Tim Duncan continued his turn-back-the-clock season tonight, as he and sophomore standout Kawhi Leonard guided a San Antonio Spurs team playing without Manu Ginobili and Tony Parker past the Atlanta Hawks, 99-97.
Duncan started off slow, scoring just four points in the first quarter, but came back in to the game midway through the second quarter and scored 16 points in the final 5 1/2 minutes of the half. Duncan's tear continued in the second half as he finished the game with 31 points, 14 rebounds, four blocks and three assists. Leonard's all-around improvement continued as well as he added 23 points, six rebounds and five assists.
The Spurs weren't the only ones playing shorthanded, as the Hawks entered the game without Al Horford, Josh Smith, Kyle Korver and Devin Harris. While it felt like San Antonio was in control for much of the game, Atlanta got within four points several times in the second half thanks to the bench contribution of Mike Scott, Shelvin Mack and John Jenkins. The three reserves scored 47 points combined. Down four with just three seconds left, Dahntay Jones stole the ball from Tiago Splitter and then was fouled in the act of shooting. Jones made the first two of three free throws. He then missed the third free throw on purpose, but Leonard corralled the rebound, ending the game.
After sitting most of the fourth quarter in the Spurs' loss to the Oklahoma City Thunder, San Antonio opted to shut Parker down for Saturday's game since they don't play again until next Wednesday. Parker was officially listed as out with a sore neck, but he's also recovering from a sprained ankle among other smaller injuries. His status for Wednesday's game against Denver is up in the air.