SAN ANTONIO - San Antonio coach Gregg Popovich had to use some colorful language to explain to the Spurs at halftime that their lack of aggression was troubling him.
The Spurs responded with their highest-scoring quarter in 25 years.
LaMarcus Aldridge scored 32 points and San Antonio rode a 46-point third quarter to a 120-111 victory over the Boston Celtics on Monday night.
DeMar DeRozan, who had 13 points and 10 assists, said the Spurs were “cussed out by Pop” at halftime after shooting 22 percent in the first quarter.
“We were playing really tentative, real indecisive, hesitating, wasn’t being aggressive,” DeRozan said. “The whole dynamic of us, our aggression, changed. We just got out (in the second half) and played like we’ve been playing.”
Derrick White had a career-high 22 points for San Antonio, which has won 11 of 13 to close within four games of the top spot in the Western Conference.
The Spurs made 19 of 25 shots (76 percent) in the third quarter and finished with its best period since 1993. It was their 12th-highest output of any quarter in franchise history and second-highest in the third.
The hosts opened the game 1-for-6 from the field and shot 22 percent in the opening period while scoring a season-low 17 points in the first quarter. Boston shot better from 3-point range (35 percent) than San Antonio did from the field (33 percent) in the first half.
Jaylen Brown had a season-high 30 points, but Boston was unable to maintain its first-half advantage.
“Seemed like they were just waiting in the weeds,” said Kyrie Irving, who had 16 points and eight assists. “I’m pretty sure Pop got in their rear ends and really told them play hard or you’re not stepping on the floor and you just see that maximum level just go up and our level just stayed the same.”
Irving suffered a scratched cornea in both eyes during a collision with Marco Belinelli with 7:22 remaining in the game. Irving exited to the locker room but returned to the bench and game a couple minutes later. Boston coach Brad Stevens was unsure of Irving’s status for Wednesday’s home game against Minnesota.
“I’m wearing sunglasses, so not too good,” Irving said when asked how he felt, “but it’ll be all right though.”
Still, Irving was more upset with the pounding the Spurs put on the Celtics. San Antonio attacked the paint in the second half with brawny Boston post Aron Baynes out due to a fractured finger.
Aldridge finished scored 12 points in the third quarter and 17 in the second half. He finished 13-for-23 from the field along with nine rebounds, five assists and two blocked shots.
“He’s been a beast, without a doubt,” Popovich said.
Rockets 113, Grizzlies 101
In Houston, James Harden had 43 points, 10 rebounds and 13 assists in his fourth straight 40-point game, leading the Rockets over Memphis for their fifth consecutive victory.
Harden set an NBA record with his eighth straight game with at least 35 points and five assists, besting Oscar Robertson, who twice had seven-game streaks. Harden finished with his fourth triple-double this season and 39th overall.
Houston has won 10 of its last 11 to improve to 21-15.
Warriors 132, Suns 109
In Phoenix, Stephen Curry scored 34 points and Kevin Durant added 25, leading Golden State over Phoenix.
The Warriors beat the Suns for the 17th straight time, including eight in a row in Phoenix.
Golden State was 14 for 28 on 3-pointers, with Curry going 5 of 9.
Deandre Ayton had 25 points and 10 rebounds for the Suns, who have lost five of six.
Hornets 125, Magic 100
In Charlotte, Kemba Walker had 24 points in just 27 minutes, and the Hornets Orlando for the 13th straight time.
Walker had 20 points on 8-of-11 shooting in the first half and did not play in the fourth quarter. Malik Monk added 21 points as the Hornets put six players in double figures in the easy victory over the Magic and Steve Clifford, who coached Charlotte for five seasons.
Pacers 116, Hawks 108
In Indianapolis, Victor Oladipo scored 22 points while Domantas Sabonis and Myles Turner each added 20 to lead the hosts past Atlanta.
Indiana has won five straight and 12 of 14 to became the third team in the league with 25 wins this season.
John Collins finished with 22 points and 16 rebounds to lead Atlanta.
Pelicans 123, Timberwolves 114
In New Orleans, Julius Randle had 33 points and 11 rebounds, Darius Miller scored 13 of his 21 points in the fourth quarter, and the Pelicans overcame Anthony Davis’ absence.
Miller hits five 3s, his last from the left wing to put the Pelicans up 115-109 with 1:12 to go.
Jrue Holiday had 26 points and E’Twaun Moore scored 17 for the Pelicans, who found out shortly before tip-off that Davis was too ill to play.
Minnesota’s Karl-Anthony Towns finished with 28 points and 17 rebounds scoring 10 of his points during a tight fourth quarter before fouling out with 12.5 seconds left.
Thunder 122, Mavericks 102
In Oklahoma City, Russell Westbrook had 32 points, 11 rebounds and 11 assists, and the Thunder gained a split of their back-to-back against Dallas.
Paul George added 22 points and Jerami Grant had 16 for the Thunder, who had dropped three of their last four games. That included a 105-103 loss at Dallas on Sunday, when Oklahoma City blew a six-point lead in the final 1:59 and Westbrook went 4 of 22 from the field and scored only nine points.
Dallas committed 29 turnovers, the most ever by a Thunder opponent.
Harrison Barnes led Dallas with 25 points, matching his career high with seven 3-pointers in nine attempts, and Luka Doncic had 17 points.