Tthe Spurs continued their Rodeo Road trip with a win over Phoenix 118-111, completing the 4-0 season sweep and handing the Suns their 11th straight loss. San Antonio's 47-9 record is the most wins in franchise history through 56 games.
For the second straight game, the Spurs played a formerly competitive franchise that's currently struggling. Any playoff aspirations the Suns had for this season were destroyed by internal conflict, injuries, and mismanaged trades. Out of all active players, their six top scorers were ruled out of tonight's matchup, due to injuries or trades. The Spurs weren't exactly healthy either - Kawhi Leonard, Matt Bonner, and Manu Ginobili were all held out.
San Antonio started on an 8-0 run, behind a monster slam by Kyle Anderson, who made his third consecutive start, in which he's averaged 9 points, 3 assists, and 1.7 steals.
Despite allowing Phoenix to shoot 50%, the Spurs D tightened up, forcing seven turnovers. The first quarter ended with a beautiful trap screen, allowing David West to drain a wide-open jumper on the baseline.
In the second, Phil Pressey and Archie Goodwin frequently broke down the defense; mismatches abounded off screens, punishing undersized Spurs. Spurs held the shooting percentage advantage 52.3% to 44.4%, and the Spurs finished the half with a 10-point lead behind eight forced turnovers.
Phoenix cut the lead to one early in the second half and got 20 points in the paint in the third alone. Alex Len feasted from the low block and the midrange, exploiting the Spurs porous defense with a career high 23 points and 13 rebounds. However, San Antonio gained some momentum when Patty Mills drained one of his six 3-pointers to end the third quarter. The Spurs reserve now ranks fifth in the league this season with most 3-pointers off the bench.
Another big time THREEEE for Patty Thrills! pic.twitter.com/MTRoKMdYSD— San Antonio Spurs (@spurs) February 21, 2016
Without their normal lineup, check out how much the defense has struggled in the last 11 games:
In the absence of Timmy, and now Kawhi, Spurs d is struggling. pic.twitter.com/Gl6X8WCFcl— Kyle Spishock (@kyleelconqueror) February 21, 2016
Rasual Butler scored the opening six points for the Spurs in the fourth. The game was tied twice, but the Spurs answered whenever Phoenix attempted to take the lead. Danny Green slammed a Tarheel dunk following a missed Patty Mills triple, stopped on a dime for a step-back two on the following possession, and Mills finished the 7-0 run with a three.
Danny Green pic.twitter.com/OXS1BGBLRR— Mariachi Loco (@_ElMariachiLoco) February 22, 2016
Phoenix pushed the pace at the close of regulation, but couldn't pull off the upset. The Suns give up nearly 106.5 ppg (29th worst), and allowed San Antonio to shoot 52.4% from the field, but could only manage 46.2%.
Four Spurs finished in double figures. Tony Parker continued his competitive intensity displayed in his last several games with 22 points. Patty Mills has been consistent coming off the bench, scoring 21 points (6/9 3pm) and dishing five assists.
Spurs connection: Earl Watson became the 17th coach in Phoenix Suns franchise history earlier this month. Last season, Watson was an assistant coach for the Austin Spurs. After falling to 0-7 in his first games as Phoenix HC, he may be headed back to his old post in central Texas sooner rather than later.