Duncan scoreless for first time, but Spurs win

Tim Duncan.
Tim Duncan.

SAN ANTONIO • Tim Duncan was held scoreless for the first time in his 19-year National Basketball Association career and San Antonio Spurs team-mate Manu Ginobili joked that it might not be the centre's last.

"I just heard," Ginobili said of the 39-year-old finishing without a point in the Spurs' 121-103 victory over the Houston Rockets on Saturday.

"If he's playing until he's 48, I guess he's going have that (experience) a couple more times."

Duncan did not make a bucket in almost 14 minutes, the first time in his 1,598-game regular-season and play-off career that he failed to score.

  • 1,598

  • Number of NBA games Tim Duncan played before he failed to score in one

  • 20-0

  • Win-loss record for San Antonio Spurs at home this season

  • 3

  • Number of teams who had opened their season with a 20-0 home record: Portland Trail Blazers (1977-78), Houston Rockets (1985-86) and San Antonio Spurs (2015-16).

  • 29

  • Current home-game winning streak by the Spurs, including nine games from last season

He had missed San Antonio's last three games with a sore knee, and took just three shots against the Rockets.

He still contributed four rebounds and two assists in his return to action.

Said Spurs guard Danny Green: "It's rare. At his age, you expect that, but not from Timmy.

"I don't think he played a ton either tonight. It's his first game back in three games.

"He's still trying to get his rhythm, but he didn't get many attempts, either.

"We don't need him to score for us to be effective.

"He rebounds. He outlets. He alters shots, blocks shots. He's great for us on the defensive end of the floor. Timmy's gonna do what he does. It's only a matter of time."

Green scored six three-pointers while LaMarcus Aldridge had 24 points and nine rebounds.

The Spurs (29-6) avenged one of their rare losses, a Christmas Day defeat in Houston, with the dominating win over their Texas rival, turning a close game in the third quarter into a big rout with a 26-5 run.

Forward Kawhi Leonard added 23 points and played lockdown defence on Houston guard James Harden, holding one of the NBA's top scorers to one point in the second half.

Harden finished with 17 points as Houston (16-19) were led by Dwight Howard with 22 points and 12 rebounds.

The victory was the 20th straight at home this season for San Antonio, allowing the Spurs to expand their best home start ever and extend their win streak in AT&T Center to 29 games dating to the final nine home games of 2014-15.

San Antonio are just the third Western Conference team in history to open a season with a 20-0 win-loss home record, joining Portland (which won their first 26 games in 1977-78) and Houston (20 in 1985-86).

REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 04, 2016, with the headline 'Duncan scoreless for first time, but Spurs win'. Print Edition | Subscribe