Spurs earn play-off spot but focus on 'big picture'

San Antonio Spurs power forward LaMarcus Aldridge (12) shoots over Detroit Pistons centre Andre Drummond (far right) during the Spurs' 97-81 win on Wednesday. The victory clinched their 19th straight berth in the play-offs but Aldridge said the achie
San Antonio Spurs power forward LaMarcus Aldridge (12) shoots over Detroit Pistons centre Andre Drummond (far right) during the Spurs' 97-81 win on Wednesday. The victory clinched their 19th straight berth in the play-offs but Aldridge said the achievement was not a topic of conversation for the team.PHOTO: REUTERS

SAN ANTONIO • The San Antonio Spurs continue to set one milestone after another during this record-breaking season but insist they are not paying any attention while keeping their collective eyes on the ultimate prize - another National Basketball Association title.

Kawhi Leonard poured in 27 points as the San Antonio Spurs shrugged off a ragged first half and ran away from the Detroit Pistons 97-81 on Wednesday, winning their sixth straight game and remaining unbeaten at home this season.

San Antonio (51-9) improved to 29-0 at the AT&T Center this campaign, extending their record for the best home start by a Western Conference team.

LaMarcus Aldridge added 23 points and pulled down a team-high 10 rebounds for the Spurs as four of their starters scored in double figures. Tim Duncan had 12 points and gathered eight rebounds in 20 minutes of court time and Tony Parker scored 10 points for San Antonio.

The Spurs, up by one point at half-time, turned up their defence in the third quarter as Detroit shot just 22 per cent from the floor and trailed by as many as 17 points. Aldridge scored 13 points in the period.

Spurs coach Gregg Popovich was pleased with his team's effort on defence after half-time. "It was very good," he said. "We allowed 30 points in the second half. It's pretty special if you can do that."

San Antonio clinched their 19th straight play-off appearance, tying the Boston Celtics (1951-69) for the fourth-longest streak in NBA history. It was the lowest number of games needed to clinch a post-season spot in franchise history, excluding strike-shortened seasons.

Aldridge claimed he was not aware that the team had clinched a play-off spot. "It's something that's not been talked about in our locker room and I haven't really been paying attention because I try to stay locked in to what we are doing," said the power forward.

"It's not about (the milestones). We have a bigger picture in mind and the guys are focused on that."

The victory also allowed the Spurs to lengthen their regular-season home victory streak to 38 games, since an overtime loss to Cleveland last March, and built on their best start in franchise history after 60 games.

Tobias Harris and Marcus Morris scored 16 points each to lead Detroit (31-30) while reserve Aron Baynes added 12 points and Reggie Jackson had 11.

"San Antonio plays great defence but we were very individual on offence in the second half," Pistons coach Stan Van Gundy said. "We didn't play together, we didn't move the ball, we didn't get second or third options and we played a lot of one on one and forced shots."

REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 04, 2016, with the headline 'Spurs earn play-off spot but focus on 'big picture''. Print Edition | Subscribe