GAMEDAY AT A GLANCE
Boston Celtics (21-14) vs. Spurs (20-17)
When, where: Monday, 6 p.m., AT&T Center
TV: KENS 5, 6 p.m.
Last season: Tied 1-1
All-time series record: Spurs lead 52-39
Season series: First meeting
Last meeting: Spurs 105, Celtics 102, Dec. 8, 2017, AT&T Center
Spurs' last game: Beat Clippers 122-111, Saturday, Los Angeles
Celtics' last game: Beat Grizzlies 112-103, Saturday, Memphis
Spurs' last 10 games/streak: 7-3, won one
Celtics' last 10 games/streak: 6-4, won one
Celtics' injury/inactive report: Center Robert Williams (quad), out.
Spurs' injury/inactive report: Forward Rudy Gay (sore left wrist), questionable; forward Chimezie Metu (G League assignment), out; forward Ben Moore (G League assignment), out; point guard Dejounte Murray (torn right anterior cruciate ligament), out; Lonnie Walker IV (G League assignment), out.
Notable: The Spurs (20-17) are 9-3 since slipping to three games under .500 (11-14) after back-to-back road losses to Utah on Dec. 4 and the Lakers on Dec. 5 . . . The Spurs are the only NBA team with an all-time winning record against every team in the league . . . San Antonio hasn't lost two straight since falling to the Jazz and the Lakers in the back-to-back earlier in December.
SAN ANTONIO – It wouldn’t be hyperbole to say that the Spurs’ road game against the Los Angeles Clippers on Saturday was something of a gut check for the Silver Black, who were coming off a tough three-point loss in Denver the previous night.
After falling short against the Nuggets, the Spurs passed the latest test of their mettle with flying colors.
Forward LaMarcus Aldridge scored a season-high 38 points and DeMar DeRozan finished with 25 points and 13 rebounds, leading the Spurs to a 122-111 win over the Clippers on the second night of the back-to-back.
“Road wins are good, so we’re happy about it,” Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said. “All in all, it was a good night.”
If not for poor free-throw shooting in the loss to the Nuggets, San Antonio might very well have gone 2-0 on the road trip.
The Silver and Black cut a 16-point deficit to one in the fourth quarter against Denver, but couldn’t complete the comeback. The top free-throw-shooting team in the league, the Spurs went 4 of 8 from the line in the final 1:48 and were 11 of 20 for the game.
San Antonio left no doubt the following night, outscoring the Clippers 39-19 in the third quarter after the teams battled to a 56-56 tie in the first half. The Spurs led by as many as 24 points before L.A. cut its deficit to 11, but that’s as close as the Clippers got.
San Antonio (20-17) ends the year against the Boston Celtics (21-14) on Monday night at the AT&T Center. The game, set for a 6 o’clock tipoff, will be broadcast by KENS 5, the official TV station of the San Antonio Spurs.
The Silver and Black and Celts are meeting for the first time this season. They split their two games last season, with each winning on their home floor.
Boston has had some slippage this season after reaching the seventh game of the Eastern Conference finals last season, but the No. 5 Celts trail first-place Milwaukee by only 4½ games in the standings. San Antonio is eighth in the West, 4½ games behind first-place Denver.
The Spurs have improved steadily since falling to 11-14 after losses to the Jazz and Lakers in a road back-to-back on Dec. 4 and 5. San Antonio opened a six-game home stand with a win over the Lakers on Dec. 7, and has gone 9-3 since falling three games under .500 with the losses in Salt Lake City and Los Angeles.
DeRozan liked the way the Spurs, 6-12 on the road, took control of the game against the Clippers in the third quarter. DeRozan, who also had six assists and four steals in the victory over the Clippers, said the team has focused on coming out in the second half of road games with the same intensity it plays with at home.
“We try to generate that home energy on the road,” he said. “We are trying to be more conscious of that. We know teams are going to start picking it up, especially if we have the lead coming out of the halftime. We want to be the first ones to make the other team to call the first timeout.”
Asked to cite the key factor in the Spurs’ surge since they dropped three games below .500, DeRozan replied: “Consistency. We have more consistency throughout games, especially defensively. Our confidence is showing offensively, once we go out there and play defense like we know we can.”
Rudy Gay (12) Derrick White (12), Marco Belinelli (11) and Bryn Forbes (10) rounded out the Spurs’ double-figure scoring against the Clippers. San Antonio shot 50.6 from the field (44-87), but made only 6 of 23 three-point attempts.
The Clippers shot 43.9 percent (36-82) and hit 9 of 20 threes.
“Being active, trying to make plays and follow the game plan and just making things happen,” Aldridge said, assessing the Spurs’ performance against the Clippers. “That’s how it should be for us.”
San Antonio is at home the rest of the week, playing the Toronto Raptors on Thursday and Memphis Grizzlies on Saturday.
The highly anticipated game against Toronto will mark the first game back at the AT&T Center for former Spurs Kawhi Leonard and Danny Green, who were traded to the Raptors in July in a package deal that brought DeRozan and center Jakob Poeltl to San Antonio. The Silver and Black also received Toronto’s protected first-round pick in the 2019 NBA draft.