Bobcats fall victim to sharpshooting Spurs
CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — Charlotte Bobcats coach Mike Dunlap decided to pack the paint Saturday night and make the San Antonio Spurs beat them from the outside.
Danny Green and company did just that.
Green scored a season-high 23 points and the Spurs set a franchise record with 19 3-pointers to hand the Bobcats their seventh straight defeat, 132-102. Green was 7 of 9 from 3-point range and the Spurs shot 56 percent from behind the arc.
Tony Parker had 22 points and nine assists as the Spurs won for the ninth time in 10 games to push their record to 17-4.
Green and Parker were a combined 18 of 22 from the field.
“Tony was driving and the defense was collapsing on Timmy (Duncan), so there were a lot of open shots from the perimeter,” Green said. “We were driving and kicking and moving the ball. It makes the game a lot easier when you’re making shots. We haven’t been shooting the ball as well lately from the outside so I don’t blame them for trying to do that.”
Dunlap said he decided to focus on the inside after the Spurs scored 60 points in the paint against the Houston Rockets.
The strategy backfired.
“We’ve been really good about moving the ball and we’re really getting on the same page with that,” said Duncan, who finished with 11 points. “When our guys get open shots they knock them down. So if they don’t want to concede them in the paint, we will hurt them on the outside.”
Parker scored 11 points in the third quarter and Green had eight as the Spurs pulled away and were never challenged after that point.
Manu Ginobili chipped in with 11 points and seven assists for the Spurs.
Kemba Walker led the Bobcats with 23 points and Gerald Henderson chipped in with 13.
It was San Antonio’s first game with Joey Crawford officiating since a Halloween photo emerged earlier this week on the internet showing Duncan and Parker holding fake guns to the head of a bald man dressed up as Crawford.
Duncan said the captain’s meeting before the game was normal as he shook Crawford’s hand and said they “moved on” from there.
“I will never reference it with him,” Duncan said. “It’s not a situation that I ever expected would get out or never expected anybody to make a big deal out of, so I’m not going to.”
Duncan and Crawford have had a confrontational past but there were no incidents Saturday night.
Duncan only played 23 minutes and was called for one foul. Parker was not called for any fouls.
The Spurs opened a 59-44 lead at halftime after hitting 63 percent (12 of 19) from 3-point range. Green was a big part of that, hitting 5 of 6.
The game was tied at 20 when Ginobili entered the game and quickly buried three 3-pointers in between a 3 from Green to help the Spurs open a double-digit lead.
San Antonio continued to build on that advantage and wasn’t challenged again.
“We made a lot of 3s,” Spurs coach Gregg Poppovich said. “You know, we had a phenomenal night from the 3-point line. When an NBA team does that it makes it pretty tough on an opponent. It’s abnormal but it happened tonight so it made it tough on Charlotte.”
Frustrated by the team’s six-game losing streak, Dunlap benched center Brendan Haywood and Byron Mullens to start the game to send a message to his players.
Gana Diop and Bismack Biyombo started in their spots, leaving Charlotte without a true scoring presence in the frontcourt. Biyombo and Diop came in averaging a combined 4.8 points and, true to form, they combined for just four points on Saturday night.
“It was to let everybody know that there is some live chairs,” Dunlap said. “When you’re going through this process it’s important to live to the standard of how you want guys to play, and for us that’s (playing) extremely hard.”
The Bobcats have lost seven straight after a 7-5 start and their schedule isn’t going to get any easier next week as they host Golden State and the Los Angeles Clippers before traveling to Atlanta.
Dunlap said he’ll use the loss as a learning experience.
“We can take clips from this game in terms of where the Spurs are at. They have their core players and four championship rings,” Dunlap said. “Their coach has been there for longer than most of us can recall, so their culture is already set whether that’s hitting quality shots or how they selected their team. Their core is intact so there is modeling there that we can use.”
NOTES: Charlotte received a scare in the second quarter when rookie Michael Kidd-Gilchrist injured his tailbone. But he returned to the game in the third quarter after receiving treatment in the training room. … Duncan had a season-low two rebounds, but then again the Spurs didn’t miss much in the time he was in.