Mills, Leonard lead balanced Spurs past Suns 97-87
PHOENIX (AP) — Tony Parker took the night off with a sore right triceps. Tim Duncan and Manu Ginobili were far from their best.
Yet, even at the end of a long, long road trip, the San Antonio Spurs still had plenty to handle the Phoenix Suns in a 97-87 victory on Sunday night.
Patty Mills and Kawhi Leonard scored 16 points apiece to lead six players in double figures and the Spurs had a successful finish to their nine-game trip — a long annual journey caused by a rodeo back home — to boost their NBA-best record to 45-13.
"It was a great trip," coach Gregg Popovich said. "We were 7-2, you have to be happy with that. I thought the guys kept good focus on the road here in the last game. You know they all want to go home and I thought they did a fine job."
Tiago Splitter scored nine of his 14 in San Antonio's 35-point second quarter.
The Spurs have developed the kind of depth that they still win when one of their Big 3 is out.
"We've had to do it quite a bit this year as far as having one, two or three of those guys out," Popovich said. "So the bench has gotten a good look and I think they have gained some good confidence through all that."
Marcin Gortat scored 21 for Phoenix, 16 in the first half. Luis Scola added 15, and Goran Dragic had 10 points and 11 assists.
San Antonio beat the Suns for the sixth straight time and ninth in their last 10 meetings.
"There's always some mental lapse from wanting to get home, but this is what makes this team so professional and how we carry ourselves on and off the court through the entire season," Mills said. "It's pretty impressive just as a player on the team watching how we carry ourselves."
The Spurs scored the first 14 points of the second quarter, taking a 33-21 lead on Stephen Jackson's 3-pointer from the corner. The outburst reached 25-4 with Splitter scoring seven straight points, punctuated by his three-point play that put the Spurs up 44-25 with 4:53 left in the half.
Phoenix cut the lead to 13 three times the rest of the quarter with San Antonio leading 54-40 at the break.
The Suns never got it to single digits in the second half.
"We just have to be smarter and just continue to get better execution-wise at both ends of the floor," Phoenix interim coach Lindsey Hunter said. "You play so hard and then you make one mistake against those guys and they make you pay. That's what they do. We'll continue to chip away at getting better."
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