INDIANAPOLIS: Tony Parker scored 22 points as San Antonio won their franchise record 18th consecutive game by routing the struggling Indiana Pacers 103-77 yesterday.
Kawhi Leonard tallied 13 points and 11 rebounds, while Boris Diaw came off the bench to score 14 points for the Spurs who used a 12-4 fourth quarter surge to help seal the victory and keep their streak alive.
“We don’t think about it. We just want to play well,” said Parker of the streak. “Hopefully we are not peaking too soon. We just want to win each game.”
San Antonio won 17 in a row during the 1995-96 National Basketball Association regular season. Now they have improved to 58 wins and 16 losses and are 3 1/2 games ahead of the Oklahoma City Thunder for the Western Conference’s best record.
“They are the best team in the league,” said Indiana’s Paul George. “It wasn’t like it was a fluke loss, but we’re better than that.”
While the Spurs are soaring, George’s Pacers are headed in the opposite direction.
Indiana suffered their sixth loss in eight games and lost its grip atop the Eastern Conference standings. They are now tied with the defending champions Miami Heat, who beat the Toronto Raptors for the top spot. “I think everyone needs to play better — the starters and the bench. The issue is rhythm and timing,” said Indiana coach Frank Vogel. “The number one seed is the last thing on our minds right now. We need to get back on track.”
Lance Stephenson finished with 15 points for the Pacers, who haven’t shot more than 40 percent from the floor in six games.
“We have to regroup,” said Pacers forward David West. “We have to have a short memory because we have another game in a couple nights.”
The Pacers trailed by double digits for most of the game, but a Rasual Butler three pointer pulled them within 69-62 early in the fourth quarter in front of a crowd of 18,100 at the Bankers Life Fieldhouse arena.
San Antonio then went on a 12-4 run to restore their double digit lead. Leonard’s dunk capped the surge and staked the Spurs to an 85-69 halfway through the final quarter. They cruised to victory from there.
Earlier, San Antonio roared out to a 13-5 start and led 25-15 going into the second quarter. They held a double-figure lead throughout the second quarter and took a 48-35 lead into halftime.
San Antonio also led 69-59 at the end of three quarters.
LeBron James had 32 points, seven rebounds and eight assists as the Miami Heat earned an important win in the battle for the top record in the Eastern Conference, defeating the Toronto Raptors. By virtue of the win and the Indiana Pacers’ loss to the San Antonio Spurs earlier Monday, the Heat (51-22) lead in the loss column in the competition for the best record in the East. The Pacers (52-23) are in second place by percentage points.
Toronto (42-32) was led by shooting guard DeMar DeRozan, who had 16 points, but they had their three-game win streak snapped despite Miami playing without Dwyane Wade, Ray Allen and Greg Oden.
Zach Randolph scored 20 points and grabbed 11 rebounds, and guard Mike Conley added 19 points, including a key 3-pointer in the final minute, as the Memphis Grizzlies held on to beat the Denver Nuggets.
After reaching the Western Conference Finals last year, the Grizzlies (44-30) are just trying to make the playoffs this year. They pulled even with the Dallas Mavericks and Phoenix Suns in a tie for seventh in the West with eight games remaining for each.
Denver (32-42) was trying to bounce back from a 31-point home loss to the San Antonio Spurs on Friday.
Mike Dunleavy scored 22 points to lead the Chicago Bulls to a victory over the Boston Celtics.
Joakim Noah added 19 points, 11 rebounds and five assists for the Bulls (42-32) who are fourth in the Eastern Conference.
The teams played for the second consecutive night. On Sunday in Boston, the Celtics gave the Bulls all they could handle before falling 107-102.
Kemba Walker had 21 points and 10 assists, and center Al Jefferson had 19 points and 11 rebounds as the Charlotte Bobcats rallied to beat the Washington Wizards. The Bobcats (36-38), sixth in the Eastern Conference, came back from a 60-44 halftime deficit and won by outscoring the seventh place Wizards (38-36) 19-4 over the last 6:43.