BOSTON — San Antonio Spurs forward Tim Duncan put on a big man clinic in the second half at TD Garden on Wednesday night, scoring 23 of his 25 points in the second half, including eight straight for his team in the fourth quarter.
Duncan’s effort was enough to lead the banged-up Spurs to a 104-92 victory over the Boston Celtics in the final game for each team before the All-Star break.
“He had a tough first half but in the second half he was a monster,” San Antonio coach Gregg Popovich said.
The Spurs, winning for the fourth time in six games on this road trip, were without point guard Tony Parker (rested), injured guard Manu Ginobili and forward Tiago Splitter.
Duncan was quiet in the first half, scoring two points and grabbing six rebounds, but then dominated. He finished with nine rebounds and led the way in the fourth quarter, when San Antonio (38-15) broke the game open with a 13-1 run.
“I think a lot of it had to do with Duncan,” Popovich said when asked about the team’s play in the fourth. “More than anything, Tim really led the way for us, as he has for 16, 17 years.”
And also he always has, Duncan was in a shrugging-it-off mood after the game.
“I just made a shot, man, there wasn’t anything different about it,” he said of the second-half turnaround. “I had the same shots in the first half but just couldn’t get them to fall. I started out in the second half the same way, finally got some of them to fall. They kept coming to me. I just put it in the hole more than anything. It wasn’t anything special, anything I changed.”
Duncan will be 38 in April.
“He changed,” said Celtics coach Brad Stevens.”He went back to being really aggressive on the blocks … he wasn’t going to be denied. And we don’t have great matchups for him. There’s not many great matchups for him when he’s going like that, in the NBA or the world.”
Popovich said he was prepared to go longer with Duncan, who is often rested, as Parker was Wednesday. With the All-Star break coming up, the coach knew the future Hall of Famer had time to rest.
“It is a very long season and we’re very banged up,” Duncan said.
Center/forward Marcus Diaw had 18 points and four assists, guard Marco Belinelli had 16 points, 11 rebounds and eight assists and guard Patty Mills came off the bench with 16 points in 20 minutes. Guard Cory Joseph, starting for Parker, had 11 points, five assists and four rebounds.
The Celtics got 16 points from point guard Rajon Rondo, while forward Kris Humphries came off the bench with 15 points and six rebounds and rookie forward Kelly Olynyk, also coming off the bench, had 15 points and 10 boards, his second straight double-double. Six Celtics finished in double figures.
Boston forward Jared Sullinger, who had six straight double-doubles entering the game, played sparingly after the midway point of the third quarter because of illness and finished with four points and seven rebounds.
Parker, Ginobili and Splitter are averaging a combined 37.9 points, 11.9 rebounds and 11.8 assists per game.
The Celtics (19-35) can use this rest, with Sullinger and Olynyk playing in the Rising Stars Challenge in New Orleans.
“I want them to get rest,” said Stevens. “If they’re dinged up, I want them to get healthy.”
NOTES: Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said he sent G Tony Parker home, but that Parker will be at the All-Star Game this weekend. “He wasn’t himself, mentally or physically,” said the coach, who was also without G Manu Ginoboli (hamstring) and C Tiago Splitter (calf contusion). Parker played less than 21 minutes at Detroit Monday night and had 11 points, three assists and one turnover. … The Spurs signed G Shannon Brown to a second 10-day contract. … The Celtics were again missing G Avery Bradley, out again (ankle) and C Vitor Faverani (knee), but F Brandon Bass played despite a corneal abrasion suffered Monday night. He had 12 points. … The Celtics come out of the break with a western trip, visiting Phoenix next Wednesday. Tuesday night, the Spurs resume their nine-game trip with a game in Los Angeles against the Clippers.