José Luis Villegas / jvillegas@sacbee.com

The Spurs’ Tim Duncan shoots over the Kings’ DeMarcus Cousins on Friday, when San Antonio continued its outstanding March by winning its 12th consecutive game.

NBA Beat: Spurs again are in title contention

Published: Saturday, Mar. 22, 2014 - 11:09 pm
Last Modified: Sunday, Mar. 23, 2014 - 7:22 pm

Injuries do not derail them. Changes to the coaching staff do not shake them.

After all, these are the San Antonio Spurs.

The Spurs do not have a player mentioned in MVP talk. They had only one All-Star, Tony Parker.

But as the season winds down, San Antonio again is contending for an NBA championship and playing its best ball in March, having won 12 consecutive games entering Saturday’s contest at Golden State and boasting an NBA-best 52-16 record.

The Spurs are winning with their offense. During the winning streak, they are averaging 112.5 points and shooting 49.4 percent from the field and 43.6 percent from three-point range.

“We changed about three or four years ago knowing full well we weren’t going to be capable of being the first- or second-best defensive team in the league anymore with the age,” Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said. “So we had to do something to stay in the mix. For us, that meant to increase the pace and shift to a more perimeter-oriented team, using threes and that kind of thing. We’ve continued that.”

Five Spurs are averaging at least 11 points, including reserves Manu Ginobili and Marco Belinelli. San Antonio is averaging 25.2 assists, tied for No. 1 in the league. All this with only one player, Parker, averaging more than 30 minutes.

The Spurs shouldn’t have much to complain about offensively. Don’t tell that to Popovich.

“You know coaches, we’re a sick lot,” Popovich said. “We still turn it over a bit too much. Sometimes we hold (the ball) a bit too much. I think we can always get better. We call it good to great. If you’ve got a good shot, that’s fine, but if you can move it to a great shot, that’s what you should be doing. I think we can do that better. Shoot more uncontested shots, turn it over less and keep the ball moving because people can’t guard if you move the ball.”

The increased pace and ball movement are important because the Spurs don’t rely on one player to carry the offense.

“We’ve got to do it as a group,” Popovich said.

The Spurs have not abandoned defense. They’re holding opponents to 97.7 points per game, fifth in the league. During the winning streak, they’re holding foes to 96.8 points per game on 43.1 percent shooting.

But the Spurs won’t make a big deal out of it. This is what they expect to do.

Trending up

Don’t blame Anthony Davis for New Orleans’ struggles.

March has been good to Davis. In nine games, he’s averaging 27.7 points, 11.7 rebounds, 2.3 assists and 2.3 blocks. Only the blocks are below Davis’ season averages.

The only thing that has slowed Davis this season is injuries.

Trending down

Andrew Bynum’s showing in two games with Indiana is looking more like a tease. He has been ruled out indefinitely because of knee soreness.

Knee problems sidelined Bynum for the 2012-13 season and have limited him to 26 games this season, the first 24 with Cleveland.

An All-Star with the Los Angeles Lakers in 2012, Bynum averaged 11.5 points and 9.5 rebounds in two games with the Pacers. He signed with Indiana after Cleveland traded him to Chicago, which waived him.

Last words

“I’m pain-free. I’m just going to ... get it looked at and go from there.”

– Oklahoma City guard Russell Westbrook to The Oklahoman after leaving Friday’s win at Toronto because of a sprained right knee. Westbrook, who has had three surgical procedures on his right knee since last season’s playoffs, said he doesn’t expect to miss any time.


Follow The Bee’s Jason Jones on Twitter @mr_jasonjones and read more about the team at www.sacbee.com/kings.

Read more articles by Jason Jones



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