I was so close to just posting political pictures and giving self-assumed witty political commentary speckled throughout this recap. But then I realized…… I’m not an asshole. If you’re looking for anything non-SPURS, you’re going to Daily Kos or National Review or Sean Hannity or Move On. Who am I to assume that my opinions are worth a shit outside of things SPURS related? Hell, even SPURS-related my opinions aren’t that special. It would take either a complete idiot or a complete asshole to assume that either his opinions are so conformed and mainstream that he’s safe to venture into non-SPURS drivel; or it would take someone who doesn’t give a shit about offending you. Unfortunately, I’m not an idiot. Or a complete asshole. And I don’t want to offend you. Usually. So you have to deal with just SPURS stuff today. Anyway, all that ranting aside and speaking of assholes, let’s talk about phoenix.
I had a dream last night.
I dreamed that just for a day, we made perfect defensive rotations. We funneled drivers to the baseline, and Timmy and Bonner rotated back to eliminate easy shots. We challenged each shooter; not be going for the ridiculously overrated blocking stat, but instead had a hand in every face and made each attempt extremely difficult. We hustled on loose balls, and didn’t make an extreme amount of mental errors. In my dream, Tony drove the lane to draw the D in, then kicked out consistently to the open shooters, who then efficiently made their shots. In addition, Timmy focused on owning the paint and didn’t shy away from double teams by settling for 15-foot jumpers. Bonner had another huge game, as each time Timmy was doubled he kicked it across the lane to an open Red Rocket. We controlled the pace, and we fought hard to achieve a victory over an incredibly talented rival.
But that was only a dream. And completely the opposite in every way from what actually happened on Christmas Day in Phoenix. For 47 minutes and 45 seconds, I felt sick to my stomach. Completely nauseous. Like you’d feel if you drank ipecac.
First off, let’s get this out of the way. It’s a miracle that we pulled that out. No doubt about it, we didn’t play that great. Phx seemed to be playing pretty well and gelling nicely, even the top-notch announcing team headlined by Hubie "Skeletor" Brown seemed to notice. Flat out miracle. Several times out of ten, that shot doesn’t fall for Roger and we’re singing the Christmas blues right now. That one play represented 94% of the good that Tony Parker performed in that game, and were it not for basketball mojo we’d have a very short recap today. When you win like that after playing well, it’s the cherry on the sundae. When you win like that after playing FAR below your abilities, it’s the cheese on the shit-sandwich.
That doesn’t even make sense. We dodged a bullet, that’s all I’m saying. Thank God we have Tim Duncan.
They're in the waaaaaayyyyy back, dark corner of your local Foot Locker.
Ooooooohhhhh Timmy. Watching Timmy never gets old. Do you realize that even as good as Amare is, even if he somehow quickly learned to play defense and maintained it for the rest of his career…… at the end you still couldn’t put him in the top 5 PF conversation headlined by Timothy Duncan. Tim is the only player in the association who can effectively play the Big Snaq straight up one-on-one, and that's saying something. Think about it....the ONLY one. Every other team is incapable of using anything but the double- or triple-team to slow him down when he's on. And today Timmy rendered Snaq useless for most of the 2nd half. Duncan is so freakin brilliant that he disables your ability to see how freakin brilliant he is. KG is a great contrast here; cause KG usually screams at you to get your attention for how freakin brilliant he is, as if somehow he’s insecure that you might not actually appreciate his talents or may have completely overlooked them. To me though, being freakin brilliant at basketball is kinda like being black. If you are, you don’t need to remind people.
Everyone do your best Snaq impersonation....NOW!
And TD is freakin brilliant at basketball. He’s just good at it. Wizard held Amare scoreless on three straight possessions in the paint in the 4th, without drawing a foul. And he had 5 fouls at the time. Considering Amare’s their moneymaker, that’s pretty freakin brilliant. He held us together all day, even though he got very angry several times over his repeated paint-muggings being ignored. But when you’re in phoenix, on Christmas Day, in a nationally televised game….. you should probably anticipate that kind of thing. You guys know what I mean.
We started off the game sluggish and lazy, and it didn’t get much better until about 4 minutes left in the fourth. Do not lull yourself into believing that we were savvy and gritty, and that we fought back into the game as any good team does. The fact that we were only 2-6 points down for the majority of the game has a very real and simple explanation. The 2008-9 kleenex suns are not a good basketball team. They’re just not. We ended the 1st quarter having shot 29% to their 55%, and were only down 9. At the end of the 2nd, we were only down 6 and had shot only 33%. For those of you who don’t follow basketball much, those aren’t good percentages. We have much further to go to compete with the big boys in the NBA, but games like this give me hope. We can easily identify what went wrong, and what went right.
First off, what went wrong.
Zoost becuz I’s dizn’t haz de best game ehz it pertainz to ze mental does’zent mean I am not good playa, weee?
Tony had horrendous position D the entire game. He didn’t switch on screens that went baseline, he didn’t funnel drivers to the post men, he didn’t pass effectively and he hurried shots. This can be best witnessed by the last 1 minute of the game. Tony drove the lane rushing a teardrop with a full shotclock and open perimeter shooters, then immediately went on to ignore a switch on the other end allowing Grant Hill to score what was likely the deciding bucket. You guys wonder why I stress transition D- when you don’t communicate effectively on the baseline to rotate and cover Finley’s man as he drives uncontested to the basket………. you’re not playing smart basketball.
Like Frenchie, Matt Barnes' lockdown D is not exactly known the world over.
Also, our quick shooting was painful to watch. It appears as though Friday’s practice will include drills on utilizing the 24-second shot clock, because that was done sparingly during the phoenix game. In addition, the suns absolutely killed us on backdoor cuts. All night we allowed the baseline or the low block to be open because we fronted on the pick and roll. Although we didn’t allow any major P&R lapses as we’re accustomed to when we play Nash and Amare, 2 points scored is still 2 points scored regardless of how.
As for the good? I’ve already mentioned Tim Duncan, and that pretty much covers it. So let’s focus on the other players. Manu was mortal tonight, if for no other reason but to give us earthlings hope of personal greatness. The ankle was clearly bothering him and he hobbled on it several times that I saw. Bonner gradually figured out how to clog the lane with his hands held up and only finished with a team worst -11. Mason, although saving the game for us at the buzzer took no other shots and played only that possession in the 2nd half. Tony took 23 shots to get to his game-high 27, but did thoroughly abuse Nash as it pertained to "lateral movement." Findog went 2-3 on threes and was very spry tonight. Bruce…. not so much. Ime never left the bench with a DNP-CD and is starting to concern me. He was very cozy with the JV and that’s never a good sign, just ask Blake Ahern.
Overall, we played just well enough to squeak out a win on Christmas Day playing an overrated underachieving team. Watching the Big Snaq play now is just comical- When the only ones that really respect you are in the ESPN marketing department, then your time is done. When you need "days rest" between games to be an effective NBA player, you’re done.
Whoops, my bad.
And the most important part of the game, the part you've all heard and likely already seen on the highlights- The Mason Threeball. Tony allows the Hill backdoor layup by not switching, putting phx up 2 with less than five seconds to play. SPURS drive the court and after drawing the triple-team, Tony kicks out to an open Mace who drains the 3 at the buzzer. Fans sat motionless, stunned again that San Antonio had bested them on their home court. I've said it before, but there really is nothing greater than seeing little kids clad in orange crying on Christmas Day after your team just ripped the joy from their little whiny bodies. I'm surprised you didn't hear me, because you could have heard a mouse sneeze in the arena after the buzzer. A few of the most delusional waited cautiously for the replay, but it was clearly good upon the release. We won, SPURS fans, and it's exciting knowing that we're only getting better. Congratulations Roger Mason, you've won my heart eternally. Now please try and avoid shooting yourself in the leg or getting caught in an airport with a bag of crystal meth.
I'm with you now. I'm with you. -SiMA, 12/25/08
To summarily recap this game, we could have played much, much better while they likely couldn’t have. And we won. In a dramatic, emotional way. In phoenix on Christmas. It was wonderful and beautiful and joyous. The suns obviously have individual talent, but the sum of the parts don’t make a working machine. D’Antoni’s run-and-gun culture still exists, though they deny it here. Nash still simply plays too quickly and too rushed for half his team, and there are too many alpha-dogs on the team to keep a cohesive structure. They are still unable to play in the half court and look lost when attempting to. The suns are like the Denver in that they are entertainers first, professional basketball players second. But regardless of where this team is at the end of the year, it’s such a joy to beat them. Manu may be a flopper at some times, but he’s starting next to Steve Nash and Amare on the All-Flop Team.
I still defy you to convince me that that's not at least 45% flop.
Your three stars-
3.) Michael Finley- went 2-3 on threes and as I said, looked spry. Anytime I can write "spry" and "Michael Finley" in the same sentence he gets a star.
2.) Roger Mason- though he didn’t do much for the game (3-7 for 7 points), he hit the shot that will define his early regular season career with the San Antonio SPURS.
1.) Tim Duncan- It’ll likely be a cold day in hell before anyone takes this spot in one of my recaps. He’s just too freakin brilliant. 25/17/3 on 25 shots, and a pantload of intangibles.
PS- Some of you may think that I'm being cruel and mean again. "Damn, that was harsh." To that thought I say, "Come to phoenix and watch a game. Listen to the entitlement combined with bitterness and lack of accountability." As a person who is blessed to see games all over the country, it's truly unique here. They absolutely hate us with unbridled rage. They consider us they're primary rival (as most every other team in the league- you ever notice that?!), except they've never really bested us enough to qualify. It is being IN phoenix then that you will understand my relentlessness. I can be relentless AND be a good sport, can't I? I hope that I've done that, and not gone against our culture as a team in my analysis of things.