Monday was an odd night in Philadelphia. The visiting San Antonio Spurs had a lead of 17 points at once in the first 24 minutes and were shooting 50% on the road. The home team, the 76ers, looked like they were going to get blown out of their own building.
Then the teams switched identities in second half. The Spurs were outscored in the third quarter and Philadelphia came out with an 18-4 run to start the fourth and eventually go ahead 82-77, but then Tim Duncan (24 points, 17 rebounds), Tony Parker (20 points, 8 assists), Kawhi Leonard (16 points, 7 rebounds, 2 steals), Tiago Splitter (10 points, 12 rebounds) and the Spurs would make a late three-minute comeback with a 15-3 run to win the game 90-85.
Here’s the rundown of what could be called a “weird” night in Philadelphia.
First quarter: Spurs 25, 76ers 17
Stay out of the paint – In the first quarter, the Spurs controlled the paint on defense as they held the 76ers to 17 points, and only allowed them to make 7-of-25 shots (mostly all were jump shots.) Parker and Duncan each tallied eight points as the Spurs shot a high percentage (52%) mainly by using the pick-and-roll to find teammates for open layups (7 assists on 11 made field goals).
Second quarter: Spurs 49, 76ers 35
A 9-0 run – Midway through the second, the Spurs went on a 9-0 run that boosted their lead to 17 points. The Sixers would respond to go into the half down 14 points.
Splitter’s open – Along with Duncan and Parker scoring in double-figures in the first half, Splitter was a bright spot in the second as he collected 10 points mainly by receiving open passes by setting a pick or beating the defense to his spot on the floor.
Continued defense – In the second, the Spurs held the Sixers to just 18 points, forced Philly into seven turnovers, and were holding them to 35% shooting. The Spurs looked like they were daring the 76ers to shoot outside jumpers and the Sixers continued to shoot and miss a majority of those looks.
Third quarter: Spurs 71, 76ers 64
Sixers’ 14-4 run – The 76ers came out of the half with a much more energetic attitude as the team went on a 14-4 run out of the gate to cut the Spurs’ lead down to four points. The Spurs would respond with their own 8-0 run to get the lead back up to 12 points, but overall the 76ers used their transition ability to outscore the Spurs 29-22 in the third.
Fourth quarter: Spurs 90, 76ers 85
18-4 start for Philly – As if the momentum couldn’t continue to go Philadelphia’s way from the third quarter, the Sixers began the fourth quarter with a strong 18-4 run where the Spurs just went cold and couldn’t hit a basket whether contested or open. The Spurs found themselves down 82-75 after a Nick Young (12 points) jumper, but then came Leonard.
Kawhi by himself, then injured - With the 76ers looking like they were about to take a commanding lead of being up seven points, Leonard got a steal in the open court and dunked it on the other end. The Spurs would force the 76ers to miss a shot and Leonard would make a 3-pointer from the corner to begin his own 5-0 run and tie the game.
After though, Leonard would go to the bench in the final three minutes as he looked like his left leg (knee area) was giving him some trouble. He had a beige bandage and was able to walk, but never returned to the game.
The Final Run – What Leonard had started as a 5-0 run, Duncan, Parker, and the rest of the Spurs who played in the final three minutes took from his momentum as the Spurs made the defensive stops they needed and scored on the other end to put the 76ers away with a 15-3 run to end the game.
With the win, the Spurs improve to 33-11 on the season and 15-9 on the road. They also move to 15-1 against teams like Philadelphia below .500, though Philly played as the exception in the second half. The team once again has another 5-game winning streak this season.
Hornets in San Antonio – The Spurs will have a chance to take the series lead against the New Orleans Hornets on Wednesday as the Hornets defeated the Spurs early in the month in New Orleans. The Hornets will be visiting the AT&T Center, though Anthony Davis might be questionable to play after hurting his ankle over the weekend.
Return of the turnovers – The turnover woes returned to the Spurs on Monday, especially in the second half as the team turned the ball over 14 times in the game. Granted their season average is 15, but the game before against Atlanta they had only turned the ball over nine times.
Green is cold, again – Danny Green went 0-of-5 from beyond the arc on Monday, but the Spurs as an entire unit struggled as a whole as the team shot 3-of-18 from distance. In his last 10 games, Green is 17-of-47 from beyond the arc.
Get well soon Manu – The Spurs’ bench was in need of a spark on Monday as the team was outscored 33-14 in bench points.