INDIANAPOLIS (AP) - Gregg Popovich may be the only guy who can stop San Antonio right now.
If the Spurs coach had his way, this franchise-record winning streak would probably already be over. His players don’t see it quite the same way.
Tony Parker scored 22 points, Boris Diaw added 14 and the surging Spurs earned their franchise-record 18th consecutive win by handing the Indiana Pacers their worst home loss of the season, 103-77, Monday night.
“We just wanted to continue to do what we’ve been doing, which is push the ball and play at a high pace and share the ball,” Parker said. “It’s nice to have the record in San Antonio, but it still doesn’t mean anything if you don’t win it all.”
A year ago, the Spurs fell short in Game 7 of the NBA Finals at Miami.
This year, San Antonio (58-16) seems to be surging at just the right time. The Spurs haven’t lost since Feb. 21 at Phoenix and broke the franchise’s previous mark on the 18th anniversary of their only other 17-game winning streak by beating the NBA’s best home team on its own court.
If Popovich had his way, this talk would likely be over.
His players don’t believe their coach will allow the streak to continue much longer, especially if the Spurs can clinch the NBA’s best record with games to spare. They lead Oklahoma City by 3½ games in the Western Conference and have six more wins than the Pacers and seven more than the Heat with eight to play.
On Monday, Tim Duncan went 3 of 10 from the field and Manu Ginobili managed only six points and two assists in 16 minutes. The Spurs still routed a team that had been No. 1 in the East all season. Indiana now trails two-time defending champion Miami by percentage points for the top spot in the Eastern Conference.
“We’ll worry about a couple of things, staying healthy, finishing the season strong and hopefully going into the playoffs with the confidence we’re playing with now,” Duncan said.
The loss was a devastating blow to the Pacers, who have made no secret of their desire to get home-court advantage in the East and had a seemingly safe three-game lead after beating Miami at home on Wednesday. But Indiana has lost three straight, finished March with an 8-9 record and the lowest scoring average of any team in the league.
They have lost five of six overall and seem to be in full panic mode with seven games to go.
“It’s awful, we’ve been in a downward spiral and we’ve been splintering a little bit,” Roy Hibbert said. “We’ve had plenty of players-only meetings and plenty of sit-downs as a team with coaches and we’ve had some upper management in here, so I don’t know. Maybe we should all go to group therapy or something, sit down with Dr. (Chris) Carr and figure out some of our grievances.”
Carr is the team’s performance psychologist.