Sunday, March 25, 2012

Spurs Update

Saturday and Sunday nights finished off the Spurs' 1st back-to-back-to-back of the season. Saturday was a quick trip to New Orleans for a bout with the shorthanded Hornets. Spurs were also very shorthanded, as Manu didn't make the trip in order to rest an aching body. Splitter is still dealing with back spasms, and Gary Neal would also sit due to a sore foot from Friday night's game. Hornets were down Okafor (knee), Kaman (illness), Ariza (ankle), and Jason Smith due to his suspension related to the cheap shot against Blake Griffin.

The good news is Tony Parker is back. I expected this to be the game somewhat like the game @ Portland a few weeks back (a 40-pt. loss), when Pop sat Tony & Tim while Manu & Splitter were hurt. But to my surprise, Duncan would also play. The contest began OK for the Spurs, as DeJuan Blair came out like a monster possessed, but then again, he tends to have good games vs. NO. He would total 23 & 7 for this one. It remained close throughout the first half, but we trailed by a handful for most of the late 2nd-Q. Up by 1 after 1-Q, but down by 1 at half.. 23-22, and 48-47 respectively.

Image Source (Photo by Layne Murdoch/NBAE via Getty Images)

Neither team were shot very well throughout, in fact Spurs finished with a lowly 2 of 19 from three range (ouch!), and totaled 40% overall. Hornets did better at 46%, but was 1 of 5 from three. And if it weren't for 16 NO TO's (compared with our 7), this one would've probably been much worse.

Defenses tightened up for the 4th-Q, and only 30 total points were scored. We would take a 5-pt. lead with 5 min.s to go, but Belinelli would give the Hornets the 84-83 lead with 2:06 left. Duncan would hit two clutch FTs before Belinelli put them ahead once again 86-85. But after Duncan made a tip-in (87-86), followed by a great defensive stop on Jarrett Jack (who led all scorers with 27), it was Danny Green's clutch baseline jumper that put us ahead 87-84. Green would then miss the only two FTs the Spurs would miss all night in an attempt to seal it, giving the Hornets the last shot with :02 left. It was defended well, and Belinelli came up short - we snuck out of the hive with the 89-86 WIN. Whew!


Sunday night back at home vs. the Philadelphia 76ers, Manu would return to the lineup, but Timmy would sit. With Tiago & Neal both still out, we would obviously have to "go small" for most of this one. Here is the way described Timmy's absence in their boxscore:

So, I guess as long as they don't play Hawes & Vucevic together, we should be OK. Holiday and Meeks came out hot, combining for 12 of the first 16 Sixers' points. Kawhi and Bonner were, however, making their presence known as well, as we jumped out to a 29-22 1st-Q lead.
Image Source

Heck, newly acquired PG Justin Dentmon even scored his first Spurs' points for the home crowd early on.

After falling behind 29-18 late in the 1st-Q, the Sixers would then go on an 18-1 run to take the lead 36-30. Sam Young and Lou Williams were key contributors. This sparked a 10-0 run of our own, led by 6 from Blair, and a three from Danny Green. The score at the half was 52-49, San Antonio.

In comparison with the previous game in New Orleans, this contest saw 26 steals and 39 turnovers! So obviously play looked a little sloppy, but both these teams are super on defense. Nevertheless, it was mid-3rd-Q when we turned on the gas. Tony & Manu came to life, while rarely playing together. We started sharing the basketball better, and ran out to an 11-pt. lead after 3-Qs (76-65). We didn't stop, though. A lot of the scoring "wave" was tempered, but we kept the pressure on defensively to the tone of a 21-pt. lead with just under 6 min. left (88-67). SO yeah, that's another 20-4 run since late third-Q.

They would close to within 14, but didn't have enough, as we held on for the impressive 93-76 WIN against the team who allows the fewest points per game in the NBA. Six guys in double-figures.. Responded to the terrible 3-pt. shooting the night
Image Source (AP Photo/Eric Gay)

before by hitting 7 (of 28, so more work to do), and we hung with them on the boards. Kawhi Leonard had a super game with 11 points and 10 boards. Tony had 21 & 7 assists, and Blair had 19 & 6 boards..

Yeah we just went W-W-W in 3 nights, like only 4 teams have done during this compacted season! Spurs have now won 7 of 8, improving to a 33-14 record, still 2nd in the West, 2 losses behind the Thunder. Now we have to go on the road again to Phoenix & Sacramento back-to-back Tues. & Wed. to complete our 5 games in 6 days (and 6 in 8), before coming home for some rest and a meeting with a good Indiana team (and George Hill) Saturday.

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