Remember when the Spurs consistently won games by scoring in the 80s or low 90s and playing rock-solid defense?
That formula carried the Spurs to four NBA championships in nine seasons, from 1999-2007, but opponents no longer are intimidated by the Silver & Black's defense.
It's the Spurs' offense that gives them headaches now, as Indiana Pacers coach Frank Vogel said before the Silver & Black rolled to a 112-103 victory against his team Saturday night at the AT&T Center.
The win, coming in the Spurs' 50th game of the lockout-shortened season, was their seventh in a row and sixth in nine days. San Antonio (36-14) has won nine of its last 10 games heading into the final month of the regular season. The Spurs have the longest activewinning streak inthe NBA.
Playing aggressively on both ends of the court, Tim Duncan had a double-double with 23 points and 11 rebounds to lead the Spurs. Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili scored 18 points apiece, and Gary Neal and Tiago Splitter chipped in 11 and 10 points, respectively.
The game was a homecoming of sorts for former Spurs guard George Hill, who was traded to the Pacers in a draft-night deal this year that brought rookie Kawhi Leonard to San Antonio. Hill finished with nine points.
Pacers coach impressed with Spurs' offense
Now back to what Vogel said about how the Spurs have evolved into one of the league's most potent offensive teams.
It's been very different, Vogel said. It's been a little bit of a progression the last couple of years. A lot of the championship teams here, Timmy always had a 7-footer alongside him.
When you put 3-point shooters around Tim Duncan and rolling to the basket, and put the ball in Parker and Ginobili's hands, it's a nightmare trying to figure out how to guard that stuff. I guess the only saving grace is that they're not as stingy as they once were defensively. Hopefully we can score the ball on them.
The Pacers did, hitting 42 of 79 field-goal attempts (53.2 percent), but it wasn't enough to topple the Spurs, who converted 38 of 76 shots (50 percent).
Everyone was just playing well, Pacers forward Danny Granger said, responding to a question about the Spurs' offense. Everyone gets credit today. The coaching staff executes so efficiently offensively.
They move the ball from side to side. They get you in rotations and have shooters spread out all over the place. We shot a good percentage, but we just couldn't stop their offense.
Spurs never trailed Pacers
In the end, Duncan, Ginobili and Parker simply were too much for Indiana (30-21).
All three of them played really well tonight and everybody else fit in, but those three guys were all good all at the same time, Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said. We needed that because Indiana is a physical team, very talented and they know what they're doing. They're well coached and they never gave in.
The Spurs never trailed in a game that was tied only once, at 4-4, and led 64-48 at halftime after outscoring the Pacers 39-30 in the second quarter. The Silver & Black led by as many as 22 points in the period, but the Pacers wouldn't go away.
Indiana, which also had five players score in double figures, outscored the Spurs 30-26 in the third quarter and 25-22 in the fourth.
Granger and Paul George led the Pacers with 18 points apiece.
They are very physical, Duncan said. They are very young and very talented. They have a lot of guys that can score the ball and as I said, they did not go away. They just kept on playing. They showed some real character, especially in the second half.
We got up big on them, but they fought their way back. I thought we finished the game very well. We did a good job of moving the ball and defensively made some stops.
Pacers coach says Spurs have shot at title
The Spurs begin the homestretch of their regular season, when they play their final 16 games in 23 days, with back-to-back road games against Cleveland and Boston on Tuesday and Wednesday.
Vogel said the Spurs have to be counted among the contenders for the crown this season.
They have a championship core, he said. They have a legitimate shot at winning it all. Anytime you have Gregg Popovich, Tony Parker, Manu Ginobili and Tim Duncan, that foursome is capable of doing anything.
They upgraded their bench. They spread the floor, which makes them very hard to defense. They have to be in the conversation.
The Spurs, who began playing as the Dallas Chaparrals in the American Basketball Association before the franchise moved to San Antonio in 1973, wore their Chaps throwback uniforms Saturday night. It was the third time this season the team has worn the Chaps uniforms, but the first at home. The Spurs are 3-0 wearing the retro duds.
Every Spurs player even wore knee-high socks to mimic the fashion that was in vogue on basketball courts in the 1970s.