You might remember the previous game against the Nuggets. There was a small amount of controversy about the final play of the game. So tonight's game was a chance for Denver to exact a small measure of revenge for such an egregious flop. It pleases me to no end that said revenge did not occur.
I'll admit that I didn't see the entire first half. Fortunately, modern technology allows me to rewatch the game with the touch of a fingertip. Unfortunately, I can still hear Scott Hastings. MAKE IT STOP!
Altitude, the Denver network that shows the Nuggets and Avalanche, had a poll tonight for the Biggest Flopper in the NBA. Manu won in a landslide (81%) over such luminaries as Chris Paul and Vujacic.
The ugliest good shooter in the NBA.
Nuggets Post Game show in reference to Bonner
Granted the previous quote is in regard to Bonner, but it's applicable to the Spurs as a whole. This team is winning, but it sure hasn't been pretty. Never has a 10 game winning streak been the cause of so many heart attacks. My stomach is still tied in knots! The Spurs need to have more consideration for their fans. ;)
Denver starts off fast, scoring the first 4 points, but Manu buries two 3s and the Spurs pull even at 8-8. Then the most amazine thing happens - Splitter enters the game (SPOILER: He plays significant minutes)! The rest of the quarter consists of back and forth play, highlighted by several Ginobili daggers and TIAGOALS. In a foreshadowing of the 3rd quarter, we leave JR Smith open for several jumpers. Both teams were disjointed, not able to put together a significant run, even though Manu and Tony score 11 and 8 points, respectively.
Tiago: 4 pts, 4 rebounds
End of the 1st: Nuggets 27-26
After some good defense and a driving Neal layup, it seemed as if the Spurs might start to pull away. It was not to be. Lawson proved once again that he's the antidote to our interior defense, with some nice drives down the lane. However, we countered with the Nailgun , who hit long balls on consecutive possessions.
After a timeout, where Pop yelled about the defense, Bonner was fouled shooting a 3. The Sandwich Man missed all three FTs. This is not good. Lawson again drives the lane, and Pop continues to yell (but the Nuggets bench gets called for a tech - hee hee). The Spurs continue to pass the ball well on offense, getting open shots, but the rim has obviously been Saran Wrapped, except for 3 alley oops to RJ. The rest of the quarter has the same back and forth feel of the 1st quarter, with neither team being able to pull away.
Tiago: 1 rebound in 37 seconds of play
Neal: 3-5 FGs, 2-2 3-Pt FG, 9 Pts
End of 2nd: Spurs 59-56
Aah, the 3QC. How we have not missed you. I rewatched the entire quarter to see if I could find a really nice play by the Spurs. Any possibility was obliterated by the fact that the team decided to STOP PLAYING DEFENSE! Everyone in the NBA knows that J.R. Smith has knucklehead tendencies, but when he's on, he can hit from anywhere on the floor. In the span of 8:17 minutes, Smith proceeds to score 16 points on 6-7 shooting (4-4 from behind the arc). Meh. The one bright spot was Splitter showcasing his offensive post skills in the last 4 minutes of the quarter (he loves the backboard).
Tiago: 4 pts, 1 rebound
End of the 3rd: Nuggets 89-80
As this point, I'm sincerely doubting if the Spurs can pull this one out. I'm happy to have been wrong.
The Spurs come out at the beginning of the 4th with a lineup of Quinn, Neal, Ginobili, Bonner and Splitter. Another one of Pop's crazy lineup experiments, right? WRONG! Slowly but surely, the pine riders chip away at the lead by playing interior defense and timely shooting. At the 9:30 mark, CIA Pop threw out another wrinkle - zone defense. With Splitter anchoring the middle, the zone fully discombobulated the Nuggets for the next 3 minutes. The starters came back in to try to close out the game, but it wasn't until Neal hit a couple of daggers in the last 2 minutes that the game was finally decided.
Tiago: 4 pts, 3 rebounds
Neal: 10 pts, 2-3 3-pt FG
End of the 4th: SPURS WIN! SPURS WIN! 79-3 still possible.
- Nene needs to cut his hair or change the style. It just ain't working, big fella.
- The Nuggets might be better without Carmelo on the court - at least the ball movement is.
- Tiago had his best game of the year. Although he's still raw, the BBIQ is there, especially with regard to positioning on the court and lateral defense. He has good footwork, which is imperative for a big man.
- The Spurs need to stop the defensive lapses. Playing only one quarter of old-school D will not cut it against better teams. The team needs to start games with the requisite intensity - not just crank it up when trailing.
- The offensive machine keeps rolling, particularly with the secondary fast breaks. However, we still sometimes take ill-advised shots in the half-court sets.
- BAM is here to stay. Heaven help the rest of the league when Hill and Anderson get healthy.
Your Three Stars
- Gary Neal - The Nail has icewater in his veins. Gary doesn't care if you posterize him; Gary cares if his team wins. And Gary scores 22 points on 7-12 shooting (5-7 from beyond the arc).
Manu Ginobili - Another ho-hum performance of 22 points, 4 boards & 6 assists. Once again, Manu showed his versatility by leading the bench lineup that was so successful in the 4th.
Tiago Splitter - The Brazilian Big Man showed his potential with a 12 point, 9 rebound performance in 21 minutes. Welcome to the League!
SEGABABA at Orlando. Despite the wholesale changes to the Magic roster, this game will not be easy. Not only do the Spurs have to fly cross-country, but Tony, Manu and RJ all played over 35 minutes tonight.