With a 99.8 percent chance of clinching home-court advantage over their final three games, and Tim Duncan and Manu Ginobili both chilling out in street clothes, the Spurs (62-18) didn’t have a whole lot to play for Friday against Phoenix. And it showed as they slept-walked through the first quarter en route to an early 21-point deficit. Even coach Gregg Popovich didn’t seem overly interested in the outcome, neglecting to call a timeout as the Suns pounded them with a 28-5 surge. But the Suns (47-32) — who played without leading scorer Goran Dragic as they battle for one of the last two playoff berths in the Western Conference — could only keep up their hot shooting for so long. The Spurs climbed back within striking range in the second quarter, then overpowered them with a 37-19 third. It was nip-tuck from there before the Spurs, powered by a career-high 33 points from Danny Green, finally put them away with a string of critical 3-pointers down the stretch. Player of the game There is no such thing as a heat check with the Spurs. Having already pushed his scoring total to 30 late in the third quarter, Green rose up for a questionable 3. He missed, prompting a rather heated inquiry from Popovich as to what, exactly, he was thinking. It was one of the few mistakes Green, who knocked down 12 for 17 shots in 38 minutes. Defense was an issue as Eric Bledsoe and cousin Gerald Green went for 30 and 27, respectively. Otherwise, it was Green’s best game in a Spurs uniform. Or any uniform, for that matter. The turning point The Spurs didn’t finally clinch victory until Kawhi Leonard, Marco Belinelli and Green hit critical 3s in a span of five possessions down the stretch comprising a 9-2 run. But wouldn’t have been in that position without a dominant third quarter, making 16 of 26 shots en route to their seventh-highest individual frame of the season. Tony Parker, playing his first game since missing the past two with a strained ligament in his back, led the way with 14 points in the quarter, and Green added 11.
Spurs 112, Phoenix 104: Best in the NBA…for now
San Antonio Express-News | Apr 12