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Spurs extinguish Suns hot-shooting in second half, win 119-98

NBA: Phoenix Suns at San Antonio Spurs Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports

The Spurs won their ninth-straight game against the Suns and extended their current home winning-streak to six behind a great second-half defensive performance where they limited the Suns to just 34 points.

Kawhi Leonard missed his first game of the season suffering through a bout of gastroenteritis and the Spurs gave up a whopping 64 points and allowed the Suns to shoot 68% from the field in the first half of Wednesday night’s contest. Phoenix’s bench dropped in 43 of those 64. In one half. Against the third best defense in the league. What a weird start.

The first quarter was a tight affair even though the Suns turned the ball over eight times as Phoenix was unbelievable in their shooting, knocking down everything from everywhere when they managed to not give the ball away. The Suns finished with 27 points on 16 shots, shooting almost 70%. The Spurs weren’t exactly careful with the ball, turning it over six times, but they were active on the offensive boards and got seven more shots than Phoenix. SA scored 30 for the period.

The scoring continued at the end of the first with Jonathon Simmons being in the right place at the right time to beat the clock with a put-back. We should note his hustle to not just hang back and see what happened.

I was fully expecting the Suns’ shooting to regress in the second but not only did it not regress but they took care of the basketball, only turning it over two times in the quarter and they ended up scoring 37 on 21 shots.

At the half the Spurs trailed Phoenix 58-64 after going down by as many as 10 close to the end of the second quarter. A 9-2 run to start the third quarter put the Spurs back on top, 67-66, before Suns coach, Earl Watson, put the game on pause. Four more unanswered points for the Spurs made it a five-point San Antonio lead before Devin Booker hit a jumper to stop the bleeding for the Suns. After Phoenix’s outstanding first half it took almost six minutes for the Suns to score four points in the second half.

By the time the quarter was over the Spurs had outscored the Suns 31-18 and took a seven-point advantage into the final period. What a turnaround for the silver and black out of the locker room. Holding a team to under 100 after giving up 64 in the first 24 minutes isn’t something that happens often but to their credit the Spurs have been the second best team in the league in third quarters.

SA is sporting a +14.7 net-rating in the third quarter, their best quarter by far (8.1 in the first, 4.3 in the second and 6.1 in the fourth.)

The good guys took care of business in the fourth, hanging 30 on the visitors and limiting Phoenix to just 16. In the end the game outcome was about what you’d expect from these two teams.

Your Spurs improve to 26-6 and are back on pace for another 67-win season. With a favorable upcoming schedule they should be able to stay on the heels of the Warriors in the battle for homecourt come playoff time.

Quick Notes:

  • Tony Parker had a nice night. The Wee Frenchman matched his season-high of 20 points on 63% from the floor.
  • For the second time this season Manu Ginobili dunked! And that wasn’t it for the Spurs legend. He filled up the box with a 12-5-3-2-3 to go with zero turnovers. The wily Argentine is still a true joy to watch play the game. He was all over the place in his 19 minutes on the floor.
  • LaMarcus Aldridge has been on fire the past two games, hitting 25 of his 32 attempts and scoring 60 points. To go with his 27 (on 10-of-12 from the field and 9-for-9 to start) in this one he grabbed eight boards, notched two assists and added a steal and a block. That shooting is obviously unsustainable but let’s hope it’s the start of a more confident and ready-to-let-it-fly LA. He was also better from the foul line on Wednesday (7-for-9) after hitting just three of his six on Christmas day.
  • Pau Gasol went 6-for-12 from the field, finishing with 16 points and tied for a game-high plus-22 with Danny Green. After a slow start (11 points and seven boards over his first 18 games as a Spur) the big man is averaging almost 15 points and 10 rebounds per game over his last 12.
  • I tell you what, watching David Lee so far this season has been great. His effort on both ends has been very impressive and he’s been a spark for the team in his limited role. He finished with 12 points (one of six Spurs in double-figures,) three boards and two assists. Do yourself a favor and watch his six buckets on just seven attempts. Over his last ten games he’s shooting over 60% from the floor.
  • The Spurs have now won 22 of the 22 games they have held a 10+ point lead.
  • The Spurs have held their opponent to 104 or less in 25 of their 32 games this season.
  • With back-to-back 119-point performances the Spurs leapfrogged the Clippers to fifth in offensive-rating at 109.8. They remain third in defensive-rating (101.5) and net-rating (8.3). It’s still impossible to know how good this team really is, or what their ceiling is, but they’re starting to gel and they sure are fun to watch.

Up Next:

The Spurs get another night off before they host the Portland Trail Blazers on Friday night. To say that Portland has been struggling lately would be a huge understatement. Going into Wednesday night’s game against the Kings the Blazers had lost 10 of their last 11 and six-straight.