So, I guess maybe I should take a sentence or two to reintroduce myself to PtR, and to all the new members I'm not yet familiar with. I've been hanging around this particular corner of the internet, off-and-on, since before it was named PoundingTheRock. It was the absurdist writing/ranting/whining of the inimitable Matthew Powell that sucked me in, and I still miss his insecure, misanthropic, homoerotically-tinged homophobic spiels. If balding, out-of-shape, emotionally damaged ex-engineers with the wrong type of reproductive equipment were my thing, I'd have been like, totally all over him.
It's been quite a while since I did my last recap, and I noticed one thing that kinda made me realize just how long... Most regulars are, I'm sure, familiar with the PtR Lexicon, and how it's existence (or lack thereof) was, for quite some time, a running inside-joke. It was LatinD's misspelling in the comments of my last recap that spawned the Lexicon. That's waaaaayy too long ago... much longer than I intended to go between game recaps.
Like I mentioned above, I was obviously a bit disappointed when Matthew left the site, but I've burnt myself out on enough online forums that I understand the need to occasionally cauterize part of your online existence in order to maintain your real-life sanity. In a way, that kind of accounts for my occasional disappearing act... I don't want to burn out, so I take breaks... including unintentional ones caused by that pesky condition we generally call 'real life'.
Since re-volunteering, I'd been debating with myself whether my extended absence was triggered by Powell's retirement, by Stampler's temporary drift away from us, by the Spurs' slow descent from the top of the NBA food-chain, or by the everyday personal and family issues that everyone deals with overwhelming my spare time. All of the above, probably. I've read that people can only deal with so much change before they get physically sick, and between getting married, finishing a new degree, changing jobs (twice), a new house and two new kids, it was inevitable that my online activity would suffer. What can I say? I've been busy... but I missed you guys/gals. (Cue sympathetic & sickly 'Awwwww' from audience). I could write more, but I'd probably end up sounding like an emo teenager on ecstasy, and nobody wants that.
Anyway, PtR did just fine without me. Ownership passed from Matthew to Wayne to JRW without any noticeable hitches, Stampler is back and writing more and better than ever, and the game threads have exploded far beyond what they were two-three years ago. Some other things have changed tho... in the past, I could slap up a post that more than flirted with the boundaries of slander and implied bestiality without worry. Now, because we're under the SBNation umbrella, I apparently need to account for things like 'copyright', and 'plagiarism', and 'libel' in order to avoid 'massive lawsuits'. I'm still wrapping my head around the policy for images, so please don't hate me for not including any in this recap. (Also, I'm trying to figure out whether referring to OKC as 'Okies' would be offensive, but the SBNation policy doesn't seem to cover Steinbeck references.)
So, about the game... 8-1. That's the best Spurs start for a while, so it appears that Manu's plea to Pop to not actively throw away early games has borne some fruit. We've been helped along by a relatively cream-puff-y schedule so far, but we've also seen three likely playoff teams (I expect to see OKC make the playoffs this year). If nothing else, we haven't lost any gimme-games yet. NOOCH wasn't supposed to start off 8-0, but I don't think anyone's going to pencil them in for a sure win this year unless CP gets hurt again. So, aside from some games being a bit closer than I'd like, so far so good. Not great, but good.
Unlike Stampler, I'm actually a bit optimistic about our defensive potential. While we don't have any shut-down players anymore (ie, Bowen and a younger Duncan) the Spurs are showing some flashes of excellent team D. More than offense, defense requires active communication between teammates, and it takes longer to fit new players into a scheme. The first half was another showcase of the San Antonio Suns defense, but our beloved Spurs finally showed up after halftime. There were a couple of possessions late in the game where the rotations and shifts looked nearly flawless, and the Spurs were rewarded by a string of 24-second violations. Against a team with Westbrook and Durant, that's not nothing. I'll re-evaluate after we've gone up against some top-tier teams, but it's just possible that our D may not be the open sieve that we were worried about earlier this year. I hope. Consistency will definitely be an issue for the next couple of months, but I'm hopeful.
Last night we were helped along by a 3-point barrage mostly courtesy of Matt Bonner. He took a couple of ill-advised 5 footers, but had an otherwise near-perfect night shooting. His defense is still his weak spot, and Pop pulled him once OKC started attacking him on isolations. Given my earlier optimism about defense, that was a less-than-nice reminder dose of reality, but the good guys still managed to hold the Thunder to 38 points in the second half. Also, I like our scrubs. Last night, any sub who played more than token minutes had a plus/minus of at least +10. They didn't suck.
Other early-season ideas/notes/ephemera
Rage: It's still early, but like most other San Antonians, I've largely forgiven RJ for his learning-curve season, especially if he can keep this up. I'd like to see more on defense, but his aggressiveness is a welcome factor on the other side, especially now that 4-down may not be an offensive staple. He had an off-looking game last night but still scored 18 on 11 shots. I'll take that.
Tony: Like many on this site, I have a tempestuous love-hate relationship with Frenchie. I love it when he passes to Manu, and I hate it when he doesn't. However, since this was to be the last year of his contract, I had been planning on spending the next 8-10 months shamelessly extolling the virtues of all things Parker in an attempt to do my (very) little part in keeping him in silver-and-black. But then he went and signed a pre-season extension, thus deflating a theme I had been planning on milking all season long. Now I've got nothing. Thanks for the assist, Tony. (Seriously, on the off chance that this paragraph ever makes it to Parker, I love you Tony, and don't let my constant hating ever convince you otherwise).
DeJuan: Still struggling, but he also keeps showing signs of BLAAAAAAAIIIR. (7pts in a row!) Defensively, he's getting exposed a bit by bigger opponents, but he's still doing things like grabbing 11 rebounds (7 offensive) in 16 minutes. I'm still unsure what to think of him long-term, and it doesn't help that phrases like 'an undersized, unpolished Malik Rose' keep coming to mind.
Splitter: If I'm involved in a fatal accident in the near future, my wife apparently becomes property of Tiago. I don't believe I have any choice in this matter, and I'll simply have to resign myself to constantly sniffing my food for any suspicious almond-y smells. Anyway, three quick fouls more or less consigned him to the bench this game, but based on his previous performances, I expect him to be starting by January. I'll be very interested to see how he handles Gasol when we face the Lakers.
Georgie: He managed to pull in a +19 on the +/- despite shooting 1-10. I'll probably waste a couple of hours later trying to figure out how that is statistically possible.
Timmeh: It's a SEGABABA, so I'm giving Timmy a break here – 6 points, but efficient defense and +6 on the over/under. Best stat of the night for Duncan? 23:06 minutes played. We all know he can turn it on for the playoffs as long as he's healthy, and having his teammates step up for games like this is probably the Spur's best take-away from this particular outing.
Manu: Again, some leeway for the SEGABABA, which have always given Manu problems. For the first three quarters, it looked like fatigue was seriously slowing him down, but then he stepped into a phone booth just before the fourth. 4-14 shooting overall ain't good, but 21 points on 14 shots ain't bad. Plus, he delivered the killing blows to put any thoughts of a comeback out of OKC's mind. Timing is everything with Manu.
So, I'm enjoying this season so far. Winning always smooths over the rough spots, but nobody is expecting much from this team come April/May (let alone June), so it almost seems like every win is a bonus. No stress... not for me as a fan, anyway. Also, I'm having conversations like this while watching the game:
Wife: "Wait... what did they say that guy's name is? That one?"
Me: "Ummm... that's Serge Ibaka."
Me: "Serge Ibaka."
Wife: "No, seriously, what's his name?"
Me: "Serge Ibaka."
Wife: "Are you making fun of me?"
Me: " Look, it's spelled right here."
Wife: "...oh. Ok."
Me: "What did you think they were saying?"
Wife: "Sir Chewbacca."
Me: "That's awesome."
So, as a consequent, I now, rather badly, want the Spurs to trade for Ibaka. Also, I may need to start giving my wife writing credit on any recaps and posts.
So, our PtR trademarked Three Stars:
3. Manu and RJ (tied): Manu... you kinda sucked until you didn't. Then you were awesome again. And RJ put in yet another efficient game. RJ, keep it up. Manu, stop playing with me like that.
2. Tony: I'm glad we'll still have you to kick around Tony.
1. Bonner: I actually kinda wanted to give Serge the #1 star, but 1) He's not a Spur, and 2) I couldn't find out which glyphs to use to do a good Wookie growl. (I'm thinking harmonized glottal stops...) So I suppose Matty gets it. 7-7 on threes. I GUESS that's pretty good.