The San Antonio Spurs never cease to amaze with their ability to play without key players and look as good as ever, beating the Phoenix Suns 112-104 and clinching the best record in the NBA for good in the 2013-14 regular season, despite their early struggles in the game.
No Tim Duncan and Manu Ginobili but with Tony Parker, back after two games with back problems keeping him out. The Spurs were down 35-14 at some point during their awful first quarter, but a 37-19 third quarter from the Spurs made it a tight game once again, and the Spurs overcame in the final minutes by hitting the 3-pointers the Suns couldn’t prevent, as Danny Green showed once more what happens when you leave him open.
A player with a very limited offensive repertoire, but deadly when left open to shoot three-pointers. Green finished with 33 points, having him another “NBA Finals moment”, including 7-of-10 from beyond the arc as the Spurs’ ball movement in the second half and especially their transition attacks kept leaving Suns defenders in the wrong spot, forcing 18 turnovers on Phoenix, once again finding themselves outside the playoff picture with three games left for them to play.
Eric Bledsoe scored 30 points and Gerald Green had 27, doing very well early on without Goran Dragic. Bledsoe was one assist shy of a triple double, Markieff Morris made another case for sixth man of the year with 20 points off the bench and Green pulled off another dunk that’s going to look very impressive on his highlight film to sum up the year. But the Spurs kept coming at them from unpredictable angles and directions, especially during the minutes Patty Mills spent on the floor.
Another strong performance from the Australian backup, scoring 9 points to go with 4 assists, but pushing the tempo and running the floor very well in another example of just how good the Spurs’ development system is, by far the best in the league. Tony Parker had 18 points and so did Kawhi Leonard. Marco Belinelli saved his best for the big moments once more (12 points) and Boris Diaw was excellent, scoring 11 points to go with 8 rebounds and 6 assists against his former team.
The Spurs are top of the West, and nothing can move them from it anymore. They have some matchup problems with the Thunder (lost four times to them) and the Houston Rockets, although the way Houston have been looking recently they shouldn’t be that worried. The most important thing is getting the weary and tired legs of Duncan and Ginobili, not forgetting a slightly younger Tony Parker, into the playoffs without too much recent mileage on them, hoping that they’re rested enough for a run like last year’s, only with a happier ending.