SAN ANTONIO (AP) — Gregg Popovich readily admits he hates the 3-point shot, yet the San Antonio Spurs’ defensive-minded coach acknowledges it’s a necessary evil in today’s game.
San Antonio gave Popovich plenty to dislike in its most prolific 3-point outing of the season.
DeMar DeRozan had 29 points, LaMarcus Aldridge had 25 points and 12 rebounds and the Spurs hit a season-high 18 3-pointers in beating the Detroit Pistons 136-109 on Saturday night.
“That’s what the league is all about,” Popovich said. “Opening up the paint so you get penetration and you kick it and everybody shoots 3s. Boring, but that’s the game.”
San Antonio was 18 for 35 from 3-point range, including a career-high five by Aldridge. The Spurs were a shot shy of tying their season-high for 3-point attempts and shot 57% from the field in securing their largest victory at home.
San Antonio was averaging 26 3-point attempts entering Saturday’s game, and is trying more long-range shots. It has helped the Spurs win seven of their last 12 games.
“It’s not like me and LaMarcus are (Milwaukee’s) Kyle Korver and (former Dallas forward) Dirk Nowitzki,” DeRozan said. “We just try to go out there and make the most of it, make the best out of it and I think we are getting a better feel with that.”
Andre Drummond had 21 points and 18 rebounds for the short-handed Pistons, who played with an 11-man roster due to injuries and illness.
“There is nothing you can do about that when a good team like this gets it going,” Drummond said. “It’s hard to stop them, especially a team like San Antonio, who is known for playing really well. If they are hitting on all cylinders from the 3, too, it’s going to be a long night.”
San Antonio set a season-high with 42 points in the third quarter, fueled by a 25-9 run beginning four minutes into the second half. The Spurs opened a 93-71 lead, capped by four straight 3-pointers by Bryn Forbes and Derrick White and two from Rudy Gay.
“I thought we competed hard until that time and then the avalanche hit and the resilience, we didn’t bounce back,” Pistons coach Dwane Casey said. “That was the disappointing thing.”
Gay finished with 16 points and 2-for-6 shooting on 3s. Forbes finished with 18 points on 3-for-5 shooting on 3s. Aldridge finished 5 for 6 on 3s.
“It’s how the league is going and people like me and (Aldridge) have to just learn how to space the floor and help the team out that way,” Gay said. “You have to get into the lane, pass the ball to 3-point shooters and keep the defense honest. That’s what we’ve been trying to do.”
San Antonio raced to a 10-point lead in the first quarter only to lose that advantage in the second quarter while committing nine turnovers.
Drummond had 15 points and 12 rebounds in the first half, helping cut the Spurs’ lead to 59-54 at the half.
Pistons forward Blake Griffin had 12 points and two rebounds in 29 minutes.
Pistons: Detroit’s last victory in San Antonio was Jan. 6, 2015. … Drummond, who was listed as probable with a bruised left calf, played 37 minutes. … The Pistons had five players out with injury or illness. … Shooting guard Luke Kennard missed his third straight game with a sore knee. … Markieff Morris sat out with a sprained left foot after playing nine minutes against Washington on Thursday.
Spurs: DeRozan has 20-plus points in 400 career games. The only players with more 20-point outings since DeRozan was drafted in 2009 are LeBron James, Kevin Durant, James Harden, Russell Westbrook, Stephen Curry, Carmelo Anthony and Aldridge … Aldridge’s previous career high for 3-pointers was three against Memphis on Monday. … San Antonio’s previous high was 40 points in the third quarter against Golden State on Nov. 1.
SHOOT MORE, SHINE MORE
Aldridge has attempted 13 3-pointers in his past three games, which has pleased Popovich, somewhat.
“We want him to shoot those,” Popovich said. “If he shoots 10 a game, that’s fine with me. How many did he shoot?”
After being told Aldridge attempted six, Popovich was asked if that was enough to satisfy him.
“He’s got to get more selfish,” Popovich deadpanned. “Shoot that damn thing. Get your name in the paper.”
PRAISE FOR Z-BO
Zach Randolph announced his retirement Saturday morning after 19 seasons in the NBA, primarily spent in the Western Conference with Portland and Memphis.
Randolph had numerous battles with the Spurs, especially in the postseason. His most memorable was helping Memphis oust San Antonio in the first round of the 2011 playoffs as the Grizzlies became just the fourth No. 8 seed in league history to beat the top seed.
Those battles drew the respect and praise of San Antonio coach Gregg Popovich.
“He was a guy who really had great hands, a great skill to rebound and a great skill to catch and work underneath the bucket, very different from most anybody else,” Popovich said. “He always brought it. He was aggressive and he competed every night.”
Pistons: At Utah on Monday night.
Spurs: Host Golden State on Tuesday night.
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