Seemingly everything went right for the Spurs Wednesday night. To start, at least.
Kawhi Leonard finished with 16 points in the first half, Manu Ginobili canned a pair of triples, Tony Parker hit a couple jumpers and the visiting Boston Celtics were without everyday point guard Isaiah Thomas.
But because Boston’s Avery Bradley carried the Celtics with 16 first-half points and Boston hit a flurry of 3-pointers and came back in the third frame, it wasn’t until the fourth quarter when San Antonio finally grabbed a comfortable lead. Parker got it going late, and the Spurs ran away in the fourth quarter on their way to a 108-101 win at home.
The offense was flowing for San Antonio for much of the night — even with Lamarcus Aldridge sitting out to rest — as six Spurs finished in double figures. Leonard totaled 26, Gasol posted 17 points to go along with 13 rebounds, Parker logged 16, and Patty Mills, Ginobili and Dewayne Dedmon came off the bench for 10, 12 and 10 points, respectively.
San Antonio also dished out 33 assists on 44 shots, a welcome addition for head coach Gregg Popovich and Co.
Things began fairly evenly, if only for the first few minutes. Parker connected on a 19-footer for a 6-5 lead, but Gasol hit one of his own minutes later to trim the Spurs’ deficit to 13-12. Neither team was able to pull away until Ginobili drained two straight 3s for a 30-21 lead late in the frame, and San Antonio led 32-23 after the first quarter.
The Spurs’ first basket of the second came via Dedmon. Mills canned a triple later for a 36-27 lead, but the Celtics took a 43-42 advantage when Jae Crowder converted on an and-one. The Spurs got 3s from Leonard and Mills, though, to pull back ahead 52-45.
San Antonio brought a 56-47 lead into the intermission.
But after Leonard scored to balloon the Spurs’ lead to 70-55, the Celtics staged their incensed comeback. They first clawed to within single digits on two Al Horford free throws, and he and Crowder later canned triples to trim the deficit to 74-71. The Spurs’ lead was just 74-73 when Bradley hit a free throw.
Gasol splashed a corner 3 to hold the Celtics at a 77-73, arm’s length lead after three.
The fourth quarter saw largely the same results: a reasonable Spurs lead, then a quick Boston comeback to keep things interesting. But Parker was the star: not only did he connect on open jumpers, but the vintage Parker made a cameo on a couple twisting layups in the lane. Ten of his points came in the final frame.
The Celtics came as close as seven in the fourth, but Leonard connected on a challenged floater in the final two minutes to put things out of reach.
San Antonio’s bench was instrumental in Wednesday’s win: Dedmon, Mills and Ginobili combined to score 32. Dedmon was the beneficiary of three alley-oops on the night, including this monster slam via Davis Bertans in the fourth:
In the way of highlights, Leonard somehow got this acrobatic, rushed layup to stay down in the first frame:
But the Spurs struggled to contain Bradley, who with 25 points on three triples, was emblematic of the way Celtics began their many comebacks: via the long ball. The problem for Boston, though, was that the Spurs forced the Celtics into 31 attempts to connect on the 10 they did.
Now at 20-5 overall, San Antonio returns to action Thursday at Phoenix.