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The San Antonio Spurs (44-28) played like a team fighting for a playoff berth as they cruised past the Boston Celtics (47-26) 94-73 in front of a sellout crowd at the TD Garden on Sunday night.
The Celtics, who have played well against Western Conference teams as of late, played a solid first quarter against the Spurs, before putting forth an uninspired effort the rest of the way. The C’s led 23-19 through the first 12 minutes, but were outscored in each of the final three quarters, including 33-17 in the third.
Manu Ginobli, plagued by injuries for most of this season, led the visitors with 28 points on 9-19 shooting, and he also chipped in seven assists. The Argentine shooting guard, filling in for the injured Tony Parker (broken hand), headed for the locker room with three minutes remaining to ice his injured foot, before catching a flight to New Jersey for the final game of his team’s east coast road trip. Richard Jefferson added 16 points and 11 rebounds for San Antonio.
The Celtics had won six of seven games heading into Sunday night’s contest, but were playing without an injured Kendrick Perkins (knee tendinitis). Perkins’ absence was felt as Boston struggled to establish themselves inside on both ends of the floor. They were out-rebounded by the Spurs 48-37, and outscored in the paint 40-36.
For reasons unclear to me, or anyone attending/watching the game, the C’s stopped working the ball inside to KG, Rasheed Wallace, and Glen Davis in the second half, and they paid for it. The home team shot a lowly 37.0 % from the field, and were 1/14 from beyond the arc.
“It was one of those nights we were awful,” Boston coach Doc Rivers said. “Ginobili dominated this game. He single-handedly was the will of the game.”
Paul Pierce led the Celtics with 18 points on 4-11 shooting. KG recorded his third consecutive double-double with 12 points and 10 rebounds, and Sheldon Williams shot a perfect 5-5 scoring 11 points in the loss.
Even with the loss, the Celtics still have possession of the third seed in the Eastern Conference because they are a division leader, and Atlanta is not. However, they need to finish strong because the Hawks could pass them with a superior winning percentage. Both teams currently sit at 47-26. The Milwaukee Bucks (40-32) are currently 6.5 games behind both Boston and Atlanta.
“This does not change our progress,” said Ray Allen, who scored seven points on 2-for-9 shooting. “You trip up a little here, but it doesn’t change the mission we’re on or the direction we’re heading.”
Tags: Atlanta Hawks, Boston Celtics, Doc Rivers, Glen Davis, Kendrick Perkins, Kevin Garnett, Manu Ginobili, Michael Finley, Milwaukee Bucks, Paul Pierce, Rasheed Wallace, Ray Allen, Richard Jefferson, San Antonio Spurs, Sheldon Williams, TD Garden, Tony Parker