Story of two halves ends well for Spurs — except for ‘Danny Green leaves in a boot’ part
The Spurs’ winning streak reached 15 games on Wednesday night, yet somehow that’s not the memorable part of their 108-103 victory over the severely shorthanded Nuggets. Then again, that’s what a blown 24-point lead, 15 second-half turnovers and Danny Green leaving the locker room in a walking boot will do for you.
The scorching-hot Green hit five 3-pointers in the first half of what appeared to be a developing blowout, but he never made it on the court for the start of the third quarter.
“All the sudden he couldn’t walk,” Gregg Popovich said after the game.
I’m no doctor, but that seems like a problem. He returned for a minute or two late in the third, but the pain forced him out of the game.
Pop said an X-Ray will take place, and he did throw out the term ‘plantar fasciitis’ before restating that he did not know exactly what had occurred. Green said whatever the injury was, it did not occur against Denver. He mentioned it started hurting after the Golden State game on Saturday.
He will be evaluated on Thursday.
The Nuggets were another problem altogether. San Antonio’s 20-point lead at halftime was reduced to just four with 3:30 remaining in the game, 21 turnovers being the main culprit. Whatever the Spurs had been doing over the first 24 minutes, when they scored 63 points on 57 percent shooting and dropped 19 dimes, didn’t exactly hold steady.
Not only did they cough the ball up 15 times in the second half, they shot 41.3 percent from the floor, dished out only 11 assists, missed all six of their 3-pointers and went 7-of-12 from the line.
Somehow they survived; without Tim Duncan, they wouldn’t have.
The big man became the second-oldest player ever to post at least 29 points, 13 rebounds, five assists, two steals and two blocks (his line on Wednesday) in a game in NBA history. The other guy: Karl Malone. It was the 11th time Duncan’s put up those numbers in a game during his historic career.
“Probably nobody noticed, but his assists, boards, scoring—he was the guy that kept it together,” Popovich said of Duncan. “Kawhi (Leonard) made a couple of great plays down the stretch, but Tim was the guy that was the solid one for us tonight.”
The last of Leonard’s three blocks—he also had three steals—came with 1:18 remaining, when he caught Randy Foye’s shot from behind on the baseline that would’ve cut the lead to four points. Instead, the ball bounced right to Boris Diaw, and the game bounced to the Spurs.
Duncan scored 11 straight points for San Antonio late in the fourth to effectively put the game away, but things turned interesting for this team in the final minutes for what feels like the first time in ages.
“We played a good half; we played a bad half. The NBA is a 48-minute game and you’ve got to keep playing,” Pop said, summing the evening up perfectly.
Despite all the second-half chicanery, San Antonio still managed to hit 48.9 percent of its shots, including 40 percent from three, and drop 30 assists on top of it all. It was a weird night that produced yet another win notched on the belt. The Spurs remain three games ahead of the Thunder in the loss column for best record in the NBA, but this easy stretch of cupcake opponents is nearing its end. Pretty soon, things will change, so these wins are important.
“They got back in the game, but it happens,” mentioned Tony Parker, who did not have a good night. “We are not going to beat everybody by 20.”
Indeed, this is true, though it couldn’t have been much uglier after halftime; and the Nuggets loom again on Friday, this time in Denver. Whether Green is back in time for that one remains to be seen, but if it’s any consolation, he seemed to be in pretty good spirits at the end of the night and said he felt there was a good chance he’d be ready for Friday.
An evaluation awaits on Thursday, so we’ll know more about it then. For now, the lasting image from the AT&T Center was a weird and ugly second half that left the Spurs holding on to their franchise’s record-setting win streak by the skin of their teeth.
Well, that, and the clunky boot on Green’s right foot.