Spurs look to continue surge versus Phoenix (Dec 28, 2016)
The scary thing about San Antonio, a team that's won 25 of its first 31 games and seven of its past eight outings, is that the Spurs might just now be really finding its groove.
The Phoenix Suns will be the next team to try to find any chink in San Antonio's armor when the two teams play on Wednesday at the AT&T Center in San Antonio.
The Spurs (25-6) play the second game of a three-games-in-six-days homestand after beating Chicago 119-100 in a wild showdown on Christmas afternoon that was much closer than the score indicates.
San Antonio's LaMarcus Aldridge enjoyed his best game of the season, scoring 33 points -- 20 of them in the first quarter -- and hitting his first 11 shots from the floor as the Spurs built a 20-point lead. The Bulls roared back to take a short-lived 70-67 advantage midway through the third quarter but San Antonio burst away from a 71-71 tie via a 17-3 run and rolled to the win.
Afterward, Aldridge admitted that he has been challenged by Spurs' coach Gregg Popovich to call for the ball more, especially in the post, and to look for his shot.
"It was just one of those nights," said Aldridge, who had the Spurs' first eight points as San Antonio shot 82.4 percent from the floor in the first quarter. "My teammates were trying to find me and they were passing up open looks to do so, so that was awesome."
Aldridge finished with a season-high 15 made field goals and tied his season high with 20 attempts from the floor.
"When a player goes off like LaMarcus did (Sunday) it opens things up and creates an impact right away on the game," Spurs center/forward Pau Gasol said. "We just kept going at it and he kept making (shots), so that's great. We made more plays, we took better care of the ball in the second half, and we were able to take off."
Kawhi Leonard leads the Spurs by scoring an average of 24.4 points per game and Aldridge is second at 17.0 points per outing in 28 games.
Phoenix (9-22) heads to the Alamo City in the heels of a 131-115 loss at Houston on Monday. The Suns were led by Eric Bledsoe's 24 points while Brandon Knight added 21 off the bench. Phoenix, 26th in defensive rating entering Monday, allowed the Rockets to shoot 50 percent.
"It's tough when you're giving up everything -- threes, layups -- and it's really tough," Bledsoe said. "(Houston) had 20-something points in the first half on transition points, so I don't think we were really guarding anybody."
Bledsoe leads the team in scoring at 20.1 points per game while guard Devin Booker checks in at 19.2 points per game, forward T.J. Warren scores at a 15.6 per game pace and Knight is at 13.3 points per outing.
The Suns have lost five of their past six games, with the lone bright spot of late being a 123-116 win at home over Philadelphia in which Phoenix scored it most points of the season.
"Houston did a great job of attacking the paint and finishing at the rim," Suns coach Earl Watson said. "We did a better job in the third quarter in coming out fighting, playing."
The Spurs own an eight-game winning streak over Phoenix dating back to Halloween night of 2014. San Antonio beat the Suns 107-92 in Phoenix on Dec. 15, as five Spurs players scored in double figures.