Leonard, Spurs win 6th in a row, 106-92 over Pacers
SAN ANTONIO (AP) — A physical matchup on both ends of the court brought out the best in the San Antonio Spurs, especially Kawhi Leonard.
Leonard had 24 points, six rebounds and five assists and helped hold Paul George to a season-low seven points, and San Antonio surged past Indiana for a 106-92 victory Monday night to remain undefeated at home.
“They imposed their will in the second half, like they do here,” Pacers coach Frank Vogel said. “We just couldn’t get over that hump. We kept hanging around, hanging around. (There was a) loose ball play that went their way or they make a 3 or just something that prevented us from getting over the hump.”
San Antonio (24-5) has won six straight and is off to the second best start in franchise history, including 16-0 at home.
The Spurs won their 21st game by double figures, turning a closely contested game into a rout in the second half.
Tony Parker had 15 points, including nine in the final quarter, for San Antonio. Boris Diaw added 14 points and LaMarcus Aldridge and Patty Mills had 10 each.
David West had seven points and five rebounds in his first game against the Pacers since leaving in the offseason to sign with the Spurs.
George Hill and Jordan Hill each had 15 points for Indiana (16-11).
Two of the league’s top defenses fought early. The Spurs lead the league in opponent scoring at 88.9 points and the Pacers are seventh at 92.7.
San Antonio had just six points in the first six minutes of the game, two fewer than Indiana.
Leonard and George had their own heated battle, with each trying to get the best of the other on both ends of the court.
“It’s fun matchup and I look at it like a game within a game,” George said.
George was held to 1-for-14 shooting. It was his worst career performance with that many shot attempts. His previous low was seven points on 12 field goal attempts.
“Lot of it was me,” George said. “I had a lot of good looks, lot of open looks, lot of shots I’ve made all season long. Just wasn’t my night, couldn’t get it to fall.”
With George bumping and hand checking him at the top of the key, Leonard drove to the lane and banked in an over-the-shoulder left-handed layup in traffic. George attempted to respond, but Tim Duncan blocked his driving layup on the ensuing possession.
“We played better defense in the second half,” San Antonio coach Gregg Popovich said. “And we had a better pace offensively. I thought we moved the ball a little bit better and it worked out.”
The back-to-back plays electrified the crowd and the Spurs, who scored nine of the next 11 points for a 70-62 lead. Leonard had five points, a rebound and a steal in the run.
“The second half was a lot better,” Parker said. “Felt like the first half was a little bit low energy. A little bit of a hangover from the last game, but in the second half we played a lot better. Offensively, the ball movement was great and defensively we created a lot of stuff after that.”
Parker was 4 for 6 in taking over in the fourth quarter, including a spin and two upfakes in the lane to evade George Hill and scoop in a layup.
Pacers: George Hill, who was with the Spurs from 2008-11, received a loud ovation during pregame introduction. Hill was traded to the Pacers for the rights to Leonard. ... George had two steals, giving him 512 for his career to tie Derrick McKey for eighth in franchise history. ... Indiana was shooting 38.6 percent from 3-point range, which is second best in the league. ... Rodney Stuckey has scored in double figures in seven straight games after posting 16 against the Spurs.
Spurs: San Antonio is off to the second-best start in franchise history, trailing only the 25-4 record in 2011. ... Texas men’s basketball coach Shaka Smart was in attendance, seated next to Spurs general manager R.C. Buford. ... Aldridge was a rebound shy of his 10th double-double of the season, which would have tied him with Duncan for most on the team this season.
WHO IS THAT
The Spurs had some good-natured fun at the expense of former teammate George Hill.
Hill bleached his hair blonde, which took his friends in San Antonio by surprise.
“I was watching the Pacers and we were in the locker room and I said, ‘Who’s No. 3’,” Spurs coach Manu Ginobili said. “That’s Georgie. What?! I was shocked, but now I’m getting used to it.”
Parker mentored Hill when he played with San Antonio, but he refused to take the blame for his pupil’s choice in hairstyles.
“I love George, he’s my little brother, but I don’t know about that haircut,” Parker said.
Hill did have one surprising admirer, Popovich.
The Spurs coach shouted “Georgie” in the fourth quarter and began stroking his own hair while giving Hill a starry gaze and saying, “Nice.” The white-haired Popovich said he wished he could pull off the same style.
“I love it,” Popovich said. “I wish I had the guts he has. That could really turn some heads.”
Pacers: host Sacramento on Wednesday night.
Spurs: at Minnesota on Wednesday night.