extra valuable since it came against a direct rival. The Spurs will face the Minnesota Timberwolves on Saturday.
For the opponent's perspective, visit Bright Side of the Sun.