SPURS GAMEDAY: Silver and Black steadily putting pieces together
Gameday at a glance
Miami Heat (11-12) vs. Spurs (16-8)
When, where: 7:30 p.m., Wednesday, AT&T Center
Season series: Spurs lead 1-0
Last meeting: Spurs 117, Heat 100, Oct. 25, Miami
Heat’s last game: Lost to Warriors 123-95, Sunday, Miami
Spurs’ last game: Beat Pistons 96-93, Monday, AT&T Center
Heat’s last 10 games, streak: 5-5, lost one
Spurs’ last 10 games, streak: 7-3, won one
Notable: The Spurs had three players, LaMarcus Aldridge, Pau Gasol and Rudy Gay, record double-doubles Monday night for the first time since 2014 at Brooklyn (Tim Duncan, Danny Green, Kawhi Leonard) . . . Kyle Anderson (left MCL sprain) and Kawhi Leonard (right quadriceps tendinopathy) are out for Wednesday night’s game.
SAN ANTONIO – Any victory is a good victory, but some are more satisfying than others.
Beating a “quality opponent” (read: an opponent with a winning record) is always a confidence booster.
The Spurs walked off the court with a little more pep in their step Monday night after hanging on to beat the rugged Detroit Pistons 96-93 in the first of three games this week at the AT&T Center.
"We continued to fight and trust the system, knowing that good things would turn out for us," guard Danny Green said. "It was good for our young guys and for our team."
Slowly, but surely, the Silver and Black are rounding into form with a team that's played without injured All-NBA forward Kawhi Leonard since the preseason. Leonard worked on his free throws Wednesday morning at the team's shootaround.
The win against the Pistons (14-9) was the Spurs' fifth in their past six games. San Antonio (16-8) hosts Miami (11-12) on Wednesday night. The Spurs beat the Heat 117-100 on Oct. 25 in Miami, and have won the last eight games in the series, including four in a row in the Alamo City.
The Silver and Black haven’t lost to the Heat in San Antonio since March 31, when LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh were playing for Miami.
Green was among seven Spurs who scored in double figures against the Pistons. LaMarcus Aldridge (17/10), Pau Gasol (15/10) and Rudy Gay (12/10) led the way with double-doubles in scoring and rebounding.
"It was good to get a win against a team like that, kind of an awkward team to play against," Gay said. "We just showed our versatility."
Manu Ginobili (12), Davis Bertans (11), Green (11) and Patty Mills (11) also scored in double digits and each was 3 of 6 from the three-point line. The Silver and Black nailed 14 of 31 attempts from beyond the arc.
The victory came one night after a 90-87 loss in Oklahoma City that snapped San Antonio’s string of four consecutive victories. Unlike Sunday night, when the Spurs were short-handed because of injuries or players resting, coach Gregg Popovich had everybody available but Leonard and Kyle Anderson.
Detroit led by nine points in the third quarter, but the Silver and Black clawed back by making big plays on both ends of the court.
“It was a hard-fought win,” Gasol said. “We pretty much had to come from behind because this team (Pistons) is playing well with a lot of confidence. For us, we were (playing a) back-to-back. Not that everyone played (Sunday), but everyone traveled and all that.
“Just proud of the team, how we keep making it happen, making plays, and earning it. That’s what it takes. That spirit, togetherness. No matter how, no matter what, you’ve just got to get it done and give ourselves a chance, and we did tonight again.”
Given that the Spurs played with a short bench Sunday to rest players, Ginobili said it was important that they win Monday’s game.
“Yesterday, Pop sat out a lot of players to get ready for today,” Ginobili said after the win over the Pistons. “So, we jeopardized the win yesterday to win today. If we would have lost yesterday and today, it would have been demoralizing and hurtful. It’s good that we got this win because it makes sense for yesterday.
“It was a well-fought game. We were very aggressive. Maybe not the best game on the details and defensive-wise, especially in the first half, but it was a tough game to win. So, we are proud of that.”
Detroit guard Reggie Jackson led all scorers with 27 points, but he had only seven in the second half. After hitting 9 of 11 shots, including 2 of 3 three-pointers in the first half, he was 3 of 10 in the last two quarters and missed his only attempt from beyond the arc.
"We just tried to put a little more pressure on him off the dribble, be a little higher in those pick-and-rolls," Gasol said, when asked what adjustments the Spurs made to slow down Jackson in the second half. "We kind of changed the game plan because he had 20 points in the first half.
"We just had to make sure he wasn't as comfortable, and he didn't have as much space because he was dropping those floaters and getting into the lane too comfortably. He was being very efficient. We just had to put a little more pressure on him, make him get ride of the ball, make it harder for him. I think it worked."
The Spurs are No. 1 in the NBA in scoring defense, yielding an average of 97 points. Boston is second (97.5), but the Celtics have the league’s top defensive rating, giving up 99.1 points per 100 possessions. San Antonio is second (99.9).
Up next for the Spurs after Wednesday’s game: vs. Celtics, Friday, 8:30 p.m., AT&T Center