San Antonio coach Gregg Popovich has been monitoring Duncan’s minutes, and rested the 13-year veteran in a 109-108 overtime victory over Oklahoma City on Wednesday. Duncan returned Friday, but was held to 10 points in 92-76 loss at Charlotte - the Spurs’ lowest scoring game of the season.
Duncan, who had not had a day off since November before Wednesday, had averaged 21.6 points and shot 58.0 percent in his previous seven games. He was 4 of 12 from the field against the Bobcats, and wasn’t alone in struggling.
Richard Jefferson(notes), who was averaging 13.2 points, was held to only eight, and the Spurs shot 38.8 percent while blowing a four-point halftime lead as Charlotte went on a 19-2 run spanning the third and fourth quarters.
San Antonio (24-14) had averaged 105.2 points and shot 51.5 percent over its previous five games.
“It’s a typical Larry Brown team,” Popovich said. “Just tenacious, physical, pressure defense. Creating turnovers, creating offense out of turnovers. You knew it coming in. But we reacted poorly to it.”
Friday marked only the third time this season Duncan has scored fewer than 10 points. The last time Oct. 31 was when he tallied seven against Sacramento— he scored 15 in the next game five days later at Utah.
The two-time MVP is averaging 23.2 points against the Grizzlies, the second-highest mark of his career against any opposing team, trailing only Orlando (23.7 ppg).
Duncan and the Spurs now will try to win their sixth straight over the Grizzlies. They have been victorious in their last two visits to Memphis, but extending that streak could be difficult as the Grizzlies continued their winning ways at FedEx Forum with a 135-110 rout of Minnesota on Friday.
Six players scored in double figures and three finished with at least 20, including Zach Randolph(notes), who had 20 and 12 rebounds in just under 30 minutes. The Grizzlies (20-18) shot 58.5 percent and connected on 11 3-pointers.
The win was the Grizzlies’ third in four games overall and 10th in 13 contests. Memphis opened up a tight game with a 40-point third quarter, allowing the team to rest its starters in the fourth ahead of a much tougher opponent.
Randolph continued his outstanding play despite playing his fewest minutes since November. After splitting time with New York and the Los Angeles Clippers last season, Randolph is averaging 24.5 points and 14.1 rebounds in the last 13 games.
In 21 career matchups against the Spurs, though, Randolph has put up 14.2 points and 6.9 rebounds per game.