A Stampler First: Praise for Findog

So I was thinking about the Spurs last night, as I often do, at the expense of other worthwhile, productive, and other healthy, uses of my time such as looking for a real job. And as I scanned the pitiful boxscore of our even more pitiful ousting at the hands of the despicable NOOCH, lamenting the lameness of Bonner, Mace, and all our other drab random non-Argentines on the bench (we’ll get to The Superfluous G later, I assure you), I couldn’t turn my dumb thoughts away from Fin’s line. He was 5-of-12 from the floor, 2-of-6 from deep, 12 points from 12 shots, also with a couple of assists and boards, a turnover and a steal in 34 perfectly ordinary, nondescript minutes. Statistics that were on par with Fin's season averages, so what's compelling about that? Nothing, and that's my point. By design, Fin's career, at least with the Spurs, has been camouflaged and totally anonymous. Say what you want about him, he knows his limitations. Unlike other Spurs (cough Mason cough), he doesn't try to do things he can't do.

Maybe I haven't been appreciative enough of Fin over the years. He may not be very good, but at least you know what you're getting with him. Someone who's classy, a pro's pro. A guy who's "over himself."

And he's never been blind to his weaknesses. He can't dribble the ball or drive to the hoop much these days, so he seldom tries to. When he does pass, they're generally safe ones. He's a poor defender (as a former Mav it's not oh, such a natural thing for him), but so is just about everyone else Pop plays these days. For reasons known only to him.

By and large I can't see myself complaining much if Pop cut Fin's minutes sharply in the playoffs, or next week, really as soon as possible. But he won't, for the simple reason that he'll know what to expect from Fin, night in and night out, by golly. If we lose games, it won't be cos Fin tried to do too much, or tried to do something crazy. Really, Fin is like your mom's meatloaf - he's comfort food. Not great, not even good maybe, but always, reliably, the same.

Spurs 111, Clippers 98

Can't have too much to say about this one, unfortunately. For technical reasons I cannot understand the game was hidden from my scrutiny; blacked out from my League Pass broadband archieves. I did watch the highlights and ravenously obsessed over the play-by-play data however and I think I can offer the following conclusions: The Clips?... I just think, are really, really disinterested in playing defense. Whoa! Did that shit just blow your minds? You'd think somebody would've noticed this by now. The mighty Clippers have an Achilles Heel after all! No defense!

Perhaps the early exit of Camby hurt them. Like the true meaning of "San Diego" we shall never know. What I do know, and I can't stress this emphatically enough, is that I can't care less about the Clips and their problems. Chris Kaman's ugly. I care about the Spurs and them alone, and any game where we kick ass and nobody has to play more than 20 low-stress minutes is a good game, kapis? And the Manu-Gooden combination makes my pants feel funny.

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This would've been a nice game to watch I think. Thanks NBA League Pass broadband!

(Photo by Alissa Hollimon/NBAE via Getty Images)

Hornets 90, Spurs 86

I can't believe we lost to these floppy, punky, injured, on-the-verge of mutiny, stupid, smelly, gang of roundball rejects. Save for Chris Paul, who on that team is even any good? West? Sure. Nobody's winning jack with him in the Riker role.

(A Star Trek: The Next Generation reference. Because that's how I and the ladies get down.)

For what it's worth, I don't think we played that bad against the Nooch. We weren't too sloppy with the ball, we had one less rebound, we held them to a paltry 13 assists, and they shot just 37.5% for the game. Call me a homer, but I think only a bizarre combination of circumstances kept us from winning the game. Scott always, come hell or highwater, packs the lane against us and makes us take an outlandish number of threes. When we shoot our normal percentage, he looks pretty stupid. When we shoot like 20%, he looks like a genius less stupid. Bonner, Mace, Findog, I think even Udoka should be expected to better than this with wide open looks most nights. Our wretched brick-filled nightmare was exacerbated by an ungodly night from the charity stripe from the Hornets. If we shoot better from the great beyond or they a bit worse on the freebies, we win. If, If, if. It's always something.

Perhaps it would be prudent to moan and complain about the officiating, about the stupid calls Paul got, his dumb, ugly, egregious flops, the BS extra free throw he was awarded at the end, the mysterious two seconds we lost on that now-infamous play, how the ref missed Tony grabbing him before he split the double team, etc. etc. But honestly, Pop; King of all he surveys, doesn't seem to care at all about these games, so why should we, his ignorant peasants, make all that much of a fuss? If there's a coach besides Don Nelson and Mike Dunleavy in the NBA who cares less about such a trivial thing as the outcomes about his job right now, I don't know him. No Bruce and precious little Hill against someone like CP3? It's just mind-bottling, is what it is.

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This looks like a three shot foul to me, plus a flagrant. Unbelievable.

(AP Photo/Brian Lawdermilk)

Thunder 96, Spurs 95 SA: 48-26 1st in Southwest, 3rd in Western Conference

But wait, there's more! Just when you think we can't look any worse, here comes a humiliating home loss to the indubitable Thunder. But of course, after hearing Tony's comments during the NOOCH game about how he's ready for the playoffs to start because it's hard to get motivated against teams like the Thunder, you knew we'd be in for a competitive game. It was just the latest example of Tony putting his foot in his mouth in a fit of decidedly un-Spurs-like hubris. And things like this are why he's so easy to mock and dislike. He's always been Hollywood, even before Eva.

As is the case with just about everyone else on People's "50 Most Beautiful People in the World" list, (Memo to People: Needs tasteful nudity) The Wee Frenchman is better seen and not heard. I can't think of a single time that Tony, Mr. Diarrhea Mouth, has said something in public that hasn't been a little cringe-worthy, including, obviously, all his raps.

Howevuh, what's really ironic about Tony's latest thoughtless boast is that, in this case, it doesn't really make sense... I might be nuts, but hasn't Frenchie McWonderbutt made his season, if not his career, by feasting on shitty no-defense squads like the Thunder? With him it's always been the tough teams, the big games that's been the worry, has it not?

Seems to me that we just might be better off when Tony isn't motivated. Perhaps we can somehow hypnotize him so he'll think the Lakers are terrible and that May is the NBA preseason. The most disappointing aspect of the whole thing I think was that the only person who didn't seem to have a clue that his comments were inflammatory bulletin-board nuggets was Tony. He pumped up OKC, then came out and played the whole game in first gear. It looked pretty weak, you know?

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Dude, just shut the fuck up and play.

(AP Photo/Eric Gay)

Lame as it was, we can't blame Tony entirely. I think I understand what Pop is doing with the big three. If you'll recall, I've offered a theory of what Pop might do with Manu in my last recap. Basically, he's gonna try to artificially hasten Plainview's recovery by force-feeding him minutes, plays and shots, no matter how it affects the rest of the team. Seriously, why else do you think he chose to start Manu last game, completely out of the blue?

Maybe, and I'm just throwing a wild guess out here, it was done to give him extra playing time in lineups with Duncan and Parker, which will largely be the case in the playoffs. The problem is right now this strategy is costing the team, keeping them from winning games. I love Manu, but even I know that he had the ball way too much this last game. Eventually such a thing will be a positive, but right now, with Manu's stamina being what it is, it's a liability.

Had Manu been 100% and had this many plays called for him, he would've put up between 18-21 shots, not just 13... I don't think, and he'd have gotten more FT attempts. Instead, he was shot by the fourth quarter and had to pass a lot. Mostly he got it to the open guy, but everyone clanked wide open shots.

Look, I'm not blaming Manu for our recent slump. For the most part I agree with this force-feeding maneuver by Pop. Obviously it's not Manu's fault that everyone was shooting bricks. But I'm positive that "Tony P" would've finished more of those plays by himself had he had the ball. Instead Pop is like resting Parker out there, even when he's on the floor, keeping him away from the fray by having him play off the ball a lot. A passive Tony is a useless Tony.

Longing for Manu to return, as we all did, was of course reasonable and logical. Not only is he our most fun, inspirational, fan-friendly, charismatic, passionate player, but when he's right, he's one of the top 10-15 ballers in the known world. But you get the troublesome feeling that not all the guys, especially the newer Spurs, understand this. Essentially, guys like Mason and Hill have had zero chemistry with Ginobili all year, and time's running out. It's vexing.

All that being said, this team has many more problems than the always entertaining Tony-Manu dynamic.

To put it simply, I have lost all my faith, and I'm starting to suspect the team is beginning to as well, in Pop. His random rotations, his match-up decisions, have gotten more indefensible by the game. It's like he makes decisions out of anger or spite more than anything else. Everyone's complaining about me using Mace as the backup point? Okay, I'll now use the one guy they'll hate even more, the JV. Let's see what they think about Mace now. Vaughn can't, you know, shoot, and at his age his "defense" is pretty much just fouling guys. I don't know why Pop has discarded Hill so openly. Since when is being deferential to Manu a bad thing? Just dribble the ball competenty, play defense and knock down enough open shots to keep defenses honest. Even if he does just two of those things, no other guy, outside of Tony (X-rated) Parker can. If Pop is indeed serious about sticking with Vaughn now, we have no, I repeat, zero chance, ultimately, of doing anything in the playoffs. If Fab is healthy Vaughn shouldn't even be on the damned active list, let alone playing. Things like this is why I could never work for the San Antonio Express News. After four titles in this lame-ass town Pop is beyond reproach. Nobody over there has the balls to ask him a serious, critical question.

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Is it too late to trade coaches with the Silver Stars?

How can nobody, not even tenured scribes like Monroe and Harvey, not, in light of this ridiculous, beyond-the-pale outlandishly stubborn JV episode, ask Pop, "Hey, I know you've been the coach of four championships, but seriously, our readers have to know, have you lost your fucking mind?" Maybe this is why Johnny Ludden left. It could be that he knew Pop had grown so powerful here that he couldn't properly do his job anymore. Add to this mess Pop's weird, endless love for Fin, no matter how easily Durant or anyone else scores on him, his puzzling, head-scratching bigman rotations (no Gooden in the second half, no Thomas til the fourth quarter) and it's all enough to contemplate suicide.

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