Thankfully, that picture above is the only time we really came close to being Psychologically Devastated™ during this game.
This is going to be even quicker than usual, so feel free to comment on everything I missed.
Let me get right to the point: I didn't see most of the first half. But, I can make inferences from the play-by-play and comments on the first game thread. The Spurs' starting lineup tonight was surprising in that McDyess was part of it - but he soon dispelled any doubts about whether that was a good move. The Spurs got off to the usual quick start we've all become accustomed to, featuring alley oops to Jefferson and McDyess. Do not adjust your monitor, you read that right: Dice finished an alley oop against a team with lots of athletes. Not only that, but late in the half, he put some moves on Josh Smith down low for an easy layup, and he played with lots of energy from the opening tip. Rumors of the old man's demise seem to have been greatly exaggerated. Parker scored all of his 10 points in the first quarter, but also distributed the ball very well, and finished with 5 assists for the half. In fact, the team as a whole shared the ball very well tonight(more on that in a minute).
After the break, both teams came out cold, with only 5 points scored between them in the first 3 minutes. McDyess made another impressive play down low after that to break the drought for the Spurs, but they essentially traded baskets with Atlanta for the remainder of the quarter... except when the Spurs missed. It couldn't quite be considered a 3rd quarter collapse, but the defense really looked bad. Atlanta won the third quarter 30-21. In the fourth, both teams came out cold again, but the Hawks still managed to pull within 9 with 9:22 to go. And then, it happened: the Spurs started playing better defense. They forced Atlanta into a couple of turnovers, and Antonio once again led the charge, sinking a layup off a sick pass from Manu, followed by a patented Dice 17-footer. It should be noted that Richard Jefferson made a couple of nice plays during the fourth as well, including a steal(which oddly got credited to Manu) and a near-steal which forced Atlanta into a bad shot on two possessions in a row. The first play ended with RJ throwing a sweet alley-oop to George Hill. Way to not be completely useless, RJ - now play with that kind of energy and intelligence consistently. The last few minutes were all about Timmy, whom we will praise more below, and the Spurs pulled away for a comfortable win.
Other Notes and Observations
Ball Movement - The Spurs did a fantastic job of sharing the ball tonight. Of their 40 field goals, 29 were assisted. If we counted "hockey assists", there would have been more assists than baskets. The big 3 all had at least 6 assists in the game.
Tony Parker - The bad(hopefully not too bad) news from this game is that Tony Parker rolled his left ankle on a drive at the 2:30 mark of the 3rd quarter. He was carried off the court. He tried unsuccessfully a couple of times to put some weight on it, but x-rays were negative. Hopefully we'll get some not-terrible news from the team about this tomorrow. We miss you already, Frenchy... especially since this makes it likely that we'll see Keith Bogans back in the starting lineup now.
Interior Defense - It does exist, and Pop's lineup change had a lot to do with it. It still needs a lot of work, but the D looked good inside for most of the contest.
Your 3 stars
Antonio McDyess - Dice really brought it tonight. 17 points, and was limited to only 4 rebounds simply because of playing with Timmy and Blair. I was more impressed with his D - he altered a lot of Atlanta drives, and the fact that the Hawks missed a lot of layups tonight isn't just a fluke. Dice and Timmy locked down the paint.
Manu Ginobili - Manu had a terrible shooting night, but still managed to be the spark that ignites our offense. Most of Dice's points came from Manu passes, and he had some nice defensive plays in the second half as well. 14 points, 6 assists, 2 boards.
Tim Duncan - What more can be said about this guy? He set a career high tonight for rebounds, and dominated the entire time he was in the contest, despite shooting 5-20 and supposedly not being able to jump any more. 21 points, 27 rebounds, 6 assists, and a block. Oh, and 11-11 from the free throw line. Like Dice, Tim altered a lot of Atlanta drives, and that was a big help in holding the Hawks to less than 40% shooting.
Update on Tony - Tony just posted this on Facebook:
hello…Big win for us against atlanta only one bad thing i sprain my ankle .nothing bad i will be back soon