Spurs Off To Best Start In Their History
Monday, November 26th 2007, 7:31 am
By: News On 6
SEATTLE (AP) _ Tim Duncan and the defending champion Spurs broke out of an early game funk with playoff-like precision. After allowing 64 points and settling for a halftime tie with a young Seattle team nowhere near its elite class, San Antonio scored the first 12 points of the third quarter and went on to a 116-101 win over the SuperSonics on Sunday night.
Duncan had 26 points for San Antonio, which is off to its best start in team history.
``Well, we had to work hard for that one,'' Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said. ``When they scored 64 points in that first half, we weren't used to that. I think the guys wanted to come out and play a little better defense.''
The Spurs are too accomplished, too proven to go into halftime tirades over that embarrassing first half, in which Sonics reserve Wally Szczerbiak scored 22 of his 27 points _ with a Seattle season-high 20 in the second period.
``We didn't say anything,'' Duncan said. ``We understand what it takes to win a game.''
In other NBA games, it was: Toronto 93, Chicago 78; Utah 103, Detroit 93; Cleveland 111, Indiana 106 and New Jersey 102, L.A. Lakers 100.
That championship experience is part of why the Spurs (12-2) are one game better than last season, when they finished with their fourth NBA title in nine seasons.
``It's about taking steps to improve, because everybody knows we are going to the playoffs,'' said Manu Ginobili, who joined Tony Parker with 22 points. ``So it's about in April being in as good a shape as possible.''
Kevin Durant ended a shooting slump with 25 points on 11-for-15 shooting for the Sonics, who matched their worst start since their inaugural season of 1967-68. They are 0-6 at KeyArena, their worst home start ever.
``I'm learning every game,'' Durant said.
What's left of their fan base isn't seeing much more than Durant maturing and the Sonics folding late in games before an intended move to Oklahoma City for next season.
Seattle's one surge came when Delonte West made a 3-pointer and Nick Collison drove under Duncan for a reverse layup to cut San Antonio's lead to 101-97 with 5:11 left.
But then West turned the ball over and missed a 3 and Chris Wilcox missed a dunk. Parker, meanwhile, made consecutive baskets _ the second a fadeaway pushing off one leg _ and two free throws to put the Spurs up 107-99.
``We've got to stick with guys and let them play through their mistakes and get better at it, because a lot of guys aren't used to having the ball in the fourth quarter,'' Szczerbiak said.
Seattle coach P.J. Carlesimo had a mostly warm reunion with the team he was an assistant for the previous five seasons, including dinner with Popovich on Saturday night and a pregame hug Sunday.
Cavaliers 111, Pacers 106
At Indianapolis, LeBron James had his fourth triple-double of the season.
The league's leading scorer finished with 30 points, 11 rebounds and 10 assists. It was the 14th triple-double of his career.
Drew Gooden had 23 points and 12 rebounds, and Sasha Pavlovic added 22 points and five assists for the Cavaliers.
Marquis Daniels scored 19 of his season-high 25 points in the second half for the Pacers.
Jazz 103, Pistons 93
At Auburn Hills, Mich., Carlos Boozer had 36 points and 11 rebounds, and Deron Williams added 21 points and 14 assists in Utah's fifth straight win over Detroit.
Detroit played without Rasheed Wallace (knee) for the second game in a row, then had coach Flip Saunders ejected after picking up a pair of technicals for arguing with official Marc Davis in the third quarter.
Antonio McDyess led the Pistons with 19 points and 12 rebounds, and Richard Hamilton added 17 despite fighting flu-like symptoms.
Raptors 93, Bulls 78
At Toronto, Chris Bosh had 16 points and 13 rebounds, rookie Jamario Moon matched his career high with 15 points and Toronto handed Chicago its fourth straight loss.
The energetic Moon added nine rebounds, six blocks and three steals in Sam Mitchell's 114th victory as Raptors coach, moving him past Lenny Wilkens for the most in team history.
Luol Deng scored 21 points in his return to Chicago's starting lineup after missing three games with a sore lower back.
Nets 102, Lakers 100
At Los Angeles, Jason Kidd had 15 points and 14 assists to help New Jersey overcome Kobe Bryant's 31 points.
Richard Jefferson had 27 points for the Nets, who have won three straight following a six-game losing streak.
Bryant, Kidd's teammate on the U.S. national team, made 15 straight free throws before missing a clutch foul shot with 6.1 seconds to go.