Spurs stay perfect on road with 119-114 win over Hornets
CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — The San Antonio Spurs are suddenly looking like road warriors.
After losing just one game at home last season, the Spurs have started this season 8-0 on the road after a 119-114 victory over the Charlotte Hornets on Wednesday night.
Kawhi Leonard scored 30 points, LaMarcus Aldridge added 23 points and seven rebounds, and Danny Green had 16 points as the Spurs won their seventh straight game overall.
Hornets coach Steve Clifford has a pretty good idea why the Spurs have been so tough to beat on the road.
“They have a guy who is an MVP candidate (in Leonard), Pau Gasol and Tony Parker who are probably Hall-of-Famers, Aldridge, who is a perennial All-Star and Danny Green who has been a starter on two championship teams. Plus they have a guy who is maybe the best coach of our time — except for all that they’re just OK,” Clifford said.
In other words, as Clifford added, the Spurs have “a pretty good recipe for success.”
San Antonio’s win didn’t come without a fight, though.
The teams entered the fourth quarter tied at 84 in a tightly contested game that included 28 lead changes in the first three quarters.
Aldridge gave the Spurs the lead for good with 2:53 left on a pair of free throws. Green knocked down two crucial 3-point shots in the closing minutes and Parker made four free throws in the final 10.2 seconds to seal the win.
“It’s a weird year,” Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said. “We’ve lost three in a row at home and last year we lost one the whole year. Now we’re undefeated on the road, so don’t ask me. That’s why they call it a game because you never know what’s going to happen.”
Added Green: “The losing (at home) has helped us on the road. For some odd reason, I think we just have more focus on the road. We’re coming together as a group and trusting each other.”
Spurs: Aldridge has scored in double digits in all 15 games this season. ... Leonard came into the game with the top spot in NBA history for best winning percentage in his first 300 starts (235-65).
Hornets: Jeremy Lamb was active after missing the last 10 games with a hamstring injury. He played only six minutes. ... Cody Zeller missed his third straight game with a shoulder injury, but coach Steve Clifford said there is a chance he could return to action this week.
WALKER JUST ‘NOT EVEN FAIR’
Kemba Walker led the Hornets with 26 points, nine rebounds and seven assists. Frank Kaminsky had 13 points and eight rebounds off the bench.
“Kemba’s really fast. It’s not even fair,” Popovich said.
It may not garner much attention, but the Spurs are winning games with their foul shooting. They came into the league first in the NBA in free throw shooting percentage and made 18 of 20 against the Hornets, including the four clutch shots by Parker in the closing seconds to put the game away.
Hornets owner Michael Jordan tipped his cap to the crowd after the scoreboard showed a highlight of the former NBA star receiving the Presidential Medal of Honor from Barack Obama on Tuesday in Washington.
Despite his team’s third straight loss, Clifford was happy with his team’s overall intensity.
“I just felt like we’re back to playing with a normal intensity level that you’re going to have to play at to play well,” Clifford said. “That can’t be something that comes and goes so much. I feel like until these last two games we have been playing with good energy, good focus.”
Spurs: San Antonio returns to action Friday night when they travel to face the Boston Celtics.
Hornets: Charlotte will head to Madison Square Garden for a Friday night game against the New York Knicks.