Defence key to Spurs' season

San Antonio keep opponents on tight leash as a fresh spirit of aggression infuses team

SAN ANTONIO (Texas) • Defence is usually an aspect that the San Antonio Spurs round into form as the year progresses but, through their first 17 games, they are ahead of schedule, a sign of trouble for the rest of the National Basketball Association (NBA) teams.

Forward Kawhi Leonard poured in 22 points and six San Antonio players scored in double figures as the Spurs waylaid the Atlanta Hawks 108-88 on Saturday to remain undefeated at home.

Leonard, who did most of his damage with 15 points in the first half, led the Spurs in scoring for the sixth straight game. San Antonio (14-3) are 9-0 at the AT&T Centre this season and have won 11 of their past 12 games overall.

SIGNALLING THEIR INTENTIONS

We've always tried to play defence like this, and we are running back into transition better... now we've got to sustain it.

MANU GINOBILI on the team's form

More importantly, the Spurs have limited opponents to 88 points or less on 11 occasions this year and to an average of 83.4 points per game in their current five-game winning streak.

"We usually build as a team defensively, but this year we've started out very aggressively," Spurs reserve guard Manu Ginobili said.

"We've always tried to play defence like this, and we are running back into transition better. We are much improved - now we've got to sustain it."

Forward LaMarcus Aldridge and reserve guard Patty Mills added 13 points apiece for San Antonio, Ginobili scored 12 points and forward Tim Duncan tallied 10 points and grabbed a season-high 18 rebounds.

The Hawks were led by reserve forward Mike Scott's 12 points.

"At times we had good looks and you have to take advantage of your good looks against a team like the Spurs," coach Mike Budenholzer said.

"They pressure the ball well, run you off the three-point line and rebound well. They do a lot of the little things to be one of the top defensive teams in the league."

Elsewhere in the league, at the Oracle Arena, the Golden State Warriors improved to 18-0 with a 120-101 win over the Sacramento Kings.

The reigning NBA champions now embark on a seven-game trip, during which they will be chasing the 27-game winning streak set by the Miami Heat during the 2012-13 season.

The Los Angeles Lakers hold the all-time record of 33 straight wins, set during the 1971-72 season.

Draymond Green recorded the franchise's first back-to-back triple-double in 51 years with 13 points, 11 rebounds and 12 assists.

The last Warriors player to record triple-doubles in consecutive games was Hall-of-Fame centre Wilt Chamberlain in 1964. Green contributed 14 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists in Friday's 135-116 win at Phoenix.

REUTERS, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 30, 2015, with the headline 'Defence key to Spurs' season'. Print Edition | Subscribe