Celts no problem for shorthanded Spurs
BOSTON — Forward Tim Duncan was missing three important teammates, but it didn’t stop him or the San Antonio Spurs on Wednesday night.
The seemingly ageless big man, who will actually be 38 in April, scored 23 of his 25 points in the second half, including eight straight for his team at one point in the fourth quarter, leading the Spurs to a 104-92 victory over the Boston Celtics in the final game for each team before the All-Star break.
San Antonio, winning for the fifth time in six games on this road trip, was without point guard Tony Parker (rested) and injured guard Manu Ginobili and forward Tiago Splitter.
Duncan did virtually nothing in the first half, scoring two points and grabbing six rebounds, but then dominated in the second half. He finished with nine rebounds.
Center/forward Marcus Diaw had 18 points and four assists; guard Marco Belinelli, one of several banged-up Spurs playing, had 16 points, 11 rebounds and eight assists; guard Patty Mills came off the bench with 16 points in 20 minutes. Guard Cory Joseph, starting for Parker, had 11 points, five assists and four rebounds.
The Spurs led by six and put the game away with a 13-1 fourth-quarter run.
The Celtics, who had won four of their last five coming in, got 16 points from point guard Rajon Rondo, while forward Kris Humphries came off the bench with 15 points and six rebounds and rookie forward Kelly Olynyk, also coming off the bench, had 15 points and 10 boards, his second straight double-double. Six Celtics finished in double figures.
Boston forward Jared Sullinger, who had six straight double-doubles entering the game, played sparingly after the midway point of the third quarter and finished with four points and seven rebounds.
Parker, Ginobili and Splitter are averaging a combined 37.9 points, 11.9 rebounds and 11.8 assists per game, and their absence gave the game a bit of a preseason feel. But one thing about the Spurs — those who play for Gregg Popovich play his system.
The Celtics missed 12 of their first 13 shots before Sullinger captured an airball and put the rebound in to cut the Spurs’ lead to 13-4. Then, the Celtics, down 11 in the final minute of the first quarter, scored the last five points of that quarter and the first seven of the second to go ahead for the first time.
The Spurs led by four at the break and by five at the end of the third quarter.Notes: Celtics rookie coach Brad Stevens on the Spurs missing players: “They just plug people in and those guys play really well. It’s really fun to watch as a coach.” ... The Spurs signed G Shannon Brown to a second 10-day contract. ... The Celtics were again missing G Avery Bradley (ankle) and C Vitor Faverani (knee), but F Brandon Bass played despite a corneal abrasion suffered Monday night.