Game 13, Vs. Orlando: Spurs 106-97 (Record 12-1) RAGE: +3
We've just dialed it to 11, amigos. How long is this thing gonna go? We'll discuss that in a minute. A couple things first.
I saw this website where it ranks NBA players based on their basic stats (points, rebounds, assists, etc) and assigns each stat a physical characteristic on an alien-like body. Head size represents shots taken, with the width representing field goal percentage. The narrower the head, the worse you shoot. Leg length represents total rebounds. Arm length is blocks. Hand size is steals. Eye size is assists and eye width is assist to turnover ratio, with narrowness being good and width being bad. Dwight Howard's eyes stretch literally wider than his head. Mouth size represents technicals, so Pops Mensah-Bonsu had a mouth bigger than his entire body.
It seems silly at first, but eventually you start to get it and it becomes kind of addictive. I'm just glad other body parts weren't involved, because I'd hate to think what they would use to rank injuries when it came to Greg Oden's alien avatar.
And what physical characteristic would you use to measure clutch scoring? You see where I'm going with this, right? Anyway, it begins here, so go nuts with this thing.
Also, I was messing around on basketball-reference.com. Did you know Manu's 14th among active players in career PER and 32nd all time? Well he is. And the Spurs have the second, eighth and ninth players all time in Win Shares per minute.
Before the jump, since the three pointer is such a big part of our offense now and played a major role in the win, I thought why not remember one of the most famous three pointers in Spurs history?
Let's see Dwight Howard do that. (via DIEWITODJproductions)
Alright, the game. In the words of Joey Russo, "Whoa!"
The Spurs offense is officially legit, kids. This isn't a fluke, an anomaly, a blip or a hot streak. What we're seeing is the real deal. This IS the 2010-2011 San Antonio Spurs. This IS how they're going to play all year. Barring injury, IT'S NOT GOING TO CHANGE. Whether the folks at ESPN notice or not, the Spurs are gonna be raining buckets all year long, and it's gonna be sweet.
Orlando came into the game allowing a league-best 90.3 points and the Spurs torched them for 106. They did this in a regulation, 48-minute game in which they only had three offensive boards, just 11 fast break points, 10 off Magic turnovers and 23 free throw attempts. They shot a perfectly ordinary 49.4% from the floor.
Does not compute, right?
Well, 12-of-19 three pointers is your pick to click. Again, as I said before, the reason the Spurs shoot so well from three, besides having the shooters, is that they have the five necessary ingredients you need in the modern NBA.
1. The drive and kick guys, with Manu and Tony.
2. A post guy who can draw doubles and pass effectively from them in Tim.
3. Shooters who aren't selfish and are willing to swing the ball for better shots. All our guys do this, to various degrees. Some do it to a fault.
4. A big who can stretch the floor, forcing reluctant fours to guard him out there and opening lanes for the aforementioned drive and kick guys. Pretty much why Rocket isn't working at a Subway somewhere.
5. If all else fails, a perimeter guy who can create his own three point shot off the dribble, which we have in Manu.
The Spurs are the one of two teams that has all five ingredients, with the Lakers being the other. Pau Gasol is their post guy, Lamar Odom is the shooting big and Kobe, obviously, can pull up and fire from anywhere. I don't think they rotate it as well as we do, and some of their guys aren't as pure shooters as our guys are (like Ron Artest and Matt Barnes), but they have more guys who can make 'em.
The Celtics lack that shooting big. The Madge don't pass it too well and Vince Carter isn't particularly good at driving and kicking or shooting off the dribble. Miami doesn't have a post guy or a big who can shoot. OKC doesn't have a post guy. Dallas doesn't have a post guy or anyone who can create his own. Utah just flat out lacks the shooters.
Like Manu said, they're probably not going to shoot 44% as a team from three the whole season. Bonner won't shoot it 69%, RJ won't finish 46% and even The Philandering Frenchman will clank a couple when it's all said and done. The numbers aren't important. What matters is that they've got the formula, the necessary ingredients and the talent to do it.
Eventually people will sell out and taking the three from them come hell or high water. When that happens it will be up to the Big Three to have their way in the lane and for RJ, Rocket and Hill to pump fake and drive for lay-ups and floaters. If they "play the right way," it is virtually impossible for them to not get a high percentage shot virtually every time down the floor. They're like the Philadelphia Eagles of the NBA with all these weapons, but without that whole messy ex-con dog murderer fella.
With Tony and Manu playing at such a high level -- the best back court in the NBA rank 9th and 11th in PER, respectively -- it seems to me you'd have to catch the role players on a real bad night to beat the Spurs these days. If RJ doesn't get you, Bonner does. If Rocket doesn't have it going, Hill finds his stroke. Or Neal. Or somebody like Blair comes up with a double-double and gets the team a bunch of second chances. It's always something. The team can afford a bad quarter (like Manu's atrocious third) or half from one of their stars because others step up.
And then there's Timmy on the other end to hold things together. 26 points by Howard might not sound like a great night defensively from Duncan (especially considering he only had four rebounds), but Howard took 16 shots to get it, which is four more than he averages per game and the second highest total of his season. We never doubled him, which hurt their three point game, and Timmeh also eliminated their other guys from finishing at the rim. Practically all of Orlando's non-Howard points came on jumpers.
The Spurs certainly didn't blow Orlando's doors off, and they weren't demonstrably better in any one area. They made three more threes, which could be attributed to luck. The eight extra free throws and seven fewer turnovers however weren't luck. That's the residue of us having more guys who can get to the line than they do and having more active defenders. Both Manu and Tony created turnovers from Jameer Nelson at the end to turn him into the goat of the game, which delighted me because he's a punk. Who the hell does he think he is popping Gino like that and standing over him? He got his just desserts.
Overall I wasn't too impressed by Orlando. They're talented but gimmicky. Howard is so big and wide he just bounces people off of him and the refs let him get away with it as long as he's not hacking away with his arms. Hardly anyone on the team can dribble and they like to trip people and throw sneaky elbows. I liked 'em a lot more when they had Hedo. I don't have a good feeling about them at all. I'm actually starting to like Chicago more and more.
The announcers said the game was a possible Finals preview, but honestly I think Orlando has even less of a chance of making it than we do. They've got Vince Carter for crying out loud. I actually like their bench a lot but Vinsanity and Q-Rich are dogs and will undermine them, while just about any decent point can kick Nelson's ass. Tony certainly did.
I think the most impressive thing about the Spurs run so far that has been overlooked is the way they've brought back their chameleon playing style, effortlessly mimicking whatever their opponents do, and beating them at their own game. They outgunned Indiana and out-shot the Suns and Magic. They had more energy in the second half than the youthful Thunder despite being on a SEGABABA. They played aggressive gambling defensive teams like Charlotte, the Clips and the Sixers and get more steals and fast breaks. They ran the Bulls off the floor in the third quarter and out-rebounded the rugged Jazz. The way the season's going Blair will get 25 boards against K-Love tomorrow and Timmeh will outscore Beasley 40-35.
It's just crazy impressive stuff, and entertaining as all hell, and really it all started out of nowhere, first at Phoenix with RJ hitting all those fourth quarter threes and then in a home against the beat up Rockets where we were down four with less than a minute to go. We won two games we wouldn't have last year and like that, a spark ignited. Again, I'm asking, how long does it go?
And I'm thinking silly things I shouldn't be thinking.
But so are you.
Your Three Stars:
3) Matt Bonner. With apologies to Timmeh, anytime Rocket shoots 100 % from downtown and leads the team in rebounds, he's gotta crack three stars. Now let's see Beast and Leg out-muscle Minny's bigs.
2) Tony Parker. Consistent all game, finished with 24 and 10, and made both of his threes, which kinda makes me nervous. His PER, assist rate, and shooting percentage are all at career-highs right now. Tony's just playing wicked awesome.
1) Manu Ginobili. Too generous for a guy who went 0-of-5 in the third quarter with three turnovers, but I think he got fouled on a layup there and I'm positive Rashard Lewis bothered him on that dunk attempt. No way Gino blows that unless he got hit. He was still brilliant in the other three quarters, especially the fourth, and his step-back three gave the team a lead they would never relinquish. His nine assists and six boards were both season highs and the way he's adjusted to all of the team's big men on the P&Rs and P&Ps has really made that the bread and butter off the offense.
Up Next: Wednesday, @ Minnesota (4-11). The T-Pups are second in the league in rebounding, 25th in assists and 30th in points allowed. By all rights we should have a laugher, but we seem to have tricky games with these guys up there for whatever reason. They have an intimidating front line with Love, Beasley and the rejuvenated Darko, but their guards STINK. I'm excited about the Love-Blair match-up and I hope Pop lets it happen, with some time for Tiago too.