Thursday, December 15, 2016

Spurs 108 - Celtics 101: C's no match for San Antonio, lose third straight

Brad Stevens has never beaten the Spurs in his professional coaching career, he entered Wednesday night with a 0-7 record against the Spurs and left San Antonio with another loss against veteran coach Gregg Popovich.

Kawhi Leonard and Tony Parker didn't disappoint the home crowd at the AT&T Center as the Spurs beat the Celtics for an eighth straight time in Stevens' tenure, 108-101.

Parker finished with 16 points [10 in the final frame], 7 assists, while Kawhi Leonard led all scorers with 26 points and 6 assists for San Antonio who are now 20-5 on the season.

The Spurs, who were playing without LaMarcus Aldridge, shot 55-percent from the field. Pau Gasol recorded a double-double of 17 points, 13 rebounds and the savvy vet; Manu Ginobili chipped in 12 points and 4 assists off the bench.

Avery Bradley led the way with 25 points, 10 rebounds and 6 assists for Boston, who were losers of two straight coming in to San Antonio. Jae Crowder chipped in 15 points and grabbed 6 rebounds while Al Horford added 13 points, 5 rebounds. Terry Rozier led the bench with 12 points in 25 minutes.

The Celtics started off the night with an early lead, but a couple of big runs by both teams in the first half, combined with a one point Boston lead, led to a 14-4 run by the Spurs and they were up 56-47 at halftime.

Boston would go on an 18-4 run in the final minute of the third quarter to get within one point (74-73), but that was the closest the Celtics got to regaining their lead as they played catch-up the entire fourth period and suffered their third-straight loss, fourth of their last five. Celtics are now 13-12 on the season.
"Tony [Parker] made it a point that he wanted to finish the game out," said Avery Bradley. "You could see it in his eyes, you could see it in his play. Every time he got the ball he was aggressive. He was either making a play for himself or making a play for his teammates."
San Antonio finished with 33 assists on 44 made baskets for the night.

Celtics are now 0-7 seven against teams with a .600 winning percentage or higher this season and 3-7 against Western Conference teams. Overall, the C's only have two wins against opponents with over a .500 record.

Next up, Boston will host the Charlotte Hornets [13-12] at the TD Garden on Friday night.

Game Notes:

Isaiah Thomas missed his fourth straight game with a groin injury, where the Celtics are now 1-3 in his absence. The All-Star guard could make his return on Friday. Marcus Smart made his ninth start of the season, fourth consecutive as the team's point guard. Throughout that span, the C's are 4-5 when Smart is in the starting lineup.

Joel Pavón

Photo used is courtesy of Associated Press

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