Kawhi Leonard had 22 points and the San Antonio Spurs never trailed Friday night, holding off the Boston Celtics 101-89 after getting a late scare.
Tony Parker had 15 points and seven rebounds, and Tiago Splitter added 18 points for San Antonio, which has won seven straight over Boston.
After trailing by as many as 25 in the second half, the Celtics went on a 16-0 run late in the fourth quarter to pull to 91-84 on Tyler Zeller’s bank shot. The spurt prompted San Antonio coach Gregg Popovich to bring Parker and Leonard back into the game after both sat for more than 10 minutes.
Parker settled the Spurs, guiding them to a 10-2 run that allowed the point guard and Leonard to exit for good with a minute remaining and a 102-87 lead.
The Celtics (30-38) remained eighth in the Eastern Conference following Indiana’s loss to Cleveland. Boston guard Marcus Smart was ejected after being assessed a flagrant foul 2 for delivering an uppercut to Matt Bonner’s groin with 9 minutes remaining.
Evan Turner had 17 points and Avery Bradley added 16 for Boston.
The late struggles were a problem, but Tim Duncan made sure the Spurs got off to a good start in their first home game since an embarrassing loss to the New York Knicks on Tuesday.
The 18-year veteran hit the floor twice in the first 3 minutes, collecting two steals with his hustle. The second steal led to his running, two-handed dunk off a feed from Splitter that gave San Antonio a 10-2 lead and led to Boston’s first timeout.
Boston coach Brad Stevens praised San Antonio’s ball movement before the game, and the Spurs demonstrated why. San Antonio finished with 31 assists, including 19 on its 21 first-half baskets.