Game 18, @ LA: Clippers 90-85 (Record 15-3) RAGE: +3
2:53 a.m., ugh. I really mean it this time, I'm not gonna spend too much time on this one.
Frankly, I'm not all that upset we lost. If you are, I kinda question your intelligence. The guys were just flat out exhausted. Ran up and down too much the night before at Oakland. If the schedule was reversed and we played the Clippers first, we'd have beaten them -- actually more like slaughtered them -- and gone down the next night at Oakland. The only difference is then Stampler would've been sad, so I'm glad it worked out the way it did. I do have a couple of predictable concerns, but they're more off the court things than on, and we'll get to them after the jump.
First, we have more important business to discuss...
That's right, ladies and germs, it's time to hand out the PtR Spurs MVP of the Month award for November! Yay! As you're aware, November was a very successful month for the Spurs, as they went 14-1 and raped and pillaged their way to impressive road wins at Phoenix, Oklahoma City, Utah and New Orleans, while also defending their honor at home against the likes of Orlando and Chicago. They entered December a league-best 15-2, which was about four games better than I thought they'd be, and I was more optimistic than most of you.
If you don't know - and why should you since I just thought of the formula 15 minutes ago - the method for figuring out the monthly MVP is to give one point for every third star earned during the month, three points for every second star and five points for every first star. Makes sense, right? Of course it does. It's completely scientific and not at all arbitrary.
So the Manu Ginobili Trophy for PtR Spurs MVP of the for the month of November goes to...
you guessed it! MANOOOOOOOOH GEENOHBEELEEEEEEEEE.
:: crowd goes wild::
Manu led the Spurs in October/November with 41 Three Stars points, easily out-distancing second place finisher Timmeh the Golden God who had 27 and The Philandering Frenchman who had 21.
Here are the complete results:
10/28 Vs. Ind W 1-0 1. Tim (5) 2. Manu (3) 3. Hill (1).
10/30 Vs. NO L 1-1 1. RJ (5) 2. Hill (4) 3. Neal (1).
11/1 @ LAC W 2-1 1. Neal (6) 2. RJ (8) 3. Dice (1).
11/3 @ Phx W 3-1 1. Tim (10) 2. RJ (11) 3. Manu (4).
11/6 Vs. Hou W 4-1 1. Tony (5) 2. Manu (7) 3. Dice (2).
11/8 @ Cha W 5-1 1. Neal (11) 2. Manu (10) 3. Tim (11).
11/10 Vs. LAC W 6-1 1. Tiago (5) 2. Anderson (3) 3. Tony (6).
11/13 Vs. Phi W 7-1 1. Tony (11) 2. Blair (3) 3. Manu (11).
11/14 @ OKC W 8-1 1. Rocket (5) 2. Manu (14) 3. Hill (5).
11/17 Vs. Chi W 9-1 1. Tim (16) 2. Manu (17) 3. Rocket (6).
11/19 @ Uta W 10-1 1. Tim (21) 2. Tony (14) 3. Blair (4).
11/20 Vs. Cle W 11-1 1. Tiago (10) 2. Manu (20) 3. Tony (15).
11/22 Vs. Orl W 12-1 1. Manu (25) 2. Tony (18) 3. Rocket (7).
11/24 Vs. Min W 13-1 1. Manu (30) 2. Tony (21) 3. Neal (12).
11/26 Vs. Dal L 13-2 1. Hill (10) 2. Manu (33) 3. Tim (22).
11/28 @ NO W 14-2 1. Manu (38) 2. Hill (15) 3. RJ (12)
11/30 @ GS W 15-2 1. Tim (27) 2. Manu (41) 3. Blair (5).
Totals: Manu 41, Tim 27, Tony 21, Hill 15, Neal 12, RJ 12, Tiago 10, Rocket 7, Blair 5, Anderson 3, Dice 2.
1st Star: Tim 5, Manu 3, Neal 2, Tiago 2, Tony 2, Hill, RJ, Rocket.
2nd Star: Manu 8, Tony 3, Hill 2, RJ 2, Anderson, Blair.
3rd Star: Blair 2, Dice 2, Hill 2, Manu 2, Neal 2, Rocket 2, Tim 2, Tony 2, RJ.
For those of you nerds who want some hard core proof of Manu's Manu-ness, his numbers for November were 21.8 points per game on 49% shooting, including 41.4% from downtown and 89.9% from the charity stripe. He also averaged 4.9 helpers, 3.9 boards and 2.0 steals. His PER as at 25.88, which would easily be a career-high for him if he maintained that pace (*SPOILER ALERT* NOT GONNA HAPPEN) and he's third in the league, but first among shooting guards, fobs and players who Bellasa would totally bone*. I asked John Hollinger in a chat if Manu is his MVP for November and he had him second behind somebody named "Dwight Howard," whoever that is.
* I could be wrong about this, but I don't think I am.
Again, a round of applause for Manu. Let him hear it.
Okay, now that that's out of the way, let's briefly discuss our Washington Generals impersonation against the Clips. As I stated above, the guys were gassed. I don't blame Ginobili for anything (it would be plain rude to do so when we just handed him an award) and SEGABABA performances like these illustrate why Timmeh should probably just skip them altogether because him actually playing accomplishes so little.
His stats for three SEGABABAs:
11/14 @ OKC 23 min, 6 pts, 2-7 FG, 2-4 FT, 4 rebs, 1 asst, 3 blk, 0 stl, 0 TO.
11/20 Vs. Cle 17 min, 8 pts, 3-9 FG, 2-2 FT, 3 rebs, 5 assts, 1 blk, 0 stl, 1 TO.
12/1 @ LAC 31 min, 8 pts, 2-8 FG, 4-4 FT, 5 rebs, 3 assts, 1 blk, 1 stl, 3 TO.
Avg 23.6 min, 7.3 pts, 7-24 FG (29.1%), 8-10 FT (80%), 4.0 rebs, 3.0 assts, 1.6 blks, 0.3 stls, 1.3 TOs.
Analysis: Not good.
So forget them two. Let's talk about Tony. It doesn't matter that he's been in the league forever. He's still only 28. He is healthy. He had all summer to rest. We need him to carry us through the regular season in general and SEGABABAs in particular. No matter what is going on with his personal life, it is INEXCUSABLE for him to play this terribly, this effortlessly.
The past four games he's been in a complete fog on the court, as if he'd rather be anywhere and doing anything besides playing. He is sloppy, unfocused, way too willing to defer and float and indecisive. He was awful against Dallas, sharper at New Orleans though not aggressive, so-so at Oakland and flat out abysmal tonight.
In his past four games Tony's averaging 7.25 points on 32.5% shooting (13-of-40), with 5 assists and 2.5 turnovers per game. When has a healthy Parker ever played four full games and averaged only 10 shot attempts per? Something is definitely wrong with him. It's not "he's looking to get others involved" or "he's deferring to a red-hot Manu."
He is simply not with us.
The Spurs were down 48-40 after a miserable final six minutes of the second quarter where they couldn't do anything right on either end of the floor, and you know Pop was on them to jump out to a good start in the second half, as has been our norm. What does Tony do? dribbledribbledribbledribbledribble before telegraphing a post entry that Blake Griffin easily intercepted and turned into a layup the other way. An exasperated Pop motioned for Hill to check in for him immediately before cooler heads prevailed, but it didn't matter. He yanked Tony soon after an he was done for the night with 9:32 to go in the third quarter.
Whatever's wrong with Tony right now is mental, not physical, and it's obvious that he is not communicating his problems with Pop, or being dishonest at the very least. I don't think I'm starting a conspiracy theory to suggest his issues are related to his recent divorce. Maybe he was in denial for a few days and the weight of what's happening to him finally hit home a week ago. He looks like a broken, empty vessel of a man. Really, I wouldn't be surprised if he took a leave from the team to get his head right, or if the team requested it - perhaps demanded it - of him. Pop is generally a sympathetic figure with his players, especially ones like Tony he has a long history with, but he will not tolerate, for any reason, a guy who isn't playing hard on the floor.
Tony needs to figure out a way to leave his problems at home and get back to being his regular self on the court, and he needs to do so immediately. Enough is enough. He got his ass kicked by a bloated Baron Davis and didn't even try to score against him, when he should've left Boom-Dizzle in the dust. Hopefully we'll see a different Parker on Friday night. Maybe he'll respond to some home cheers.
Aside from Frenchy, the main other principal on our side worth discussing was Rocket. I know it's fashionable to hate him right now, but honestly I don't know why anyone would be upset with him. What did he do wrong, exactly? On defense Pop had him guarding a guy who is so much bigger, faster and stronger than him that he might as well be a different species. Griffin can practically jump over Bonner's head. Bonner guarded him as well as he possibly could and his only mistake, if anything was that he probably didn't foul Griffin enough.
Rocket rebounded well on both ends and on offense he took six wide open shots. It's not like he tried to miss them on purpose. He took the shots he was supposed to take. What good would he be to anyone if he passed them up? It's a credit to his development that he kept taking them. A couple years ago if Bonner missed his first two shots, he'd shut it down for the night and play hot potato with the ball before being mercifully benched. At least now he has some confidence, which is the most important thing.
As both a fan and a reporter, I always wrestle with the philosophical debate of what is fair game to criticize about a player and what isn't. Bonner did not lack effort and didn't have any mental breakdowns. He wasn't soft or lazy or selfish or whatever other character flaws we assign athletes. He was just bad. Do we get upset with him for being bad? Are we entitled to, when he's trying as hard as he can?
The columnists I know have no problem with this dilemma. They don't deal in sentiment. For them full effort and professionalism isn't something to be applauded in athletes but rather what should be the norm. They tell me this isn't little league. If a guy sucks then it's okay to say he sucks. As long as you don't get personal, any criticism of things that happen between the lines is fair game.
I'm curious to read what y'all feel about this.
Anyway the Clips. I wasn't impressed by them. At all. I think the Spurs were caught a bit flatfooted that Davis decided to launch his comeback against them. He made a difference against an uninspired Parker. Griffin is obviously a sensational talent, a guy with Karl Malone's body, LeBron's athleticism and Amar'e Stoudemire's single-minded determination to want to dunk everything. He's just nasty right now and once he learns how to shoot a 15-footer, he'll be completely unguardable.
Still, I don't like him. He's a bully. He looks like a bully and he plays like one. He's arrogant. There is no humility, no "aw shucks" in him at all. He's great and he knows he's great, and he treats the other players on the court, even the opposition who are ten-year veterans, perennial All-Stars and future Hall-of-Famers without the least bit of respect. He gestures to the refs and whines about calls like an entitled brat. Maybe he thinks the year he spent on the shelf injured means he doesn't pay his dues, but that's baloney. He's a punk.
I was disappointed that we weren't more aggressive with him. We should've fouled him hard a couple of times. Not in a dirty, flagrant way, but just to let him know we were there. Letting any guy get seven dunks on you is inexcusable and I'm surprised Pop stood for it. Maybe his CIA brain thought, "Screw it, we're gonna lose anyway, let him dunk all he wants against us so he'll have less incentive to develop his game."
Who the hell knows?
Your three stars:
3. Gary Neal - Played hard, competed, made some shots to keep the team in the game. He does not always play smart, but he is not afraid and it 's very easy to see why Pop's warmed up to him right away.
2. Manu Ginobili - His tank was almost completely empty, but he did all he could in this one. Could've had 12, 13 assists, he kept setting up guys for wide open shots. He might have had his legs in the fourth if he got some help earlier in the game.
1. George Hill - It sure would be something if we could get him and Tony to play well at the same time. Hill was about the only guy we had who played a lick of defense. We played nekkid with him running the show and it didn't even go that badly.
Up Next: Friday, Vs. Minnesota (4-14). They got killed today at Dallas and they're 1-9 on the road. Hopefully after this game we'll be up for them from the beginning and won't let them get out to a 20 point lead. Holding Darko-Love to under 45-30 would be nice too. Start of a long home stand. So much for that 22-2 start, eh?