The Spurs finally put together a complete first quarter. Crisp passing, great offensive spacing, good defense. We outplayed the Wiz in every aspect of the game. Timmeh was automatic, shooting 5-5 from the left side with his patented bank shot/jumper. It was so beautiful. The Spurs ended the quarter up 30-24, and I thought we were in for an easy night. Then it turned U-G-L-Y, really ugly.
We didn't have to wait long for the RQC tonight - just the buzzer to start the 2nd quarter. The Spurs had collective short-term memory loss, forgetting the aggressive offense and tight defense that got us the lead in the 1st quarter. The Wizards drove aggressively to the basket, aiding by our matador interior defense. The Spurs missed 6 shots from less than 10 feet, and the Gun Toters had an 8-2 FTA advantage. I think the 2nd quarter can be summed up by the following: While Tony was being guarded by Earl Boykins, he never once drove to the basket. And on the defensive end, Bogans allowed Boykins to run him over. EARL BOYKINS! Dude is a spark plug off the bench, but he's only 5-5! The half ended in a 50-50 tie. Manu and Tony did not play well AT ALL in the first half. If it wasn't for Mace going 4-4 from the arc, it would have been much worse.
The 3rd quarter was more of the same, with a tug-of-war feel. The defense was slightly better, although we still allowed too many layups/short jumpers. Our offense was still pathetic, but RJ had a couple of nice jumpers and 2 FTMs. After several lead changes, the Wizards built up a 5-point lead. Fortunately, the Spurs were able to close the 3rd by pulling within 1-point, 70-71.
The 4th quarter continued the same back-and-forth flow, until with 5:43 left in the game, the Spurs remembered they are the Spurs. After a timeout by Washington, the Spurs came out and played. We shot (and made) 7 FTs to none for the Wiz. The Spurs defense of old appeared, forcing Washington to take bad shots. Our last 3 possessions were +1s, including an impossible 13-foot shot put jumper from Timmeh with Butler draped all over him. As Wayne said in the game thread:
Prototypical win. Tight, relatively close game the whole way. Turn up the defense and the fourth and win by 10.
Yes, it was the return of ugly Spurs basketball, as we know and love - not a repeat of the U-G-L-Y type in the 2nd quarter. This was a game I don't think we win at the beginning of the season. Only 3 guys really played well, so even though it wasn't pretty, I'll take it. The Spurs showed they can win when not playing well, which is historically a hallmark of this team.
However, Pop has to stop with the long stretches of small ball. It absolutely killed us tonight. When you play Timmeh and 4 guards, no matter how hard everyone plays, the rebounding and defense are going to suffer.
Stars of the Game
Richard Jefferson - Although somewhat hampered by foul trouble, RJ was aggressive on both the offensive and defensive ends. He shot well and looks more comfortable with each passing game. He also lead the team with a +12.
- Tim Duncan - Another ho-hum night from the big guy. 23 points on 10-16 shooting, 7 rebounds, 3 assists and 1 block. The only problem was his 3-6 from the line, but I'm willing to let that slide.
- Roger Mason Jr. - Wow. Just amazine. His shooting was otstanding (7-10), his ball-handling and distribution were brillian, and he single-handedly kept us in the game in the 2nd quarter. He had his best game of the season against his old team in his hometown. You deserve every PtR kudo in the book, Mace. BRAVO!
Updated with Highlights