“It just shows what we’re capable of as a team,” Johnson said.
The Celtics’ projected starting five of Kemba Walker, Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown, Marcus Smart and Daniel Theis played together for the first time this season. Tatum had 25 points, Brown added 24, and Smart and Walker had 14 apiece.
Their balanced output was not enough as Boston had its two-game winning streak end.
“It’s been an interesting season,” Brown said. “We’ve had guys out, guys hurt. We are just trying to put everything together. Tonight wasn’t our best night.”
The Spurs have defeated the Los Angeles Lakers, Clippers and now the Celtics, but have struggled with allowing big leads early and also with giving away leads late. Both happened Wednesday against the Celtics.
“We held on,” DeRozan said. “They made a run. We weren’t scared by it.”
After DeRozan hit a pair of free throws to give the Spurs a 103-101 lead, Theis’ dunk tied the game with 40 seconds remaining. After San Antonio regained the lead on DeRozan’s eight-foot jumper, Murray had a breakaway dunk off a steal to give the Spurs a 107-103 lead.
“Big-time players make big-time plays,” Johnson said. “DeRozan made a clutch shot and DJ made a clutch play and dunk.”
The Spurs rallied after giving up a double-digit lead in the second half.
San Antonio made 14 of its last 15 shots in the first half during a 29-6 run. Lonnie Walker IV had nine points in the run and closed with 14 points.
A pair of 3-pointers by Aldridge tied the game and gave the Spurs their first lead at 46-43 since the opening seconds of the game.
Three days after setting a season high for points in the third quarter against Cleveland, Boston came within four points of matching the mark in outscoring San Antonio 37-21 to open the second half. Tatum and Brown combined for 22 points in the quarter.
“The zone kind of threw us out of our rhythm,” DeRozan said.
San Antonio had a season-high 20 turnovers, including five during Boston’s 13-1 run to close the third.
“It hasn’t been our problem this year, but tonight it was,” Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said.
Celtics: Boston played its second game against the West and first since beating Memphis 126-107 on Dec. 30. … Boston is 5-3 when using a starting lineup of Tatum, Brown, Smart, Theis and Tristan Thompson. … Boston is 0-3 this season when it trails entering the second half.
Spurs: Popovich said starting guard Derrick White will return this weekend after missing 13 straight games. White fractured his left second toe in his season debut after sitting out the preseason and the team’s first four games following surgery on the same toe for a different injury. “He had contact again today. We’re just being conservative, I guess,” Popovich said. “He probably could go out there tonight. He wants to go out there tonight. We opted to wait until the weekend. You’ll see him this weekend.” … Aldridge joined Dallas Mavericks forward Dirk Nowitzki as the only players in league history with 19,000 points, 8,000 rebounds, 1,000 blocks and 200 3-pointers.
Celtics: Host the Los Angeles Lakers on Saturday.
Spurs: Host the Denver Nuggets on Friday.
- Kevin Scott
- Aaron Smith
- Nate Green