D. Clarke Evans/NBA Photos
The San Antonio Spurs (15-4) fell to the league-leading Indiana Pacers (18-3) 111-100 in a disappointing showing at the AT&T Center on Saturday, Dec 7.
The Spurs started the game strong, outscoring the Pacers 28-20 in the first quarter, shooting 54 percent from the field while the Pacers shot a measly 38 percent.
But after the first quarter, the Spurs third ranked NBA defense struggled, allowing the Pacers to go on multiple runs throughout the second quarter, ultimately being outscored 32-20 in the second.
“Well, we just didn’t make stops the second and third quarter; they scored 32 in the second and 35 in the third,” said a clearly frustrated Spurs Head Coach Gregg Popovich after the game. “Against a team as good as Indiana you can’t allow those kinds of points, or you’re going to be in big trouble. They played very well and they executed offensively a whole lot better than we did defensively.”
“We had a good first quarter. The second quarter they started making some shots and we weren’t able to keep up. We went cold and they heated up,” added Tim Duncan after the game.
Duncan had 10 points, six rebounds and four assists against the Pacers while also becoming the 21st player to surpass the 24,000-career point mark on a frustrating yet historic night.
For the Spurs, the woes continued well into the third quarter as they were outscored 35-17 while shooting 40 percent from the field. The Pacers meanwhile shot a blazing 55 percent from the field while also shooting 56 percent from three.
Paul George led the way for the Pacers during this stretch, as he scored 20 of his 28 points in the third quarter.
Kawhi Leonard, who ended the night with 18 points, three assists, and three rebounds, had trouble-containing George the whole night.
“They just did a good job; Paul George got it going in the second quarter and the momentum moved into the third quarter,” said Leonard after the game. “He has gotten better since the last time we played him. Now they’re running the offense through him, he’s just doing a good job for them.”
The Spurs bench put together a string of runs in the fourth quarter cutting down the Pacer’s largest lead of 21 points to just 10. But the Spurs’ reserves couldn’t close the gap as Indiana finished the game strong.
“They were great. That’s the energy we needed all night and we didn’t sustain it for long enough,” Duncan said after the game, commenting on his teams bench play in the fourth quarter. “Those guys came in the game the right way and played hard.”
Spurs center Tiago Splitter left the game in the second quarter with tightness in his left calf, leaving the Spurs short up front for the rest of the game.
“We missed Tiago but they outplayed us. They got a good win and they earned it,” said a stern Popovich after the game.
The loss marks the end of the Pacers 11-game losing streak against the Spurs. The Spurs will look to rebound and start fresh against the Toronto Raptors (6-11) on Tuesday, Dec. 10 at the Air Canada Centre.