San Antonio Spurs remain unbeaten at home with win over Orlando Magic

By Steve Habel, The Sports Xchange

SAN ANTONIO -- With his team out of sync and struggling to find a spark to turn things around late in the third quarter Monday, San Antonio coach Gregg Popovich sent an unconventional and mostly smaller group of players onto the floor to stir things up against upset-minded Orlando.

Those five players -- led by reserve point guard Patty Mills and reserve guard/forward Kyle Anderson -- keyed the Spurs' 15-2 run as San Antonio wrestled away Orlando's short-lived lead and defeated the Magic 107-92 to keep their home unbeaten streak intact.


The Spurs' winning surge came over a span of 3:37 that encompassed the end of the third quarter and start of the fourth. Anderson had seven of his nine points during that deciding stretch for San Antonio while Mills hit three jumpers as part of his season-high-tying 22-point output.


"Kyle (Anderson) and Patty (Mills) were great off the bench," Popovich said. "They gave us a lot of energy and got us through."

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Forward LaMarcus Aldridge scored a season-high 28 points as the Spurs (40-8) shrugged off a lackluster performance in the middle two quarters and improved to 26-0 at the AT&T Center this season, matching the 1977-78 Portland Trail Blazers for the best home start ever by a Western Conference team.

The victory also allowed the Spurs to extend their regular-season home win streak to 35 games, dating back to an overtime loss to Cleveland last March. They also matched the best ever start in franchise history after 48 games (set in 2010-11).

It was the 14th time this season that Aldridge, San Antonio's high-profile offseason free-agent signee, has led the Spurs in scoring. Reserve guard Manu Ginobili added 13 points for the Spurs while forward Kawhi Leonard had 10 points.

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Orlando (21-26) got 20 points and 10 rebounds from center Nikola Vucevic. Guard Victor Oladipo had 19 points, forward Aaron Gordon had 12 points and a career-high 16 rebounds and forward Tobias Harris scored 11 points for the Magic.


Ginobili said Mills and Anderson were in the game at its crucial time because they've worked to be in that position.

"Pop(ovich) was trying to find the energy he wanted and he found it with that lineup," Ginobili said. "Patty was outstanding in that stretch and Kyle gave us some big buckets when we needed them. Pop doesn't give out gifts and try to be nice, especially after the two (blowout road losses to Golden State and Cleveland) last week. He's giving them the minutes because they deserve it and they provided what we need."

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The Spurs got off to a good start, hitting four of their first seven shots and rolling to a 14-0 lead before Vucevic's putback at the 8:25 mark gave the Magic their first points. Aldridge had 14 points on 5-of-6 shooting from the floor in the first quarter as San Antonio established a 35-24 lead after 12 minutes of play.

But the Magic cut San Antonio's advantage to six points twice in the second quarter before settling for a 52-44 deficit at halftime. Vucevic had 12 points and seven rebounds in the half to lead Orlando while Aldridge had 16 points and Mills had 10 to pace the Spurs.


Orlando outrebounded San Antonio 28-20 in the first half (and 51-42 overall) and held a 13-3 advantage on the offensive glass as the Spurs played for the fourth straight game (and 11th time this season) without the inside presence of injured forward Tim Duncan. The Magic ended up with 19 offensive rebounds, a season-high against the Spurs.

"We got down early on but we just kept playing," Gordon said. "We communicated well and helped each other out, but at the end we got out of our flow. Our lack of offense affected us on defense. We felt like we had the game but we just wore down."

The Magic started the third quarter with a 10-2 run to tie the score at 54-54 at the 9:33 mark and eventually took their first lead of the game, at 56-55, on a driving layup by Oladipo with 8:51 to play in the quarter. Orlando led 70-69 on a driving backdoor layup by reserve guard/forward Evan Fournier with 1:31 left in the quarter, but San Antonio ran off the final six points of the period on two jumpers from the left elbow by Mills and a pair of free throws by Aldridge.


"We came back at the start of the third but we just couldn't get enough consistent stops followed by a basket in the fourth quarter," Magic coach Scott Skiles said. "I never thought we were moving well throughout the game and we were fortunate to be skill in the game by midway through the third quarter."

NOTES: Spurs G Danny Green shot 49 percent (26-for-53) from 3-point range during the month of January and connected on a season-high-tying six 3-pointers against Houston on Jan. 27. ... Spurs assistant coach James Borrego was an assistant for Orlando from 2012-15. He ended his final season with the Magic as the interim head coach when the team fired Jacque Vaughn on Feb. 5. ... The Spurs went 11-2 in the month of January, starting 10-0 in the month and setting a franchise record for best start to a New Year. The month also saw San Antonio became the first team in NBA history to record a 10-game win streak in six consecutive seasons. ... Before Monday, the Magic had 15 games this season decided by five points or fewer (6-9 record) and 10 games decided by three points or fewer (4-6 record), tied for the second most in the NBA.


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