Spurs commence road trip against Celtics

(SportsNetwork.com) - The San Antonio Spurs will kick off a four-game road trip Sunday against the Boston Celtics at TD Garden.

The Spurs will also visit Philadelphia, Brooklyn and Memphis, and are 5-3 away from the Alamo City.

San Antonio is riding a six-game winning streak and is moving up the Southwest ladder with an 11-4 mark. The defending NBA champions recorded a 112-104 triumph over the Sacramento Kings on Friday and Tony Parker scored a game-high 27 points on 10-of-17 shooting.

"Tony today was fantastic, well in the previous game, too," San Antonio guard Manu Ginobili said. "He has been great. He has had a couple ups-and-downs, but of course he is the player we need to play like that to have a chance. We count on him, and when he is that involved and he is passing the ball like that, for everybody it is a very good thing."

Parker is shooting .667 percent (16-24) from beyond the arc, which now stands as the highest percentage in league history through the first 15 games with at least 15 makes.

Kawhi Leonard and Tim Duncan scored 19 and 18 points, respectively, for the Spurs, who shot 51.2 percent and hit 12-of-24 3-pointers. Leonard made four of his six 3-point attempts to go with eight rebounds and four blocks.

The Spurs, who are first in opponents' scoring at 92.7 ppg, outscored the Kings 52-36 in the paint and head coach Gregg Popovich missed a second straight game after undergoing a minor medical procedure. Assistant coach Ettore Messina took his place again.

Boston and San Antonio are two storied franchises in NBA lore, and Celtics guard Rajon Rondo respects what Sunday's opponent brings to the table.

"I think that one key that's underrated is their chemistry," Rondo said of the Spurs. "Having guys, that core, together for so long ... it's big. You get a bunch of new guys that don't have too much chemistry, it's tough to repeat over and over again, but that organization has done a great job of keeping those guys together."

Rondo is the leader of the Celtics and is first in the league with 10.6 assists per game. Rondo had eight points, nine assists and seven rebounds in Friday's 109-102 loss to the Chicago Bulls, while Jared Sullinger posted 23 points and 10 boards.

"We had a lot of open shots that didn't fall in the fourth," Sullinger said.

Boston made only 5-of-26 shots in the final stanza.

"I'm not going to lose any sleep over the ball not going into the basket," Celtics coach Brad Stevens said. "We've got to finish. That's the bottom line."

Avery Bradley scored 18 points for the Celtics, losers in three straight and six of the last seven games. Brandon Bass (16), Evan Turner (13) and Jeff Green (10) rounded out the double-digit scorers.

Celtics rookie guard Marcus Smart hopes to return soon and his injured left ankle is still "tender," according to Stevens.

"He's done his rehab diligently and he's done it well," Stevens said Wednesday. "He's stuck to the game plan as far as coming in here multiple times a day and going above and beyond. So he's doing what he's supposed to do, and this is the appropriate time frame (for his return)."

The Celtics are allowing 107.3 points, but are scoring 104.5 ppg.

The Celtics are in the midst of playing six of seven games at home and lost both games against San Antonio last season. The Spurs have won the last five meetings between the teams and are 17-3 in the last 20 trips to Beantown.