Aldridge still starting slowly, but Spurs rout Nets for first win
SAN ANTONIO — Still trying to find a level of comfort after retooling their roster in the offseason, the San Antonio Spurs turned to what they know best.
San Antonio got big production from its Big Three, tenacious defense from everyone and used a fiery halftime rant from coach Gregg Popovich to get its first win of the season.
Kawhi Leonard had 16 points and Tim Duncan added 15 as the Spurs regrouped after a sluggish start to defeat the Brooklyn Nets 102-75 on Friday night.
”This is what they do, especially at home,” Brooklyn coach Lionel Hollins said. ”Sometimes they have slow starts then they go in the locker room, Pop jumps them and they come back out to play. That’s what good teams do.”
The Spurs opened a 9-3 lead as every starter but Leonard had a basket, beginning with a 12-foot turnaround jumper by LaMarcus Aldridge and capped by Danny Green’s 3-pointer.
The ball sharing came to an abrupt halt, though. San Antonio went almost exclusively to Leonard, who missed his first five shots. The Spurs would struggle to recapture that early ball movement, committing 10 turnovers in the first half.
Aldridge finished with 10 points, primarily on follows of missed shots as he continues to find his place in the Spurs’ offense after signing with the team in the offseason.
”Each game gets better,” Aldridge said. ”I think it’s a process for all of us how to use me. I need to find my spots. I have to be aggressive right now I’m just getting it offensive boards and that’s fine for now.”
The Nets took advantage of the Spurs’ struggles on both ends, charging to a 41-31 lead fueled by their reserves. Brooklyn’s bench shot 75 percent from the field in the first half.
San Antonio returned to its offense of last season to start the second half with Tony Parker scoring the Spurs’ first eight points on a series of drives.
”They just turned it up in the second half and we really just took a step back,” said Brooklyn center Brook Lopez, who scored 17 points.
Parker finished with 10 points and four assists and Manu Ginobili had 12 points and four assists.
”That group has played together,” Popovich said. ”We did a different rotation tonight than we did in Oklahoma City just to have a little more familiarization out there. It worked out pretty well.”
Leonard later slammed in a dunk off a lob from Duncan. Aldridge blocked an attempted hook by Lopez, which led to a 16-foot, step-back jumper by Leonard for a 63-58 lead.
With Aldridge watching from the bench for all but a few minutes, the Spurs opened an 84-70 lead.
Duncan, Parker and Ginobili tied Boston’s Larry Bird, Kevin McHale and Robert Parish for the most regular-season victories by a trio with 540 wins.
Parker was unable to attend the team’s morning shootaround due to heavy thunderstorms that flooded the road he normally takes out of his neighborhood. Parker was able to attend the game, however, as the flooding subsided enough for him to travel.
Popovich was asked before tipoff if it was important for the Spurs to win Friday night since it is their only home game among their first five.
”You bet,” Pop shouted enthusiastically, as well as sarcastically. ”This will probably be the most important game of the year. If we don’t get this one, I don’t know what will happen to our team. I better go look and figure it out.”
And with that, Popovich exited the media room stage left.
Nets: Jarrett Jack made his season debut after missing the opener Wednesday with a tight hamstring. Jack scored 12 points, shooting 5 of 12 from the field, and had seven assists. … Reserve Rondae Hollis-Jefferson had 10 points on 5-of-7 shooting.
Spurs: Veteran F Rasual Butler, who was the final player to make the team’s roster, had three points in 7 minutes. His lone basket came on a 3-pointer at the close of the first quarter off a cross-court feed from Ginobili. … All 13 Spurs played and scored. … Boban Marjanovic, the 7-foot-3 center from Serbia, has quickly become a fan favorite in his rookie season. The fans cheered when Marjanovic touched the ball, erupting as he scored six points in 5 minutes.
Nets: At Memphis on Saturday.
Spurs: At Boston on Sunday.