SAN ANTONIO — The San Antonio Spurs sense they are finally beginning to execute with some of the fluidity and efficiency that led to their fifth NBA championship last season.
Tim Duncan has never stopped playing at that level.
Tony Parker had 22 points and Duncan nearly had a triple double in limited minutes and San Antonio never trailed in 99-87 victory over the Brooklyn Nets on Nov. 22.
The Spurs have sputtered offensively to start the season, especially in comparison to the crisp ball movement that confounded the Miami Heat in the NBA Finals.
San Antonio has shown glimpses of that efficiency in winning four straight and seven of its last eight games.
“Tonight I thought our focus was really good,” Parker said. “It’s not easy to get back to the level that we were at last year in the Finals, but we’ll try hard. We’ve got a long time before the playoffs start.”
The Nets struggled to stay with their defensive assignments as the Spurs’ whipped the ball around the court to create space for easier jump shots and layups.
San Antonio had 16 assists on its first 20 baskets and finished with 29 assists while shooting 52 percent from the field.
Duncan led the way, as he has done throughout much of his 18-year career with the Spurs.
“We take Tim for granted half the time,” San Antonio coach Gregg Popovich said. “He is still the base of what we do. The rebounds that he gets and the shots that he blocks, he starts us there. He scores in the bottom, he shoots jumpers, and he does a little bit of everything for us.”
Duncan had seven points, 10 rebounds, seven assists, four blocked shots and three steals in 25 minutes.
He threw a three-quarters pass off a defensive rebound to Kawhi Leonard, who caught it in stride for a layup and an 18-11 lead with just under 3 minutes left in the first quarter. Duncan later fired a touch pass to Aron Baynes under the basket for an open dunk 3 minutes into the second quarter.
Brooklyn went with a smaller lineup in the second half, leading Popovich to rest Duncan for much of the second half on the second night of a back-to-back. The 38-year-old forward played the first 7 minutes of the third quarter before exiting.
The Nets cut the lead to 85-77 midway through the fourth quarter, but the Spurs responded with a 9-2 run that led Brooklyn coach Lionel Hollins to empty his bench.
“Early on we didn’t get any stops,” Hollins said. “We didn’t get any stops hardly through the course of the game. We just started scoring better in the second half.”
San Antonio won its 12th straight regular season home game over the Nets.
“It is a team you envy,” Brooklyn point guard Deron Williams said. “They have a system, the same coach and pretty much the same group of guys for a long time, and you can tell that they are comfortable playing with each other. We haven’t had that luxury, and we are trying to get to that eventually. We can hopefully that that away from the. They play the right way. They play for each other.”
Williams had 24 points and Mirza Teletovic had 22 for Brooklyn (5-8), which lost for the sixth time in seven games.
Leonard and Danny Green each had 21 points for the defending champion Spurs (9-4).