Game 3 @ Toronto: Spurs 103, Raptors 94
A little bit of everything in this one. Not surprisingly the early starting time led to a rusty 1st quarter, and pretty much our entire starting five stunk it up while they were in there. It was looking a bit ugly there at 28-17, but once Pop realized that Fin and Roho weren't up to being the saviors today and cast his devious stare in Bones' direction, the game quickly turned in our favor. I like this Raptors club, they have a lot of interesting pieces with Bosh and Ford and two Spanish guys and the Italian dude. Oh, and they got `Sho too. But they're too soft of a defensive club to give us any serious trouble and quite frankly, their biggest mismatch against us is at head coach. We finally started hitting some open shots, started to rebound the ball, outscored them 59-43 between the 2nd and 3rd quarters and pretty much coasted from there.
Some firsts in this one for the '06-07 season...
-First playing time of the year for The Red Rooster. Not sure if it was because Pop was fed up with Horry or because he just wanted to give Bonner a chance against his old team. Either way, he sucked.
-First time we saw Fab and The Dutchboy on the floor together. They weren't too bad actually, but I didn't chart it or anything. Once again I chalk it up to Pop being fed up with Horry. Still they combined for 47 minutes, 18 points, and an eye popping 17 boards. I'd take that every night, no questions asked.
-First time we went with a smallball look with Timmy as the hub. On principle I don't like smallball, but I dislike it a whole lot less with Tim in there as opposed to Oberto. We broke this baby out in the 4th to ice the game.
-Also the first time we saw extended playing time for the "Pale Triangle" of Manu, Brent, and Beno. This was my personal favorite lineup last season and I'd love to see them bust out it more often in the 2nd and 4th quarters. It's by far our most fun to watch group I think since it puts our three best/most creative/most unselfish passers on the floor at the same time and they can all stroke the three as well. Like the Princeton offense but with a couple of Pete Maravich wannabes executing it.
-When Beno landed funny on his foot after a made lay-up late in the 4th and started limping around, Pop shot him a look like, "Are you serious you freaking hairy girl?" Udrih picked up on it right away and stopped limping. Even though he's playing well so far, it's safe to say Beno's role as the backup PG is tenuous at best.
Your 3 Stars...
3) Fabricio Oberto - Along with Barry he was the heart of our big 2nd quarter and really provided a lot of energy and hustle out there when Tim was struggling. We know he can get offensive rebounds, but the six defensive boards were a pleasant surprise and he was flawless on all of his lay-ups. Even added comic relief for good measure, managing to airball a free throw in the middle of his career game.
2) Tim Duncan - Didn't need to have a big rebounding night thanks to his centers, but managed to more than hold his own with Bosh after a slow start. He pretty much destroyed the kid in the 3rd quarter and just like the Cavs game had that one five minute stretch where he scored at will. It's like he has to really get pissed off early in the game to want to dominate. It reminds me of the Hulkster almost. Also led us with four assists and shot 6 of 7 from the line. Best of all for him, he really didn't miss much not being allowed to watch the Bears game; they all kinds of sucked vs. the Dolphins.
1) Brent Barry- Absolutely everything was going wrong for us when he came in. Down 11, the starters couldn't make a shot, Fin was cold, Horry was useless, even Bonner had nothing. In all desperation Pop turned to Bones. Four flicks of the wrist later the Spurs went into halftime with a three point lead and Barry was leading the team with 12 points on four threes. He finished with 16 and added a couple of snazzy assists in the 2nd half when the Raptors figured out it was a good idea to get out on him. The one shot he missed, naturally, was a bunny lay-up. I'm sure it makes all the sense in the world to Pop that's Barry's minutes have gone from 0 to 12 to 30 in our three games, but I can't make heads or tails of it. I guess his playing time will depend largely on A) how up Fin is for that day's opponent and B) how aggressively he plays when he does get in. The Knicks don't guard anybody, so Brent may have an encore performance tomorrow night.
Record: 2-1 Streak: W-1
Up next: @ New York
Our second shot at this back-to-back deal, and this one is actually a back-to-back to a back-to-back since it's our fourth game in five days. That the Raptors game was a 1:00 local start helps a bit though. What helps even more is that we're playing the friggin' Knicks. As I recall we put up a 100 on them in three quarters last year. I expect open shots galore, it's just a matter of having the legs to knock `em down. But I mean...come on. If we don't win this B2B, you might as well chalk just off an "L" in the 2nd game of all the others on the sked now.