Tim Duncan did his usual damage to his opponents. It's when he starts hurting teammates that his coach gets worried.
Duncan scored 31 points, grabbed 15 rebounds and scared the Spurs when he accidentally hit David Robinson on top of the head as San Antonio cruised to a 121-98 win over the Boston Celtics on Wednesday night.
"You're concerned about anyone when he bites the dust like that," Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said.
"I got a dead feeling in my arm, but it went away pretty quick," Robinson said. "Sure, it's a little unsettling."
He played the first eight minutes of the third quarter and said he could have played more, but the lead was so large he wasn't needed after that. Robinson finished with 10 points and nine rebounds in 25 minutes.
"They physically dominated us. That is why they're world champions," Boston coach Rick Pitino said. "They're a great basketball team with a lot of answers. We're not in that kind of class."
The Celtics, out of the playoffs the past four seasons, began the game at a surprisingly strong 7-4 with a four-game winning streak. But they were no match for the Spurs despite getting 16 points from Eric Williams and 15 points from Antoine Walker.
There was little doubt the Spurs would win their third consecutive game after building a 33-20 lead after the first quarter.
"We sort of shocked them in the first quarter," said Mario Elie, who had 25 points for San Antonio. "We came out with guns blazing."
The Spurs hit 65 percent of their shots in that period and outshot the Celtics 58 to 45 percent for the game. And they found the open man, getting 35 assists as five players had at least four each.
"It was definitely our best game at both ends of the court," Popovich said.
Duncan and Elie sat out the start of the fourth quarter but returned with about seven minutes left after Boston drew within 101-83.
With the score tied 6-6, the Spurs went on a 17-6 run to take a 23-12 lead with 3:04 left in the first quarter. Walter McCarty followed with a 3-pointer for Boston, but Robinson's dunk made it 25-15 and San Antonio led by at least 10 points the rest of the way.
"We didn't do well adjusting to them," Boston's Paul Pierce said. "We let them play their half-court game instead of our full-court game."
The Spurs had their biggest lead, 96-65, after three quarters, outshooting the Celtics 62 percent to 39 percent and outrebounding them 37-23 to that point.
With the lead 97-67, the Celtics scored the next 10 points. But the closest they came after that was 106-91. Robinson watched it all from the bench.
"I started talking to him while he was on the floor and he said he was getting the feeling back in his arm," Duncan said. "I'm glad it wasn't anything serious."
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