- Associated Press - Saturday, December 10, 2016

SAN ANTONIO (AP) - If the San Antonio Spurs weren’t aware of how poorly they’ve played in the opening half of most games this season, they were forcefully reminded recently.

After coach Gregg Popovich called out their professionalism and effort, the Spurs rebounded from their first road loss of the season with their most efficient home performance.

Kawhi Leonard had 30 points and the Spurs set five season highs, rolling to a 130-101 victory over the Brooklyn Nets on Saturday night.

The Spurs led by as many as 38 three days after what Popovich deemed another “24-minute” effort in a 95-91 defeat at Chicago.

“We have so many professional guys and veteran guys, it shouldn’t take him to do that,” San Antonio reserve guard Patty Mills said, “but it definitely affected everyone to know that we’ve got to lace them up here and do what we do. No one messing around.”

The Spurs set season highs for points, points in a quarter, points in a half, assists and 3-pointers in winning their 14th straight at home over the Nets. San Antonio also matched its largest margin of victory, set in a season-opening win over Golden State.

“It feels good, especially to do it at home,” said point guard Tony Parker, who had a season-high seven assists. “We’ve been struggling a little bit at home. We had a good start today. Energy was good. And we kept it for the whole game.”

The Spurs’ effort through the opening 36 minutes enabled them to sit Leonard in the final quarter, which was the only time the Nets could slow the sleek 6-foot-7 forward.

Leonard was 10 for 18 from the field, including 4 for 7 on 3s, in scoring 30 points or more for the seventh time this season. He had four 30-point games in his previous 324 career games.

San Antonio was 14 for 26 on 3-pointers.

“They execute their offense with pace,” Brooklyn coach Kenny Atkinson said. “They are tough to chase around; they really share (the ball). It was a great challenge for us and we weren’t up to it.”

After a string of anemic starts at home that had frustrated the Spurs, San Antonio set season highs for points in any quarter and any half with a 41-point effort in the opening period that helped produce a 67-52 lead at halftime.

The 41 points in the first quarter were nine more than the Spurs had against Chicago in the first half.

“We didn’t like the way we played,” Spurs veteran Manu Ginobili said. “We needed to feel better about the way we played.”

San Antonio had five assists on its first six baskets, with Parker collecting a pair of assists off bounce passes for mid-range jumpers from LaMarcus Aldridge and Pau Gasol. The Spurs had a season-high 38 assists.

Bojan Bogdanovic led Brooklyn with 20 points.


Nets: Brooklyn has not won consecutive games all season. … Nets F Trevor Booker, who has a team-high nine double-doubles, finished with nine points and four rebounds. … The Nets have not won in San Antonio since Jan. 22, 2002, losing 14 straight on the road against the Spurs. … The Nets are 1-9 on the road this season. . Brooklyn PG Jeremy Lin missed the game due to a strained left hamstring. … The Nets have 50 games missed due to injuries this season.

Spurs: San Antonio is 40-4 against the Nets at home, the best home record by a team against an opponent in NBA history. … San Antonio is 13-0 when scoring 100 points or more. … Gasol had three assists and passed former Lakers big man Vlade Divac for third all-time among those 7-feet or taller. Gasol has 3,543 career assists, placing him behind Kareem Abdul Jabbar (5,660) and Wilt Chamberlain (4,643). … The Spurs’ previous high for any quarter was 39 points in the third against the Lakers on Nov. 18. The team’s previous high for the opening period was 31 in the season-opening win against Golden State.


The Spurs gave the Nets plenty of film to watch on how to execute properly.

“One thing that’s great seeing a team like that is watching how they move the ball, how they share the ball (and) how quick their decisions are,” Atkinson said. “It’s good for us as a coaching staff and good for our players to kind of feel that and feel what it’s like. Hopefully one day we will try to imitate that.”


San Antonio might have the NBA’s second-best record at 19-5, but the Spurs know they still have much to improve on.

“I think in this case we can,” Ginobili said. “I don’t think you’re going to find anybody in this locker room that feels satisfied with the way we are playing. We all know we can do so much better. The record is not that important when you’re not playing well.”


Nets: At Houston on Monday.

Spurs: Host Boston on Wednesday.

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