SAN ANTONIO — The San Antonio Spurs turned to their most tenured veteran to fight off the youthful energy of the Boston Celtics.
Tony Parker had 16 points, including 10 in the final period, and the Spurs played their second consecutive solid home game in beating the Celtics 108-101 on Wednesday night.
“Tony made it a point that he wanted to finish the game out,” Boston guard Avery Bradley said. “You could tell. You could see it in his eyes, you could see it in his play. Every time he got the ball he was aggressive. He was either making a play for himself or making a play for his teammates.”
After entering the NBA as an 18-year-old rookie in 2001, Parker is now in his 16th season, all with the Spurs. The 34-year-old point guard has slowed, but he showed flashes of his old self against the Celtics.
Parker was 8 for 15 from the field, including a turn-back-the-clock, teardrop floater in the first quarter over a hard-charging Amir Johnson after crossing over Marcus Smart. Parker also hit an 18-foot fall-away jumper off his left heel that gave San Antonio a 96-85 lead.
“It was just one of those situations,” Parker said. “It was kind of like they were coming back, and (Spurs coach Gregg Popovich) is the boss, I just try to do whatever he wants. Just put me in that situation. I’m just happy they went in.”
Parker’s second straight game in double figures backed up Kawhi Leonard’s 26 points.
Pau Gasol added 17 points and 13 rebounds for San Antonio, which has won three straight at the AT&T Center after dropping three of its first four at home. The Spurs (20-5) are 7-4 at home after matching an NBA record with a 40-1 mark last season.
“I thought the ball movement was a little more aggressive tonight,” Popovich said. “We communicated pretty well defensively. The ball moved. The ball moved better than it has at home all year.”
After collecting a season-high 38 assists in Saturday’s home win over Brooklyn, the Spurs had 33 assists on 44 field goals against the Celtics while shooting 55 percent from the field.
“It’s too early to say that we’ve turned the corner, but it’s a good sign,” said Manu Ginobili, who is in his 15th season with the Spurs.
Ginobili finished with 12 points and four assists.
Boston was without injured leading scorer Isaiah Thomas. San Antonio rested starting power forward LaMarcus Aldridge, and both teams showed off their depth.
David Lee, who started in place of Aldridge, had eight points and 10 rebounds.
Bradley had 25 points and 10 assists for the Celtics, and Boston got 34 points from its bench.
The Celtics outscored San Antonio 18-4 to pull to 74-73 with a minute left in the third quarter, but San Antonio came out on top in a game of big runs to win its 11th straight over Boston.
“They are tremendous at maximizing every detail of the game,” Celtics coach Brad Stevens said. “We have had our moments where we play really well, but we’re not as good as them at that.”
Celtics: Gerald Green was a late scratch after tweaking his left hip Tuesday in practice while playing 1-on-1. Green’s status changed when he experienced soreness in the hip Wednesday morning. “He went through all the practice, felt pretty good, didn’t feel good this morning,” Stevens said. … Boston is 3-7 against the Western Conference this season, including 1-4 against the Southwest Division. … Smart started his ninth game, including his third at point guard in place of Thomas. The Celtics are 4-5 with Smart starting at small forward or shooting guard.
Spurs: Aldridge was rested for the second time this season, initially sitting out Oct. 30 in a 94-87 win at Dallas. “He’s a little banged up,” Popovich explained. “A little back-to-back, a little bit of rest, a little bit of everything.” … Aldridge, Parker, Gasol and Ginobili have missed a combined eight games for rest this season. Ginobili has sat out three times. … Lee is the 88th player in NBA history with 10,000 career points and 7,000 rebounds. … San Antonio is 11-2 against Eastern Conference teams.
San Antonio will retire Tim Duncan’s jersey during a postgame ceremony Sunday, but Parker is already feeling nostalgic about his longtime teammate.
After teaming with Dewayne Dedmon on an alley-oop, Parker couldn’t help but recall all the times he did the same with Duncan. Or maybe Parker was getting an early dig in at Duncan.
“The last time I had a guy who could jump like that was Tim Duncan for the lobs. We’ve been missing that,” Parker said, attempting to stifle a laugh about Duncan’s lack of leaping ability. “Missing the Timmy lobs, Dewayne is fulfilling the job.”
Stevens expects Thomas to play Friday at home against Charlotte.
“I have not spoken to him directly, but via others and text, he feels really good and the goal is to play Friday,” Stevens said.
The 5-foot-9 guard has missed four straight games with a strained left groin he initially injured Dec. 5 at Houston. Boston is 1-3 without Thomas.
Mavericks: Host Charlotte on Friday.
Spurs: At Phoenix on Thursday.