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article imageNBA: Spurs start strong against Detroit, hang on for win

By Lynn Herrmann     Mar 10, 2011 in Sports
San Antonio - After an embarrassing effort on Sunday against Los Angeles, the San Antonio Spurs hosted the Detroit Pistons on Wednesday, built a huge first-half lead and then watched the Pistons make a game of it before hanging on for a 111-104 win.
Having lost three of their last eight games in resounding blowouts, including their worst game of the season on Sunday, an emphatic thumping delivered by the visiting Lakers that snapped the Spurs 22-game home court win streak, the Spurs looked to bounce back on Wednesday night against the Detroit Pistons.
With a tough 3-game stretch on the road starting Saturday against Houston, followed by appearances in Miami and Dallas, the Spurs needed a winning effort to get back on track. That is what they gave, barely.
In pre-game comments on Spurs Radio, Steve Novak summed up the Lakers loss, saying: “In a game like that, you can go and rip everything apart, but at the end of the day, it comes down to competitiveness. They came out and were just more aggressive.”
Despite the Spurs’ league-leading record, they continue searching for solid defense intent on showing up on a regular basis. Wednesday against Detroit was no different. The Spurs’ erratic play of late allowed them to build a huge 19-point first-half lead against a team with one of the poorest records in the league, and without any defensive pressure, let the Pistons pull within five late in the game.
Looking to take a page from the Lakers strategy, on Wednesday the Spurs came out of the gate on fire, hitting their first 14 shots, yet they were only up 33-20. During that stretch, Detroit had a 6-0 run, including a three by Ben Gordon, to stay close.
The first quarter ended with the Spurs up 40-26. It was their highest first quarter scoring effort of the season, as they hit 17-of-21 from the field.
Early in the second quarter, an Austin Daye 3-pointer cut the Spurs lead to 43-32, but the Spurs then went on a 10-3 run to go up 53-35 and it looked like a blowout was in the works, but 10 first-half turnovers by the Spurs denied them the chance to build a rhythm that would carry into the second half.
Tayshaun Prince hit a basket for Detroit as the second quarter ended, and the Pistons trailed the Spurs, 67-52, at the half.
Detroit hung around in the third quarter, cutting the Spurs lead to 10, 72-62, on a three-point play by Greg Monroe, but San Antonio eventually took an 88-75 lead into the final frame.
The Spurs were still up by 13 at the 8:00 mark of the fourth when Detroit began its push. A Richard Hamilton turnaround jumper cut the lead to 99-88 and that was followed with Monroe’s reverse layup to make it 99-90.
Daye hit a jumper to make it 102-95 and Detroit was very much in the game. A Monroe layup gave the Pistons a 7-0 run and pulled them within five, 102-97, with 2:27 to play.
Parker 3-pointer 105-97
The Spurs answered with a huge 3-pointer by Tony Parker to make it 105-97. He then followed with a layup to put the Spurs up by 10 and they hung on for the victory.
With the win, the Spurs improved to 52-12 and also clinched a playoff berth.
The Pistons were led by Hamilton, coming off the bench to score 20 points. Prince added 16 points while Monroe produced a double-double with 16 points and 10 boards. Tracy McGrady, starting at the point, scored 15.
Playing his 1,000th game in his 15-year NBA career, Antonio McDyess was given the honor of starting for the Spurs. There is no doubt the Spurs organization is appreciative of his talent, leadership and disposition.
Noting the respect McDyess has earned in the course of his career, Spurs assistant coach Don Newman told Spurs Radio: “He’s a tremendous human being and a team mate. He’s a pleasure to be around.”
Although the Spurs played just enough defense to hold back the Pistons, their offensive machine was the difference to the game and provided another impressive and balanced scoring attack. San Antonio never trailed in the game, hitting a first-quarter season high 81 percent from the field.
They followed that with a second-quarter season high 79 percent from the field. For the game, they shot 64 percent from the field, also a season high. And just barely won.
Parker led the Spurs with 23 points, going 11-of-15 from the field, and also had seven assists. Manu Ginobili followed with 17 points, hitting 8-of-11 field goals. Tim Duncan added another double-double with 15 points and 12 rebounds. Richard Jefferson added 12 points.
Bench scoring was led by Gary Neal with 15 points, followed by Matt Bonner with 11.
The defensive swagger that carried the Spurs to four previous championships is still being searched for. With 18 games left in the regular season, there is little doubt the Spurs are checking the daily mail to see when it arrives.
More about NBA, San antonio spurs, Detroit pistons, antonio mcdyess, Tony parker
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