Brand new Spur Kevin Martin was active for the first time in San Antonio tonight, along with Tony Parker (who sat out last game with a toe contusion) and the rest of the team. Even Coach Pop was back on the sideline, returning after missing two games due to a family matter.
With the Bulls' Jimmy Butler still being out, Kawhi Leonard started the game defending Derrick Rose. Rose missed four of his first five shots on Kawhi-Island, and the Spurs jumped out to a 17-11 lead, with Kawhi accounting for nine of those 17 on 4-of-4 shooting.
Chicago came out of a time out hitting four shots in a row, and eventually tied the game at the end of the quarter just as Kevin Martin made his Spurs debut, and it was even at 27 after one. Kawhi lead all scorers with 11 points on 5-of-6 shooting. The difference in the first was free throws: The Bulls were 7-of-7, while the Spurs didn't have a single attempt from the line.
A 9-1 run sine Kawhi sat in the opening quarter leaked into the second, and the Bulls took a three point lead. Leonard checked back in and immediately knocked down a triple and the Spurs regained and built back up their lead to eight. Kawhi grew cold to end the half, but the Spurs still had a seven point lead heading into the break, 54-47. This quarter, the Spurs shot six free throws to the Bulls' none. San Antonio had 18 assists on 24 makes in the first half with only three turnovers. Parker had nine of those assists.
After SA extended their lead to 12 in the opening minutes of the third, Chicago went on a 15-4 run and came within one. Rose got himself going a little bit, E'Twaun Moore continued hitting from deep, and the Bulls' defense locked down. The Spurs answered with a quick 7-0 run capped off by a Kawhi transition three and Chicago called a time-out.
Pau Gasol got himself going in the third as well, but every time the Bulls made a run, the Spurs answered. SA put up 30 points in the quarter and had an 84-74 lead heading into the fourth. Leonard had 24 points on just 13 shots through three, while LaMarcus had 20 of his own.
Yet again, the Bulls made a run and the lead was cut to three with still eight minutes left to play. The Spurs starters didn't lost their composure though, something they rarely, if ever, do. They maintained the lead and regained control of the game and soon enough the advantage was back up to a dozen. I mean, the game was essentially over when Danny Green did this out of nowhere:
Parker played a brilliant game, one of the quietest 20 point/12 assist games you'll ever see, slicing through the lane getting layups and finding open shooters, with Kawhi and LaMarcus helping him handle the scoring load. Those three combined for 75 points, Leonard leading the charge with 29 on just 15 shots. San Antonio also had 29 assists with only eight turnovers.
Spurs win, improve to 55 and 10, and stay perfect at the AT&T Center.