Spurs clinch postseason berth with 29th straight home win
SAN ANTONIO (AP) A month away from home did little to slow the San Antonio Spurs.
Kawhi Leonard scored 27 points and LaMarcus Aldridge added 23 points and 10 rebounds as the Spurs beat the Detroit Pistons 97-81 on Wednesday night to clinch their 19th straight playoff berth.
''(Kawhi) and LaMarcus were really offensive juggernauts for us,'' San Antonio coach Gregg Popovich said. ''They did a great job.''
San Antonio won its 29th straight home game to open the season in its first game following a month-long road trip brought on by the San Antonio Stock Show and Rodeo.
The Spurs (51-9) joined the Golden State Warriors (54-5) as the only teams to clinch spots in the postseason.
The Spurs did not know and did not care about making the playoffs.
''Not really,'' Aldridge said. ''It's not about that. This is my first year here, but even for me it's not about that. I think we have a bigger picture in mind.''
Leonard and Aldridge excelled against a Detroit team thinned by injuries to forwards Anthony Tolliver and Stanley Johnson. They combined to shoot 23 for 38 from the field with Leonard scoring 17 points in the first half and Aldridge putting up 15 in the final two quarters.
''They were playing well, so we kept giving them the ball,'' Spurs point guard Tony Parker said.
Marcus Morris and Tobias Harris had 16 points each for the Pistons (31-30), who had a four-game winning streak snapped.
Aldridge and Tim Duncan held Detroit center Andre Drummond to nine points and 14 rebounds, ending his career-high and the league's season-high of consecutive double-doubles at 13 straight.
Drummond had six points in the first half as Detroit had 14 assists on its 22 baskets. That ball movement ended at halftime as the Pistons had just five assists in a 30-point second half.
''The ball just stuck,'' said Detroit point guard Reggie Jackson, who had 11 points and three assists. ''The ball stuck and they're the best defensive team in the league, so they made us pay for not really making them work. They got out in transition and they just played ball.''
Aldridge, Duncan and Parker knocked down a series of mid-range jumpers in scoring four points each in a 12-2 run beginning early in the third quarter. Aldridge had 13 points in the quarter, coming within a point of matching Detroit's total in the period as San Antonio built a double-digit lead for the first time in the game.
Duncan had 12 points and eight rebounds and Parker finished with 10 points and four assists.
''We just quit moving the ball in the second half,'' Detroit coach Stan Van Gundy said. ''We weren't ready to play to start the third quarter. They came out with a lot more energy.''
Marcus Morris and Tobias Harris had 16 points each for the Pistons (31-30).
Pistons: G Kentavious Caldwell-Pope was held to four points after scoring a team-high 25 in their previous meeting with the Spurs on Jan. 12. ... Former Spurs F Aron Baynes was cheered loudly when he entered the game. It was Baynes' first game in San Antonio since signing with the Pistons following two seasons with the Spurs. . Drummond leads the league with 51 double-doubles.
Spurs: San Antonio has won 38 straight home games dating back to March 2015, which is a franchise record along with their home winning streak to start this season. . The Spurs will play in their 19th straight postseason, tying the Boston Celtics (1951-69) for the fourth longest streak in league history.
Veteran PG Andre Miller received a rousing ovation when he entered the game with a minute remaining in the third quarter for San Antonio. Miller signed with the Spurs on Sunday following a buyout with the Minnesota Timberwolves.
''It felt pretty good,'' Miller said of the ovation. ''At least they respect me from the other teams I have played on.''
Miller did not score, but had two rebounds and two assists in seven minutes.
Spurs guard Manu Ginobili said he is pain free and will return next week after missing a month following testicle surgery. Ginobili was injured Feb. 3 when he was struck in the groin by a knee from New Orleans forward Ryan Anderson, who had spun into the lane and rose for a short jumper. Ginobili underwent surgery that evening and has missed 11 games.
San Antonio initially said Ginobili would be out four to six weeks, but the 38-year-old veteran surprised the team by recovering quicker than anticipated.
''I'm not stunned like a catfish getting hit in the head or anything like that,'' Popovich said. ''I am surprised.''
Pistons: At New York on Saturday night.
Spurs: At New Orleans on Thursday night.