Sunday, April 22, 2012

Spurs Update

Wednesday night, the Spurs wrapped-up their second B2B2B of the season vs. the Kings in Sacramento, but they would do it without Tim Duncan (resting). I'm a little surprised at this decision by Pop, but I'm also happy that he's allowing Tony & Manu to go. So rather than Timmy & Tiago, DeJuan Blair would reclaim his usual starting slot back, along with Boris Diaw. As one would expect out of a team who has been playing SO many games lately, we came out a little flat & lazy. But the defense was there, and the shots started to fall. As soon as Manu entered the game at about the 7 minute mark, his impact was instant. We would go from down-4 to up-1 during his 5 minutes on the floor, and it was a tight 29-28 game after 1-Q.

The contest would stay pretty tight throughout the 2nd-Q, as our bench was shooting well, and the Kings' crowd was feeding their high intensity. It's hard to believe this team hasn't won more than 20 games, actually. Both teams were seeminlgy scoring at will near the end of the half, as Tiago, Jack, and Mills were leading our charge, but Isaiah Thomas and DeMarcus Cousins were surely responding. Halftime: 58-57, Spurs.

Thankfully, our hot shooting continued out of the halftime break. Not 4 minutes went by and we had already strung together a 12-4 run, thanks to points by all-5 starters! The back-to-back scoring-fest returned with Manu now in the lineup. Our growing advantage at the free throw line was starting to pay off, as we would close out
Neal dominated -Image Source (AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli)

the 3rd-Q 97-86, with eight different Spurs scoring. The bad news is Manu would collide with Tyreke Evans, not to return. As terrible as it looked (Source), Manu would only suffer a laceration.

The Spurs opened the 4th-Q extending the 3-0 run they were on, to a 16-4 run that blew the game wide open. With the lead now 21, and Gary Neal hitting everything he's putting up, we look unstoppable, yet again. After a Kings bucket, we had another 5-straight (115-91), and from then on, all we had to do was not turn it over. It was a close one for a half, but our shots continued to fall - even through the final seconds. The 127-102 WIN was simply a second-half domination 69-45 that was too much for Sacramento (or most teams, for that matter) to overcome. Spurs had SEVEN guys in double figures, and no one had more than 17. Here is the boxscore..

We just went 6-0 in two separate B2B2B's - something no other team has done this season.. Not to mention it's 5 wins in 7 nights.


Friday night the Spurs played the LA Lakers for the 3rd time in 10 days. This time it was back in San Antonio, where we were dismantled inside by Bynum's 30 boards, (60-33 overall) a week ago Wednesday in a 98-84 loss. Of course we countered with revenge this past Tuesday 112-91 in LA. But the "best 2 outa 3" would feature Kobe Bryant's return from a 7-game shin injury. Once again Timmy would have Tiago starting along with him, and yes - we like this very much.

Spurs' starters were solid to begin - especially in defense as we were up 15-7 half way through the 1st-Q. Kawhi was super on D, holding Kobe to just 5 1st-Q pts. on 2 of 4 shooting. Meanwhile Manu would come off the bench to score 7. But it was old-school Tim Duncan whose strong early 10 led us. Our 1st-Q lead was 32-25.

Not 3½ minutes were gone and the score was tied, however. Gasol & Barnes led their initial charge, but just as soon as we were down 3, our defense would tighten down. Already exhausted chasing Kobe around, Kawhi would hit a huge 3 to spark us on 9-5 run that included a sweet steal and
Bynum frustrated all night long -Image Source (AP Photo/Bahram Mark Sobhani)

following assist to Manu for a crowd-rearing three. The half would end with a lot of good defense, and a 56-52 Spurs lead.

The return to action saw Kobe come to form, somewhat, as he would score 9 in just over 4-min., but our offense was just getting warmed-up. Spurs would score almost every trip down the floor: Tony, Timmy, Tony, Diaw, and then Manu would score 10 3rd-Q points, while guarding Kobe for this stretch. After the opening 3rd-Q bucket Kobe hit, the 14 of 18 Spurs 3rd-Q shooting (78%) brought the score to 91-73. And just as Sean Elliott was beginning to point out how the Lakers' players were reacting to our domination by not getting back on defense, hanging their heads, and a flat-out folding with their attitudes, Matt Bonner and Gary would open the 4th-Q with 7-straight to open up a 98-73 lead.

Just one of our many pieces, Gary Neal, always seems to find a way to shoot late nails in coffins with his play. He would score 6 in the 4th. But halfway through the 4th, the Lakers would wave the white flag, and put in Jordan Hill & Andrew Goudelock. DeJuan Blair, with 6 4th-Q pts., Jack, and Mills would bring it home, with our stars resting. For the 4th straight game, we win by 21+. The 121-97 Spurs WIN effectively proved to the national media, and more importantly to the Lakers themselves, that the road to the 2012 Championship certainly goes through San Antonio! For the first time in almost a year, the Spurs' big-3 all scored 20+! San Antonio's pts. differential in our last NINETEEN games is +12.6, and that includes our 7 and 14 point back-to-back losses at Utah and at home in that terrible Lakers game, respectively! Here is the Spurs/Lakers III boxscore..

Spurs have 4 games remaining, and of course, they are two back-to-backs with a day of rest in between: Home games vs. Cleveland & Portland Sunday & Monday, followed by road games at Phoenix & Golden State. Yeah we can still win 50 - in a season with 16 fewer games than usual.

Here are the west standings through all games of April 21, 2012:
Click to enlarge! Source: ESPN

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