Spurs stay hot, cool off Celtics
Manu Ginobili scored 28 points, and Richard Jefferson had 16 points and 11 rebounds to lead the San Antonio Spurs to a 94-73 victory over the Boston Celtics on Sunday night.
The Spurs beat the Cleveland Cavaliers and Celtics in consecutive games, and next go to New Jersey to play the nine-win Nets on Monday.
Tim Duncan had eight points and nine rebounds, and DeJuan Blair added seven points and 11 boards for the Spurs, who have won 12 of 16 to move into a three-way tie with Portland and Oklahoma City for sixth place in the Western Conference.
Paul Pierce scored 18 points, and Kevin Garnett had 12 points and 10 rebounds for Boston. It was the Celtics' lowest point total of the season, their worst home loss of the year and their third loss by 20 or more since Feb. 25.
Boston had won six of its past seven and seven of eight at home, apparently reversing a season-long slide that led to concerns the 2008 NBA champions had aged quickly. The Celtics trailed just 44-43 at midgame, but the Spurs scored the first 12 points of the second half and led by as many as 17 in the third quarter.
With seven minutes left in the game, the home crowd was booing the Celtics -- an unusually common occurrence lately -- and with five minutes left, the building was mostly empty. Celtics coach Doc Rivers emptied his bench with four minutes to play, and so did San Antonio's Gregg Popovich.
Since moving into the starting lineup to replace Tony Parker, who missed his 12th straight game with a broken hand, Ginobili has averaged 24 points. He had 16 points at the half and eight more in the third quarter, when he hit a running, one-handed, 25-foot bank shot at the buzzer to give the Spurs a 77-60 lead.
The game got rough at times -- at least for the Celtics.
Garnett hit the floor hard after Ginobili blocked his shot in the second quarter. The Celtics forward landed on his back, but he soon got up and held his fingers to his ears to encourage the crowd to cheer.
In the third, Pierce went to the floor after he was fouled driving the lane. He stayed down for a while before getting up and rubbing his right shoulder while wincing in pain.
He was able to shoot the free throws, but he missed the first, and a minute later he was on the bench talking to the medical staff again.
NOTES: It was Michael Finley's first game against the Spurs since they released him on March 1, allowing him to sign with Boston. He was scoreless. ... San Antonio's next loss will tie its most in a season since going 53-29 in 1999-2000, its worst season since drafting Duncan in 1997. ... The Celtics and Spurs are now 38-38 in their all-time series, 19-19 in Boston. ... San Antonio's only losses in March were to Cleveland, Atlanta, Orlando and the Los Angeles Lakers. ... It was Garnett's third consecutive double-double. ... Rajon Rondo made a highlight-reel cut through Duncan and Matt Bonner in the first quarter for a layup.