Ah, the holidays; the one time of the year my cruel mistreatment of all things colorful, cheerful, and bright is lovingly understood and shared. No, I am not what some would call a "Christmas Scrooge." I just happen to be burned out on the Christmas theme after the first two weeks of September.
My petty issues aside, the holiday time carries the capability of creating memories that can endure a lifetime. The 2010-2011 Spurs haven’t fallen short on creating memories for us, especially in the last three games. After surviving numerous quarters of mediocre to sometimes abysmal play, the Spurs delivered to us incredible finishes now etched in memories of time. And it isn’t just Manu Claus handing out the presents to Spurs fans. Manu Claus’ little helpers and holiday friends are getting in on the action too.
So pour yourself some Hirschof-style Eggnog* and join me for tonight’s Spurs game recap.
*One part bourbon, one part rum. No, I didn't forget anything. Drink responsibly.
Charlie Brown’s Christmas tree or the holiday equivalent of Ime Udoka?
The Spurs are coming off their eighth straight win and third straight win by four or less points. Inconsistent performance with ball handling and play on defense has created some stressful and memorable moments for Spurs fans. Moments that I’m sure Coach Pop believes that should have never come to pass. In the last the three games, the Spurs defense has allowed 25 or more points in a quarter six times (28, 27, 37, 28, 31, 29). If the Spurs want to stay ahead of the best teams in the west, then they will need to develop a more consistent and positive performance on defense. We know what this team is capable of when they buckle down on D but too many times have we seen the communication, rotations, and help defense break down and disappear. The Spurs are juggernauts on offense but great defense leads to more offensive opportunities which is what the Silver and Black need when the shooters have an off day.
That being said... I can’t remember the last team that I watched that was as fluid as this Spurs team. The San Antonio Spurs have proven that they can win in any situation they find or put themselves. They have proven that a variety of players can step up and take charge, not just the big three. If it isn’t Parker, it’s Hill. If it isn’t Manu, it’s Neal. If it isn’t Duncan, it’s McDyess. And so on, and so on, and so on...
The experience and confidence garnered from the first quarter of this season will pay off big down the road.
The Phoenix Suns are a bit of a quagmire at the moment. Outside of the familiar 105+ PPG average on both sides of the ball, nothing feels right for this team. Phoenix is obviously hurting from the absence of their former deadly one-two punch combination of Nash and Stoudemire. While Warrick does provide a nice dash of athleticism at the PF position, he cannot replace the inside offensive destruction that troubled Duncan and other Spurs defenders. The Suns other FA acquisitions, Turkoglu and Childress, have not provided the impact that was expected. So much so that the Suns have decided to roll the dice by dealing Turkoglu to the Orlando Magic along with Richardson and Clark for Carter, Pietrus, and Gortat.
I am somewhat skeptical of any positive impact for Phoenix from this trade. Carter will most likely see a bit of a slight renaissance in his production on offense but after 12 long years in the NBA (including some international play) he is not the impact player he once was. A Steve Nash and Grant Hill, the NBA’s resident Dorian Gray’s, only come along once in awhile. Phoenix will not catch lightning in a bottle three times. Although Pietrus is definitely an upgrade over Childress, high expectations should be saved for another day. Mickael’s career has been marred with inconsistency and a variety of health/injury issues. Case in point, Pietrus is currently dealing with a knee joint effusion (excess fluid in the joint of the knee) and his return status is yet to be defined. Something else to note in this trade is the drastic change in 3PT production. Compare (below image) the season stats of the wing players in this trade and keep in mind that Hedo and Richardson combined for roughly 48% of the Suns made 3PT shots.
To me, Gorat might be the silver lining for Suns fans in this trade. He is a strong presence inside and can give the Suns the size to matchup against the bigger teams in the West. Whether or not he can produce in a fast-pace offense and create a presence in the league’s 29th ranked defense is unknown...
Carter, Pietrus, and Gortat completed their physicals Monday afternoon in Phoenix. Their debut with the RunGunSuns will most likely be this Thursday against the Miami Heat.
But that is neither here nor now. It is Spurs time... and it is game time.
DeJuan Blair wishes you all a Happy Holiday.
Spurs Starting Five: Parker, Ginobili, Jefferson, Duncan, Blair
Suns Starting Five: Nash, Dudley, Hill, Frye, Lopez
1st Quarter – "On, Parker! On, Quinn! On, Richard and Neal!"
- 11:43 Bad pass by Nash is tipped to Duncan by Manu.
- 11:28 Blair gets pretty reverse layup after some nice ball movement. PHX 0 - SAS 2
- 11:04 Grant Hill hits a jumper to even things. PHX 2 - SAS 2
- 10:40 Jefferson layup past Dudley. PHX 2 - SAS 4
- 10:30 Lopez tips in a Grant Hill turn-around jumper miss. PHX 4 - SAS 4
- 10:12 Lopez gets an easy layup past Duncan and is fouled. Makes FT. PHX 7 - SAS 4
- 9:27 Grant Hill gets a pull-up jumper over Manu. Both teams really want to run. PHX 9 - SAS 4
- 9:05 Parker stops a Phoenix 7-0 run with a pull-up jumper. PHX 9 - SAS 6
- 8:52 Grant Hill gets another easy jumper. PHX 11 - SAS 6
- 8:25 Duncan runs over Hill for easy layup. PHX 11 - SAS 8
- 7:40 Lopez jumper bounces in. Slowest jump shot in the world. PHX 13 - SAS 8
- 7:06 Nash gets a fast break floater over Blair. Suns are going full throttle every second. Spurs timeout. PHX 15 - SAS 8
- 6:52 Jefferson drives from corner for easy layup. PHX 15 - SAS 10
- 6:30 Parker drives and kicks to Jefferson for 3PT. PHX 15 - SAS 13
- 6:02 Frye deep 3PT miss goes straight to Grant Hill for easy layup. PHX 17 - SAS 13
- 5:19 Parker jump shot makes is PHX 17 - SAS 15
- 4:43 Dudley gets rebound off fast break layup miss. PHX 19 - SAS 15
- 4:08 Parker spin move past Nash on fast break for easy layup. PHX 19 - SAS 17
- 3:56 Nash off the glass. PHX 21 - SAS 17
- 3:33 Parker going right at Nash with leaner. PHX 21 - SAS 19
- 3:12 Dudley makes a tough 3PT over Neal. Suns are 61% on the floor so far. PHX 24 - SAS 19
- 3:12 After timeout, officials review Grant Hill layup at 6:02 and rule it void (shotclock violation) PHX 22 - SAS 19
- Warrick gets tough fall away jumper in the left corner. PHX 24 - SAS 19
- Duncan schools Frye in the low block. PHX 24 - SAS 21
- Warrick gets exact same jumper from same corner. PHX 26 - SAS 21
- Parker spins past Frye and Childress in the paint for an easy layup. PHX 26 - SAS 23
- Neal steals pass from Nash and gets fast break layup. PHX 26 - SAS 25
- Manu draws the charge on Warrick. Ah.... memories.
- Manu has iso in final seconds... Dragic fouls McDyess (non-shooting).
- Manu has iso again, gets screen from Dice, passes to Neal for 3PT attempt. Neal misses and McDyess gets the rebound and his last second jumper just beats the buzzer.
End of 1st, 26 - 27. San Antonio Spurs
The Phoenix Suns obviously want to burn the court at every opportunity. After some hot shooting early, the Spurs defense tightens up and muddies things up for the Suns fast break offense. San Antonio is getting plenty of open shots from great ball movement (and poor Suns defense) but not taking advantage (1-9 3PT). The Spurs nail the last three shots of the quarter to take the lead at the end of the first, 27 - 26. If this keeps up, the Spurs will start hitting their shots and Phoenix will be struggling to keep up.
Yet another Paparazzi snapshot of Tony and Eva...
2nd Quarter – Make sure to leave out plenty of milk and alfajores for Manu Claus.
- 11:43 Ginobili gets a jumper off a McDyess offense rebound/tip-out. PHX 26 - SAS 29
- 11:18 Dudley gets defender off his feet and hits jumper. PHX 28 - SAS 29
- 10:25 Neal gets floater coming out of the corner. PHX 28 - SAS 31
- 10:13 Dudley nails open 3Pt in the corner. PHX 31 - SAS 31
- 9:58 Neal jump shot. Gary is on fire tonight. PHX 31 - SAS 33
- 9:33 Childress gets screen and gets around McDyess and Manu for easy layup. PHX 33 - SAS 33
- 9:17 McDyess hits open jumper from Gary Neal assist. PHX 33 - SAS 35
- 9:00 Ginobili gets steal from Frye pass.
- 8:41 Matt Bonner penetrates (seriously) and draws defense (seriously) and finds Quinn for a corner 3PT. Suns timeout. PHX 33 - SAS 38
- 8:12 Neal drives into the paint and gets the basket plus foul while falling down. FT good. PHX 33 - SAS 41
- 7:55 McDyess slaps ball away from Warrick. The two tie-up for jump ball. Spurs win jump.
- 7:36 Suns are making tons of poor decisions. After Dudley lets ball bounce out of bounds, Bonner hits a 3PT. Spurs shooting 55% on the floor. PHX 33 - SAS 44
- 7:25 McDyess draws charge on Dudley.
- 7:14 Manu goes into the paint and draws foul on Grant Hill. You know the Suns are getting frustrated when Hill is livid. Manu hits both FT. PHX 33- SAS 46
- 6:55 Lopez battles for rebound and gets hook shot. Ends Spurs 13-0 run. PHX 35 - SAS 46
- 6:35 Blair loses ball and Dragic makes Spurs pay. Pop calls timeout to yell at people. PHX 37 - SAS 46
- 5:40 Dudley jumper off screen over Neal. Suns on 6-0 run. PHX 39 - SAS 46
- 5:07 Spurs playing some ugly ball. Two ugly possessions in a row followed by a Parker foul on Lopez.
- 4:34 Great movement creates bounce pass from Blair to duncan for dunk. PHX 39 - SAS 48
- 4:22 Lopez gets easy hook. PHX 41 - SAS 48.
- 3:55 Dudley gets another easy (alley-oop) layup for Suns. PHX 43 - SAS 48
- 3:24 Officials calling tons of fouls on Spurs this quarter. Pop getting a little irate. Parker leaves with 3rd foul.
- 3:16 Frye gets it up and over Duncan and Bonner for two. PHX 45 - SAS 48
- 2:55 Duncan misses jump shot. Spurs are 1-6 in the last three minutes.
- 2:41 Hill gets easy turn around jumper against Ginobili in the low block. 8-0 run for the Suns. Pop calls timeout to strangle the ball boy. PHX 47 - SAS 48.
- 2:15 Blair somehow gets foul while getting pushed in the back. In the penalty so Frye shoots FT. PHX 48 - SAS 48.
- 1:54 Ginobili gets step back corner 3PT. PHX 48 - SAS 51.
- 1:07 Hill gets a high jumper over a jumping Duncan. PHX 50 - SAS 51.
- 0:48 Ginobili misses a 3PT shot. Spurs are now 4-17 from deep. Hopefully they start doing something else.
- 0:38 Nash hits 3PT... PHX 53 - SAS 51
- 0:28 Blair makes tough floater. PHX 53 - SAS 53
- 0:05 Nash in iso, gets screen from Lopez who then rolls for alley-oop. Duncan does something to garner foul. By something, I mean nothing. PHX 54 - SAS 53
- 0:00 Ginobili misses running jumper to end half.
Half Time Suns - 54 Spurs - 53
San Antonio started the second quarter with some hot shooting and benefited from a few mental mistakes by the Phoenix Suns. The Spurs held a thirteen point lead at the 7:14 mark but forgot their offensive identity soon after. The Suns went on a 16-2 run in just under five minutes before Manu tried to take over the game by hitting a corner 3PT. Silent in the first quarter, the officials have started screaming into their whistles for the littlest things. Parker picked up a quick 3rd foul with 3:24 left in the game and the Spurs spent the last two minutes in the penalty.
Phoenix isn't doing anything on defense to stop the Spurs, San Antonio is missing open jumpers in and out of the 3PT (4-18) arc. If San Antonio wants to regain the lead and hold onto it, they will need to return to the aggressive ball movement and drives that we saw in the first quarter and early portion of the second. Phoenix has done nothing to show they can defend the paint so Parker and Manu need to feast in the lane. I'm not enjoying Duncan, Dice, and Blair being out-rebounded by the Suns front court but they have to sacrifice offensive boards to slow down the Suns fast break offense. Dudley is on fire (6-7 FG / 2-3 3PT) and the Spurs defense on the perimeter needs to shorten the leash. If the Spurs baskets won't start to fall, then they can ill-afford to let someone go crazy from deep.
It would also help if the officials stop calling fouls on invisible players (they signaled "4" on a Parker foul).
"We Elves try to stick to the four main food groups: deli, sandwiches, hoagies, and subs."
3rd Quarter – Tim Duncan, Winter Warlock.
- Duncan gets nice pas from Jefferson for easy dunk. PHX 54 - SAS 55
- 10:56 Hill jump shot PHX 56 - SAS 55
- 10:44 Duncan easy layup. PHX 56 - SAS 57
- 10:37 Duncan steal inbounds pass, finds Manu for 3PT. Quick five points for Spurs. PHX 56 - SAS 60
- 10:06 A driving Blair finds a wide-open Parker in the corner for banking 3PT. Suns are leaving at least one person wide open on the perimeter during each Spurs possession. PHX 56 - SAS 63
- 9:48 Hill gets a quick jumper to make igame PHX 58 - SAS 63.
- 9:23 Parker drives in on Nash and gets the foul. Tony hits 1/2. PHX 58 - SAS 64
- 9:08 Deep rebound to Parker created deep pass to breaking Blair. Blair misses layup but is fouled by Frye. Blair with some nice FT shots to make it PHX 58 - SAS 66
- 8:59 Parker gets his 4th foul with 9:00 left in the 3rd. This just seconds after a foul on Jefferson.
- 8:31 Jefferson drives from corner and is fouled. At least the officials are watching both teams now. RJ hits both. PHX 58 - SAS 68.
- 8:21 Another foul is called on Jefferson because Nash ran into Hill. Jefferson reacts and gets hit with tech. PHX 59 - SAS 68
- 8:05 Beautiful touch bounce pass to Duncan finds Duncan for layup. Blair is showing off with some great passing. PHX 59 - SAS 70
- 7:19 Blair battles for rebound off Duncan miss. Duncan getsa ball again for a post up score. PHX 59 - SAS 72
- 6:59 Hill loses ball to Blair and Jefferson/Blair run the court for Jefferson layup. Hill is shaken up on the play but gets up and walks. Happy for the iron man. PHX 59 - SAS 74
- 6:36 Blair works it inside and gets an easy floater. PHX 59 - SAS 76
- 6:14 Duncan tips in Neal 3PT miss. Duncan was alone for rebound. Wow. PHX 59 - SAS 78
- 5:27 After Blair travels, Nash goes down and gets hook shot to end Spurs 10-0 run. Pop calls timeout. The last few minutes have been wild, almost street ball (minus alley-oops). PHX 61 - SAS 78
- 5:13 Duncan finds Blair for easy two. Phoenix is really lost on defense. PHX 61 - SAS 80
- 4:25 Warrick blocks Blair, Suns run and Dudley is fouled driving to basket. PHX 63 - SAS 80.
- Nash hits leaner (going out of bounds). PHX 65 - SAS 80.
- Hill schools Neal with driving pull up jumper. PHX 67 - SAS 80.
- Spurs offense cooling down, no ball movement and Blair makes bad miss.
- Duncan passes it out-of-bounds towards Quinn. Spurs getting really sloppy on offense now.
- Ginobili finds Bonner underneath after Duncan screen, PHX 67 - SAS 82.
- Nash finds Childress who is fouled by Bonner. PHX 68 - SAS 82
- Duncan rebounds a Neal miss and passes back out to Neal for a wide open 3PT. PHX 68 - SAS 85
- Duncan scores easy driving layup from Jefferson. PHX 68 - SAS 87
- Lopez is fouled. Hits both FT to make it PHX 70 - SAS 87
- Jefferson draws the foul on Lopez. Jefferson hits 1/2. PHX 70 - SAS 88
- Dudley gets deep into the paint and is fouled on a scoring layup. PHX 73 - SAS 88
- Quinn hits bank shot from the wing after great ball movement from offensive rebound. PHX 73 - SAS 90
- 0:23 Dragic finds a trailing Dudley for a 3PT. PHX 76 - SAS 90
- 0:05 Neal drives from the corner and scores through three defenders and is fouled. This man can score. PHX 76 - SAS 93
- 0:00 Dragic hits fall away jumper to end the quarter. PHX 78 - SAS 93.
End of 3rd, 78 - 93. San Antonio up.
The Spurs out-rebounded the Suns in this quarter (allowing no offensive boards) which lead to extra opportunities on offense. Even though Parker left the quarter early with foul trouble, the Spurs managed to throw up a season-high 40 point quarter while holding the quick shot Suns to 24 points. San Antonio limited the mental mistakes and started attacking the paint at every opportunity. After an abysmal first half from deep for the Spurs, Duncan, Tony, and Jefferson to work in the paint and getting easy baskets. Phoenix defenders were leaving at least one Spur open on every possession, and San Antonio drove the paint and began to force Phoenix to collapse aggressively in the lane. Once the Suns' defense was in complete chaos, the Spurs began to get their shooters going (3-6 3PT this quarter). Two other important contributions in this quarter came from the bench production (10 PTS) and the easy points at the line (7-9).
I'd like to throw out a gold star to Quinn for doing a great job running the point while Parker was on the pine. Quinn, a bottom of the depth chart player, has proven over the last few games that he can also make a worthwhile contribution in meaningful minutes. This Spurs roster is incredible.
"No! No! Wait! I want more game time minutes with Manu and Tim!"
4th Quarter – You’re a mean one, Popovich.
- 11:48 Dudley hits quick jumper. PHX 80 - SAS 93
- 11:28 Parker counters with a jumper of his own. PHX 80 - SAS 95
- 11:14 Warrick jump shot. PHX 82 - SAS 95
- 10:37 Dudley gets a layup off screen. Suns can do this all the time. PHX 84 - SAS 96
- 10:14 Dragic leads break after Jefferson miss and finds Childress for layup. Pop calls timeout. PHX 86 - SAS 95
- 9:54 Driving Parker kicks out to Jefferson for 3PT. PHX 86 - SAS 98
- 9:33 Childress finds a loose ball from Warrick for an easy layup. PHX 88 - SAS 98
- 9:14 Jefferson drives and gets strong foul on Warrick. More of this, RJ. PHX 88 - SAS 100.
- 9:00 Dragic breaks Tony's ankles and gets fading jumper. PHX 90 - SAS 100.
- 8:29 Childress follows up a Dragic miss with a dunk. PHX 92 - SAS 100.
- 8:21 Grant Hill gets charge on Manu. Spurs turnover.
- 8:01 Parker drives on Dragic and earns another foul. These teams will be in penalty by 5:00 mark at this pace. Parker hits 1/2. PHX 92 - SAS 101.
- 7:34 Deja Vu. Parker drives on fast break against Dragic and gets to the line. Parker hits both. PHX 92 - SAS 103.
- 7:00 Warrick drives and then pulls up for layup against McDyess. Scores and gets foul. PHX 95 - SAS 103.
- 6:37 Ginobili makes sweet side step in the paint for easy layup. PHX 95 - SAS 105.
- 6:13 Ginobili bumped by Warrick (non-shooting foul), Spurs looking to slow their possessions down.
- 5:39 Bonner leaves Nash wide open for 3PT. Warrick was backing down Parker... PHX 98 - SAS 105.
- 5:10 McDyess tips out Parker miss to earn Spurs another possession. Nothing comes of it (Manu 3PT miss).
- 4:23 Duncan schools Warrick in the low post. Easy layup. PHX 98 - SAS 107
- 4:09 Childress can't handle pass from Nash, Neal steals ball and is fouled. Suns are now in the penalty. Neal hits both FT. Neal now has 17 PTS, a new career high. PHX 98 - SAS 109.
- 3:56 Duncan blocks Childress.
- 3:49 Duncan blocks Childress.
- 3:48 Bonner blocks Childress. Bless his heart. Neal fouled by Hill while going for ball. Neal hits both FT. PHX 98 - SAS 111.
- 3:08 Neal hits pull up jumper after Duncan drives and dish. Neal pushed point total to 21. Great job, rookie. Suns call a timeout. PHX 98 - SAS 113
- 2:55 Nash to Childress for driving dunk. PHX 100 - SAS 113
- 2:22 Childress tips in Dudley miss. Suns are running their hearts out. PHX 102 - SAS 113.
- 2:00 Parker misses jumper (goes out-of-bounds). SPurs slowing it down but need to score...
- 1:44 Dudley misses 3PT(thank god) and the Spurs gain control.
- 1:14 After Manu turnover, Frye misses 3Pt shot.
- 0:53 Ginobili is fouled in the paint. PHX 102 - SAS 114.
- 0:48 Neal fouls Dudley in the paint. Amazingly enough, misses a FT. PHX 103 - SAS 114.
- 0:47 Neal is fouled on purpose by Dudley. Really, Phoenix? Hits 1/2 FT. PHX 103 - SAS 115.
- 0:38 Nash finds trailing Hill all alone for 3PT. PHX 106 - SAS 115.
- 0:37 Bonner is fouled on purpose. Hits 1/2 FT. PHX 106 - SAS 116.
- 0:30 Childress gets an easy layup after Nash assist. PHX 108 - SAS 116.
- 0:26 Ginobili is fouled by Frye. Manu hits both FT. Thank you! PHX 108 - SAS 118.
- 0:20 Nash gets wide open lane to rim. PHX 110 - SAS 118.
- 0:00 Phoenix will not foul, decides Pop has been held long enough from his wine. Game over.
Spurs Win!: 118 - 110. (Record improves to 24-3)
The Spurs get another strong performance from the bench this quarter with Gary Neal scoring 7 of his career high 22 points. Although San Antonio tried to keep with the same formula that opened up a fifteen point lead in the 3rd quarter (play smart, be aggressive, and try not to look too stupid when Nash does something), Phoenix picked up the pace even more and starting slicing the Spurs defense with high screens and trailing 3PT shots on the fast break. The Spurs managed to keep Phoenix at bay by winning the battle on the boards and getting to the line, hitting 9-10 prior to Phoenix's foul frenzy at the end of the quarter (Spurs finished quarter 14-18 FT).
With the Spurs riding a franchise high 24-3 record and their second 9 game winning streak* this season, one has to think about the measures to which Popovich will go to level his players out over the Christmas week.
*The San Antonio Spurs are the eighth team in NBA history to have two separate nine game winning streaks prior to January 1st of the season.
"Blast this Christmas music. It's joyful and triumphant."
Post-Game Wrap-up: I saw Mommy kissing Manu Claus...
Suns’ Three Stars
- Jared Dudley: 27 PTS, 10-16 FG, 3-7 3PT, 4-5 FT, 5 REB, 3 AST, 2 STL, 1 BLK
- Grant Hill: 19 PTS, 9-17 FG, 1-1 3PT, 4 REB, 2 AST, 2 STL
- Steve Nash: 17 PTS, 7-11 FG, 2-5 3PT, 10 AST, 3 TO
Spurs’ Three Stars
- Tim Duncan: 20 PTS, 10-17 FG, 15 REB, 6 AST, 2 STL, 3 BLK
- Gary Neal: 22 PTS (career high), 7-14 FG, 1-6 3PT, 7-8 FT, 3 REB, 4 AST
- Tony Parker: 19 PTS, 7-14 FG, 1-3 3PT, 3 REB, 4 AST
The Manu Mind Meld: Deadly, even at a distance.
In a bold rebounding attempt, Gary Neal breaks several planes of reality to gain leverage over Dragic.
Best of the Best from the Best
Neal is SHOCKING THE WORLD
Seriously, we are putting QUinn on the floor just to #### up with their minds and for ####s and giggles. Oposing teams must think "awww how cute, he thinks he is an nba player.. OH #### swishh"
That’s what happens when I’m not around for a few games. I see non-English comments and my brain processes them as words spoken through major dental work.
Five Quick Shots: I’m a Pop-a-Shot Master.
- DeJuan Blair has a loooong way to go before he can join the big three in HEB commercials.
- Quinn finished +19 in 15:17 minutes of play. Pop has his bench.
- I'm going to hunt for Grant Hill's and Steve Nash's paintings.
- Blair's touch has gone from "BLAIR SMASH" to just the right amount. Shots/rebounds aren't ricocheting anymore.
- Someone please blow up the American Airlines Center.
God bless us, everyone!