It easy to hate losing to Devner and its easy to hate losing to Phoenix, but back-to-back?!?!?! Man.......
Even worse is that, in reality, Shaquille O'Neal played his best game as a member of the Suns and even produced a couple of stupid highlight reel material plays for TV fodder in the process. Wonderful. ESPN is gonna be running that dive and his refusal to take Tim's hand on SportsCenter teasers for the next 3 weeks. Surely, someone will mention this dive of his to me tomorrow at work, but they won't have any idea what happened to the ball right after fat boy went flying.
OK, the Suns did actually play good in stretches and a tip of the cap to them for it. But if that's the best they can play (and it may be), then they are going to be in trouble whether they run into San Antonio again or a number of other teams really. But enough about them.
The Spurs seemed to lose their way midway through the fourth quarter and couldn't get it back. The last 5 minutes or so were plagued with missed shots, both bad looks and good. The Spurs really shot poorly all day, and O'Neal's presence was a little part of that to be fair. But that which kept our guys around for most of the game failed them in the end. They did a good job of defending, rebounding and not turning the ball over for three and a half quarters. Too many empty possessions and loss of defensive intensity in crunch time made the Spurs fate in this one.
Some specific problems I had were:
-Not enough pick and roll basketball when Shaq was on the floor. It was working for open looks by Tim and KT almost every time we did it.
-Not trying hack-a-Shaq in the fourth quarter. You guys were with me on this one. Oberto, KT and Tim had plenty of fouls to give. Pop could have even tossed RoHo out there for a couple of hacks.
-Frenchy was not aggressive enough by any stretch. He typically lives in the lane. Not so much today. He did start hot and ended up with a reasonable line, but I think that we needed more from him to win today. He wasn't much of a factor late.
-Once the Spurs got the 4th and 5th fouls on both Phoenix bigs with more than 5 minutes to go, they settled for way too many jump shots and pull-ups. When they did take it to the hole, the Spurs drivers looked to be either looking for contact or trying to hard to take a tougher shot to avoid a shot block (that said, the Manu floater over Steadywhiner should go into his YouTube file immediately).
I was sure that the game was going to twist back the Spurs way after Parker drew O'Neal's fifth and then got tangled up with Raja Bell for a double foul just a moment later. D'Antoni went into one of his hissy fits that ended with a "Fuck You" directed at one of the officials and he drew the obligatory technical foul. This is typically a harbinger of doom for the Suns, but this time, they picked it up from there. Let's face it, Phoenix wanted/needed it more today and it showed. 14-2 over the last 3:40 tells the tale way better than I can.
This loss was tough to take for sure, but not worth starting a Bogota-stlye soccer riot over or anything. The Spurs could have won this game going away if they play better in most of the areas you all have already noted during the in-game blog.
Your 3 Stars:
This is going to be three Spurs players because I'm not gonna write up the name of an opposing player; and this is a Spurs site after all, so......
- Kurt Thomas. He really wasn't that good today, but at least he probably pissed off some Suns fans just by showing up in the Los Spurs jersey. I guess he was less-lame than most.
- Fabricio Oberto. Why? Dude almost died for the cause today taking a whallop upside the head from Shaq. Fab was also +11 while on the floor today and made his only two shots. Way better than the shooting percentage of our other guys (Note: I know that Manu had 22 and almost died for the cause as well, but he just missed too many shots in the 4th to take this spot from his counrtyman).
- Tim Duncan. Not one of his better games by any stretch, but did anyone catch the silly face he made at the camera right before he re-entered the game in the fourth? It was a laugh out loud moment for me (a sober one at that). Then Tim came right in and yanked down a one-on-four offensive rebound and dished it to Manu who drained a 3-ball. That's good enough for me. Oh yeah and he's our real MVP, I suppose.