BOSTON — San Antonio came into Boston missing three key players. Fortunately for the Spurs, Tim Duncan wasn’t among them.
Duncan scored 23 of his 25 points in the second half, powering the injury-depleted Spurs to a 104-92 win over the Celtics on Wednesday night.
“More than anything, Tim led the way for us as he has for 16 or 17 years,” coach Gregg Popovich said about his team pulling away in the final quarter.
Marco Belinelli added 16 points, 11 rebounds and eight assists for the Spurs, who were without guards Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili and forward Tiago Splitter – all sidelined with injuries.
Coming off a first half when he went 1 for 4 from the floor, Duncan scored 11 points on 4-of-9 shooting in the third to help San Antonio open a 71-66 lead after three.
“I started out the second half the exact same way and finally got some to fall,” he said. “They kept coming to me and I just put it in the hole. There wasn’t anything I changed, anything I saw.”
Boris Diaw added 18 points and Duncan grabbed nine rebounds to lead the Spurs to their fifth win in seven games.
“He’s had that same demeanor since Day 1 when he arrived,” Popovich said of Duncan. “He doesn’t get excited about wins. He doesn’t get down about losses. He just loves to compete and he keeps a real steady attitude, which everybody kind of feeds off in a way.”
First-year Boston coach Brad Stevens thought Duncan decided to take command more after halftime.
“He changed,” Stevens said. “I mean, he went back to being really aggressive on the blocks. I thought in the first half we did a really good job on a couple of catches that he did have down on the block, but he kind of put (them) on his shoulders. He wasn’t going to be denied – and we don’t have great matchups for him. There’s not many great matchups for him in the NBA or in the world.”
Rajon Rondo led Boston with 16 points and Kris Humphries and rookie Kelly Olynyk had 15 apiece. The Celtics fell to 4-18 against Western Conference teams.