A surprising "first" for Tim Duncan and the Spurs

933637.jpg

A surprising "first" for Tim Duncan and the Spurs

From Comcast SportsNetSAN ANTONIO (AP) -- The San Antonio Spurs have won four NBA championships, made 32 playoff appearances and captured 18 division titles in their 40-year history.Yet for all their success, they had never opened a season with four straight victories.Tim Duncan, Tony Parker and the Spurs finally did so Monday night, rolling past the Indiana Pacers 101-79 to remain unbeaten."I'm surprised we're still doing records," Parker said. "It seems like we did everything, but that's another one. That's great."It's an unprecedented start for San Antonio, albeit one that left players scratching their heads."It's just a stat, not that important in the long-term," Manu Ginobili said. "(But) at this point we are enjoying it. It's curious that a team this successful hasn't started that well before."The Spurs upended the Pacers (2-2) with what has become a familiar formula in recent years -- a little Parker, a little Duncan and a lot off the bench.Gary Neal scored 17 points, DeJuan Blair 14 and Stephen Jackson 12 to pace San Antonio's reserves. The Spurs outscored the Pacers' bench 57-35."That's kind of been our motto," Neal said. "With Manu coming off and Stephen Jackson, those guys could be starting on any team in the NBA. We are a deep team. We've just got to maintain effort when the bench comes in."Duncan added 14 points and 11 rebounds, and Parker finished with six points, seven assists and only one turnover.Former Spurs guard George Hill led Indiana with 15 points. Paul George added 14 points and David West had 10.The Spurs needed a boost from their bench after a sluggish start.Both teams aggressively defended the point early, resulting in a combined 4-for-16 shooting from the field in the first 5 minutes.The Spurs then scored nine straight points to take a 14-9 lead after sharing the ball more. Boris Diaw capped the run with a layup off a bounce pass from Parker with 5 minutes left in the first quarter.Parker later fed a cutting Ginobili, who made a tip pass to Blair for a layup with 1 second left in the first quarter for a 26-18 lead."We moved the ball well," Ginobili said. "Gary was impressive today. But yeah, we changed the tempo of the game. We did good -- much better than the last game."Parker had three of the team's seven assists in the first quarter.Parker sat for 9 minutes in the second period after playing the entire first. With the All-Star point guard on the bench, Jackson and Neal combined for nine points in an 11-0 run that gave the Spurs a 37-18 lead to open the second.Indiana did not surpass 20 points until West dunked off an offensive rebound with 7 minutes left in the first half.West kept the Pacers in contention, scoring all 10 of his points in the second quarter while going 4 for 5 from the field. His 23-foot jumper cut San Antonio's lead to 47-38 at halftime.The Spurs maintained a double-digit lead for nearly all of the second half.The Pacers shot just 35 percent for the game. San Antonio forced 14 turnovers in the second half."Their continuity is evident just watching them play," Indiana coach Frank Vogel said. "Thirteen of their 14 guys were here last year and their core guys have been here for many years winning championships. It's a system they are familiar with. They are a well-oiled machine and they play extremely hard on both sides of the court."NOTES:Indiana forward Danny Granger missed his fourth game with a sore left knee. Granger is out indefinitely. ... Former Indiana Pacers point guard Haywoode Workman was among the game officials. Workman played for the Pacers from 1993-99 and spent parts of four other seasons with three other clubs. His final season in the NBA was 2000 with the Toronto Raptors. ... Hill received a loud ovation during pregame introductions. ... Parker went flying over the first row of courtside seats while chasing down a loose ball in the second half. He landed partially on Ed Whitacre, bending the eyeglass frame of the former CEO of General Motors and AT&T.

Julien: 'A lot of problematic things' in Bruins loss to Avalanche

Julien: 'A lot of problematic things' in Bruins loss to Avalanche

BOSTON – The Bruins simply weren’t ready to play on Thursday night when the puck was dropped against the Colorado Avalanche at TD Garden. 

They fell down quickly by a 2-0 score, had a couple of completely inept power plays in the first period that sucked all the game’s momentum away from them and received some subpar goaltending from Anton Khudobin on the way to a 4-2 loss to the lowly Avs. About the only B’s person above reproach in this one was David Pastrnak after scoring a pair of goals in the second period to get Boston back into the game, but it all fell short in a very frustrating, lackadaisical loss to a Western Conference team that isn’t very good. 

MORE: 

Needless to say B’s coach Claude Julien wasn’t too happy after a loss where the Bruins might have had more success with a smarter approach to holding the puck. 

“There were a lot of problematic things [in the loss]. No doubt that the power play could have helped us in the first period, and failed to do that. They’ve got to be better,” said Julien. “We needed some saves tonight, and we didn’t get them. [Anton Khudobin] has got to be better. 

“A lot of things here that we can be better at, and take responsibility [for]. But at the same time, you got to move on here.  It’s one of those nights that had we been smarter from the get go, we would have had a chance.”

Clearly it was about a lacking group effort when dissecting the loss, and the minus-3 for David Krejci on Thursday night marked back-to-back negative performances from the playmaking Czech center in big spots. The goaltending was shoddy with Anton Khudobin allowing four goals on 22 shots for Colorado, and unable to make plays on a couple of Colorado shots from outside the painted area that built up the Avs lead in the first place. 

But it was also very much about the inability of the Bruins to generate consistent offense outside of David Pastrnak’s offensive burst in the second period, and the complete breakdown of the Boston power play in the opening 20 minutes. The Bruins struggled to enter the zone in their first PP possession of the game, and then allowed a Nathan MacKinnon shorthanded goal after Torey Krug futilely dove at the blue line to try and keep the puck in the offensive zone. 

The Krug misplay at the offensive blue line gave MacKinnon a clear path the net, and he buried a wrist shot past Khudobin to get the one-sided loss rolling. Beyond the costly mistakes that ended up in the back of the net, the Bruins looked sloppy and slow-reacting in their breakouts and more than willing to settle for outside perimeter shots.

That doesn’t exactly make for a winning combo even when it comes against a flawed, underachieving team like Colorado, and especially when it comes less than 24 hours after a hard-fought road game in Washington DC. 

“I think we were still sleeping there early in the game and they were able to capitalize on their opportunities. We couldn’t claw our way back,” said Brad Marchand, who picked up an assist on David Pastrnak’s second goal of the night on a perfect dish for the one-timer. “I think it was definitely a mental [block]. You’re able to battle through that physical fatigue. It was more the mental mistakes and not being prepared right off the hop of the start of the game. Again, that’s kind of where we lost it.”

The sleepwalking Bruins lost Thursday night’s valuable two points as soon as the opening puck was dropped against the Avalanche, of course, and the Bruins never got out of lollygag mode at a time when intensity should have been automatic. 

THURSDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL: Chiefs hold off Raiders 21-13 to take control of AFC West

raiders_chiefs_derek_carr_120816.jpg

THURSDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL: Chiefs hold off Raiders 21-13 to take control of AFC West

KANSAS CITY, Mo. - Tyreek Hill had touchdowns receiving and on a punt return, Kansas City's defense made life miserable for Oakland quarterback Derek Carr, and the Chiefs beat the Raiders 21-13 on a frigid Thursday night to take control of the AFC West.

Charcandrick West also had a touchdown run for the Chiefs (10-3). They moved into a first-place tie with Oakland (10-3) but holds the tiebreaker with two wins over their longtime divisional rival.

Click here for the complete story