Don’t be fooled by the Spurs’ 3 game win streak. If we play another game like that we may not win another one. Thank the gods that this particular game was played against possibly the only team in the league that could adequately have screwed up as many opportunities as we served up, the Los Angeles Clippers.
Make no mistake that Tim Duncan should definitely be on the short list for League MVP through the first 10 games of the season. He is dragging a team of mistake prone rookies and old, old, really old guys to a .500 record whether they want to come along for the ride or not.
So lets get to the game. The first play sort of summarized it. Baron Davis passed to the ball to Cuttino Mobley who had decided to face the opposite direction and not see it at all. The ball bounced off his back, Roger Mason grabbed it and the Spurs proceeded to score on a fast break. Ugly turnovers plagued this game on both sides and these two teams resembled more of the Washington Generals in a scrimmage to see who could control the ball the least. The Spurs did open with a 9-2 lead knocking down jumper after jumper. We then proceeded to turn the ball over on many subsequent plays and allow them right back in. The Spurs guard play especially lacked gusto as Curious George shot a blistering 0—5 from the field, whereas Jacque Vaughn threw up a much more respectable 2-9.
The rest of the half was a close and low scoring back and forth affair with each team trying to outdo the others gaffes. Our newest Spur Blake Ahearn took the field for 4 minutes, hitting 1-2 from the 3 point line and then was banished to the bench by Poppovich apparently for making George Hill feel jealous. With about 30 seconds left and the Spurs up by a point, Timmy hit a long jumper, then the Spurs got a rebound off an ill-advised Baron shot (they may all be ill-advised, except when he is playing the Mavs). On the ensuing play, Tim finds a streaking George Hill who is thrown to the ground by a grunting Chris Kaman in a goofy looking foul that only a 7 foot white guy could pull off. Kaman is called for the flagrant, George hits both free throws and the Spurs take a mildly respectable 5 point lead into the half.
The second half is highlighted by mildly improved Spurs play as Tim Duncan’s inside presence opens up open shots for Finley, Mason, and Bowen. The Clips fall behind by as much as ten and all seems right in the Spurs basketball world. This trend continues with the allowed fluctuations for losing the large lead every time Tim sits down for a breather and regaining it as he re-enters the game and repeatedly owns Kaman, Thomas, and Camby. Tim even got into it with Camby a little, but in his usual professional matter responded by throwing in consecutive baskets including a sweet looking 15-foot jump shot. Tim’s mid range shot really looks better than it ever has this season.
This trend continues until about the 2:18 mark when the Spurs, sitting on a comfortable 7 point lead, decide to self-destruct. George Hill transforms from the fairly calm and even mannered point guard we are trying so hard to appreciate into a rookie from a no-name school with more letters in it than the SEC complaint filed against Marc Cuban had. The details are not pretty but the Clippers manage to tie it with about 30 seconds left. The building is suddenly, and for the first time that night, really loud. Almost as loud as a Lakers game in the same building, assuming they are losing to a team no one cares about. The Spurs, after a timeout that clearly came about 2 minutes too late, inbounds to Roger Mason who, doing his best Manu impression lets the clock tick down to about 10 seconds, runs around a Timmy screen. No Clippers follow, seriously like at all, and he calmly knocks down a clutch three. Westside rentals man is heartbroken, though you’d never know it by has robotic and continuous dancing (you’d have to live here to get that one). The Clippers of course throw the ball to Baron who, unsurprisingly, takes another ill-advised shot and the Spurs win.
A couple of game notes.
Tim Duncan is really good.
Jacque Vaughn is not. George Hill, albeit with more upside, may not be much better. I feel his high assist to turnover ratio has a lot to do with merely throwing the ball to Tim Duncan and not his advanced grasp of this game we call basketball.
Roger Mason is a sniper, especially in close games. That was not an easy shot at the end and he did not even flinch.
Michael Finley looks good, you know , for Michael Finley. He still attempts the occasional athletic play, which 9 times out of 10 ends poorly but he definitely knows his role and is hitting anything remotely open.
I’m worried about the frontcourt. Oberto and KThomas are not going to carry us against teams with legit bigs. Those teams would probably be considered, the Lakers, the Celtics (I really like Powe), the Hornets, and possibly the rockets. Three of those four we would have had to go through last year to win a championship and that list appears to currently be unchanged. Unless Tim gets some help rebounding and defending down there I’m not sure we can take those teams. Excepting Mahinmi, who is still a major question mark, there is nothing waiting in the wings on that one either. I guess we will see.
Okay your big 3
3. Michael Finley- Hitting everything as long as he doesn’t pump fake or put the ball on the floor.
2. Tim Duncan- Definitely the best player on the floor tonight, but I gotta go with…
1. Roger Mason Jr.- For hitting the clutch three with all the momentum in the Clippers favor (possibly the last time the phrase “all the momentum in the Clippers favor” may ever be uttered again this season)