NBA News Wire
Spurs easily handle 76ers
SAN ANTONIO — San Antonio Spurs coach Gregg Popovich has been known to give Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili and Tony Parker a night off even against top opponents in an effort to keep them fresh for the long season.
With the Philadelphia 76ers, the NBA’s most ineffectual team in town Monday night, the Spurs coach didn’t hold any of the team’s Big Three out of the game; he just deployed them for fewer minutes than they normally play.
That hardly mattered. With neither Duncan, Ginobili nor Parker logging more than 18 minutes, the Spurs defeated Philadelphia 100-75 for their fourth victory in the last five games.
The 76ers, meanwhile, fell to 0-10.
Forward Matt Bonner, starting for the Spurs (6-4) because Tiago Splitter is injured, led the team with 18 points in 20 minutes. Bonner converted 4 of 6 3-point shots. The 18 points were the most he has scored since contributing 20 against Utah in 2012.
Bonner, 34, has gone through stretches during his nine seasons with the Spurs when he barely plays. But Splitter has missed all but one game this season, and Bonner has been called on to help fill the void.
“In my old age, it’s better to stay in shape by playing than having to run on the treadmill the next day,” Bonner said.
Bonner said his limited role induced him to become creative.
“I invented my own conditioning drill called the grinder,” said Bonner, adding that he could not explain what that entails.
“You just have to see it,” Bonner said. “It’s impossible to put into words.”
Cory Joseph, Parker’s backup at point guard, produced 14 points. Reserve forward Aron Baynes scored 12.
“Our bench played a lot of minutes — good experience for them,” Parker said.
Forward Kawhi Leonard, the Spurs’ young star, played 20 minutes and grabbed 11 rebounds.
Guard Michael Carter-Williams, last season’s NBA Rookie of the Year, led the Sixers with 16 points, three more than forward Luc Mbah a Moute.
Philadelphia is so young that its entire active roster has less combined experience than Duncan, who is in his 17th season.
The Sixers are woeful at both ends of the court, but their issues are particularly acute on offense, where they began the night ranked last in the NBA in shooting accuracy and 29th — one spot from the bottom — in scoring.
The game on Monday completed the 76ers’ tour of Texas for the season. Before moving on to San Antonio, they lost at Dallas on Thursday and Houston on Friday, the two defeats handed to them in completely different ways. Both, however, were painful.
Philadelphia lost by 123-70 at Dallas. The Mavericks scored more points in the first half — 73 — than the Sixers managed all night. Philadelphia shot a season-low 29.9 percent and committed a season-high 28 turnovers in that one.
The Sixers lost by one point at Houston when Rockets guard James Harden made a driving shot with nine seconds left. Philadelphia began the fourth quarter with a five-point lead.
Guard Tony Wroten said the blowout defeat at Dallas was more frustrating than the last-minute heartbreaker at Houston.
“Dallas for sure,” Wroten said. “That wasn’t us playing. We just got embarrassed. We gave up. We showed more of ourselves in the Houston game. We were right there.”
The Spurs seemed poised for an early dismissal of the 76ers when they took a 19-point lead with fewer than four minutes remaining in the first half.
But Philadelphia whittled the deficit, cutting it to nine with a 3-point basket by Mbah a Moute on its first possession of the second half.
But the Spurs pulled away again, Bonner leading the way with 13 points in the second half.
Bonner said he has to maintain a shooter’s mentality regardless of his circumstances.
“I actually got yelled at a couple of times by Pop earlier in the season when I was having an off game and had a look he thought I should have shot and didn’t,” Bonner said. “He got mad.”
NOTES: San Antonio Spurs C Tiago Splitter missed the game Monday with a strained right calf that has prevented him from playing in all but one game this season. … Spurs G Marco Belinelli missed his seventh straight game with a strained right groin. Coach Gregg Popovich said Belinelli would likely travel with the team for games at Cleveland and Minnesota this week, but not Splitter. Even so, Belinelli’s status for those games is uncertain. … The 76ers have a new player. They signed 6-9 F Robert Covington from Grand Rapids of the NBA Development League last weekend. Covington was the D-League rookie of the year last season. He played in seven games for the Houston Rockets.
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