(SportsNetwork.com) – The banner’s up, rings are safely secured and the San
Antonio Spurs successfully opened defense of last season’s title.
The Spurs get back to work Halloween night on the road against the competitive
Phoenix Suns at US Airways Center and will have Kawhi Leonard in the lineup.
Leonard, the reigning Finals MVP, missed the final six preseason games and
Tuesday’s season-opening 101-100 win over the rival Dallas Mavericks because
of a right eye infection. He is entering his fourth season and averaged a
career-high 12.8 points in 66 games last season.
San Antonio was able to squeeze past the Mavericks at the AT&T Center, as Tony
Parker finished with 23 points, including the go-ahead 3-pointer with just
over a minute left. Manu Ginobili had 20 points off the bench, Marco Belinelli
posted 15 points in the start at forward and Tim Duncan added 14 and 13
The Spurs shot 52.9 percent for the game and made 14-of-28 3-pointers. Parker
buried all four of his shots from long range and both Belinelli and Danny
Green sank three. Green scored 13 points for San Antonio, which is 5-0 when
receiving championship rings.
San Antonio assistant coach Becky Hammon made her debut on the bench. She
became the second female in NBA history to work on an NBA coaching staff, but
the first woman to open the season on the bench as a hired employee.
Spurs center Tiago Splitter (strained right calf) and guard Patty Mills (right
shoulder surgery) will not play against the Suns. Parker talked about holding
it together without three top contributors.
“Overall, we did a pretty good job playing without Kawhi, Tiago and Patty.
Three guys who are very important to our team,” said Parker. “It was a big win
The Spurs recorded 31 road wins last season.
Phoenix picked up where it left off last season with Wednesday’s 119-99
drubbing of the Los Angeles Lakers. The Suns had a 33-19 lead after the first
quarter and later posted a 39-23 difference in the third. They never trailed
in the game.
Isaiah Thomas netted 23 points on 9-of-11 shooting off the bench and Marcus
Morris finished with 21. Goran Dragic, who’s expected to have another stellar
season, scored 18 points and a healthy Eric Bledsoe notched 16, as the Suns
shot 54.9 percent and sank 16-of-32 3-pointers.
Thomas and Morris each hit five 3-pointers.
“I got going a little bit, and we had fun. A good start,” Thomas said after
his Suns’ debut.
Suns forward P.J. Tucker will serve his second game of a three-game suspension
for his DUI in August. Tucker, who signed a three-year contract in July, was
sentenced on Aug. 4 to three days in jail and 11 days of home detention for an
arrest on May 10 in Scottsdale.
Tucker averaged career highs of 9.4 points and 6.5 rebounds in 81 games last
season for the Suns.
Phoenix lost three of the four games against the Spurs last season and are
only 3-12 in the past 15 meetings between the Western squads. Spurs guard
Green is the second cousin of Suns forward Gerald Green.