Spurs hold off Celtics to remain unbeaten at home
SAN ANTONIO (AP) -- The San Antonio Spurs relied on experience when little else seemed to work against the Boston Celtics.
Manu Ginobili had seven of his 15 points in the final quarter and added a key rebound in the final minute, enabling San Antonio to hold off Boston 108-105 on Saturday night to stay unbeaten at home this season.
"I think this game will help us get better because I thought they moved better without the ball," Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said. "They executed what they wanted to do better than we did. We just had an experienced group that executed some stuff down the stretch. It got us over."
The Celtics missed their last chance when Jae Crowder threw the ball out of bounds on an attempted full-court inbounds pass to Jared Sullinger.
Boston scored the most points by a Spurs' visitor this season and got within a basket twice in the final 10 seconds.
"We were able to execute our game plan and that was, be ready to shoot the ball when you get it," Celtics point guard Avery Bradley said. "That was for everybody, including the bigs. We knew this was going to be a jump-shooting game because Duncan was going to be in the key. I feel like we executed our game plan, we just fell short."
Bradley missed a 3-pointer with 8 seconds remaining and Boston trailing 104-102. After a pair of free throws by Danny Green, Jae Crowder made a 3-pointer with 2.7 seconds left to pull the Celtics to 106-105.
Kawhi Leonard added a pair of free throws prior to Crowder's turnover.
"The bottom line is we played really well and gave ourselves a chance to win," Boston coach Brad Stevens said. "But we have to be even better in our margin. I've been very careful in saying, `If we play well, we will have a chance to win.' And the reality is, we didn't."
LaMarcus Aldridge scored 17 points, but only three in the second half.
Boris Diaw had 16 points while Leonard and Ginobili each got 15 as the Spurs improved to 11-0 at home.
Isaiah Thomas had 23 points for the Celtics.
"They just played good and we were lucky enough in the end to execute and make some plays," Parker said.
San Antonio entered the game holding opponents to a league-low 88.5 points per game, but Bradley established a quick pace early that benefited Boston. The 6-foot-2 point guard made his first three shots as part of an 18-8 run to open the game.
"They scored a lot, give them credit," Diaw said. "They played really hard. They go at it every play, they're running, they set good screens. It's hard to keep up with them. They're really all over the place. They did a great job with that and that's why they hung in the game."
Bradley added 16 and Amir Johnson had 11 points and 11 rebounds for the Celtics.
Boston went on a 14-1 run beginning midway in the final quarter, leading the San Antonio fans to shout "De-fense!" in the closing minutes.
Celtics: Official Tom Washington mistakenly called Boston for an over-and-back violation with the Celtics rushing downcourt on a fastbreak following a Spurs turnover. Washington pointed at himself to signify he made the wrong call after the Celtics protested, but the whistle prevented them from a likely uncontested layup. ... Crowder entered the game averaging 2.3 steals per game, which is fourth best in the league. He had one steal against the Spurs.
Spurs: Leonard was serenaded with "MVP" chants for the first time this season by the home crowd while attempting free throws in the third quarter. ... The Spurs recalled G Ray McCallum from their Development League affiliate in Austin. McCallum had 12 points, four assists and three rebounds in his lone appearance Dec. 4. ... F Rasual Butler missed the game for "personal business."
Celtics: At New Orleans on Monday.
Spurs: At Philadelphia on Monday.
HOME SWEET HOME
San Antonio is off to its best start at home since 2007-2008, when they started 13-0.
The Spurs and Golden State are the league's only remaining unbeaten teams at home.
TO A POINT
The Celtics scored the second most points against the Spurs this season, trailing only San Antonio's loss in Oklahoma City during its season-opener. The Thunder won 112-106 on Oct. 28.
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