Recapping with the Celtics: Spurs extend winning streak despite poor second half

Whew, glad this one is over.

After witnessing the Spurs score nine points in the third quarter, including an abysmal 4-of-18 shooting, I couldn’t really stomach too much more.

I couldn’t blame you if you turned off the television.

But, in the grand scheme of things, the Spurs needed a win like this one. While the Spurs couldn’t muster anything of significance on the offensive side of the ball, they excelled, unusually, defensively.

Their 28-point second half, somehow, was good enough to pull away from a Celtics team that also couldn’t find the rim. After Paul Pierce clanked a fadeaway jumper over Tim Duncan, the Spurs had completed an impressive second half of defense — or possibly this just stemmed from the Celtics slightly more palatable offensive inefficiency. Boston finished the second half with 38 points off 14-of-36 shooting (38.9 percent), losing out on a good chance of increasing their win streak against the second-ranked offense in the NBA that, uncharacteristically, looked vaguely similar to that of the Toronto Raptors.

For once, it was the Celtics who totaled more assists and less turnovers than the Spurs. This was the fourth time all season that that has happened.

But, the Celtics left a lot of points on the board considering they missed seven free throws and, subsequently, gave up eight more offensive rebounds.

For an offense that chucked 28 3-pointers to no avail — actually, the Spurs did shoot 53.4 percent on 2-pointers — and stifled themselves with their lack of ball movement, those opportunities alleviated the qualms of inefficiency.

Apr 4, 2012; Boston, MA USA; San Antonio Spurs center Tim Duncan (21) drives the ball against Boston Celtics power forward Brandon Bass (30) in the first quarter at the TD Banknorth Garden. Mandatory Credit: David Butler II-US PRESSWIRE

Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili and Tony Parker combined for 25 points on 11-of-32 shooting and we still won. Six Spurs attempted a 3-pointer, but only three actually converted one. And we still won. In 17:36, Kawhi Leonard totaled zero points on 0-for-2 shooting, two assists and one rebound. And, again, we still won.

As a Spurs fan, I feel pretty good about the fact that in almost every facet of basketball, the Celtics had us beat. Not too mention that the Celtics were playing pretty good basketball prior to this game. The Avery Bradley, Rajon Rondo combination that I was focusing on played well. They combined for 36 points, 11 assists, five steals, four rebounds on 17-for-31 shooting.

Bradley, particularly, wasn’t afraid of guarding Manu 40-feet from the rim — which, usually, isn’t a good thing but Bradley is just that good of a defender — and his offense actually hurt the Spurs. I didn’t count specifically but he is adept at cutting off the ball right before Rondo gets into the teeth of the defense. If you are caught ball watching, Bradley takes advantage. And, given his defensive prowess, that’s all you really need to be successful in basketball.

Now that the Oklahoma City Thunder have dropped another game, the Spurs are tied in the loss column and only one game back of the No. 1 seed. Ugly wins like this one don’t count against us in the standings and, for that, I’m grateful.

Next time, we should try scoring the basketball with some regularity. That would be nice.

Game notes.
The Spurs shot 31-for-58 on 2-pointers … Boston went 34-for-73 (46.6 percent) on 2-pointers … The Spurs have beaten their opposition three times when they have posted less assists and more turnovers … This was the Spurs fifth straight game where they have grabbed more offensive rebounds than their opponent … The Spurs are 24th in offensive rebounding rate … Pierce, Garnett and Rondo all had double-doubles tonight … The Celtics dropped their ninth game all season when Rondo gets more than 10 assists … Boston’s five-game winning streak was snapped … Tim Duncan grabbed 15-plus rebounds for the sixth time all year … Danny Green has made one 3-pointer in four straight games … Matt Bonner’s crucial jumper, because of Manu’s improvisation, with 46.5 seconds in the fourth quarter put the Spurs up by four points, a lead they would never relinquish … Bonner scored 10 points on 4-of-9 shooting and grabbed 10 rebounds … It was Bonner’s first double-double of the entire season and his third in the last three years … James Anderson, Boris Diaw and Patrick Mills were healthy DNP’s … The Spurs play New Orleans tomorrow at 7:30 CST …

Topics: Avery Bradley, Boston Celtics, Danny Green, Kawhi Leonard, Kevin Garnett, Manu Ginobili, Matt Bonner, Paul Pierce, Rajon Rondo, San Antonio Spurs, Tim Duncan, Tony Parker

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