Your boys in the Silver & Black look to rebound after a taking a classic behind-the-woodshed whipping from the Orlando Magic. So how did they fare against the short-handed Washington Wizards?
To say defense has been a bit of an issue for the San Antonio Spurs would be an understatement. Prior to being manhandled by the Orlando Magic last Friday night, Spurs have allowed opponents to break the 100 point barrier four consecutive times while averaging 47.7% from the floor. Granted the Memphis game trekked into overtime but that was a home game against a sub .500 team missing its leading scorer, Rudy Gay. Color Pop unimpressed.
After a tough win against Denver the night before and with the Orlando Magic playing a fast and free offensive game plan featuring three new offensive weapons, the Spurs limped into the proverbial firing squad. Orlando scored 30+ points in two consecutive quarters, had seven players score in the double-digits, and shot a blistering 59.5% overall on their way to drubbing the Spurs 123 - 101. "The way I remember it, we got our butts handed to us the last time we came out and played so we got work to do," Popovich told reporters during today's shootaround.
It may be a bit of a dream to see the dominant defense that was once the hallmark of Coach Pop's Spurs but with the way San Antonio's opponents have been scoring, any improvement would be gratefully welcomed at this point. Maybe the nationally televised bare-end spanking will provide the necessary spark to bring the once defensive-minded juggernauts back to life.
They can start by feasting on the hapless 7-20 Washington Wizards (0-13 on the road), who will be without Andray Blatche (suspension) and JaVale McGree (suspension) tonight.
Washington Wizards Starting Five: Hinrich, Young, Thornton, Lewis, Armstrong
San Antonio Spurs Starting Five: Parker, Ginobili, Jefferson, Duncan, Blair
The Spurs started the quarter by going consistently, but not aggressively, into the paint. Blair and Duncan missed all of their opportunities inside until Blair finally knocked down a layup at the 9:22 mark. The Wizards athletic big men seemed to be giving the Spurs a bit of trouble and were playing the screens well. Although the Spurs obviously wanted to get their scoring in the paint, the outside shooting was clicking. Ginobili nailed three 3-PT shots before finally missing his fourth deep attempt near the end of the quarter. Washington started off hot by nailing their first four shots through decent ball movement. By the looks of it, Washington wanted to rely heavily on their backcourt's shooting off of one-on-one match-ups and high screens. There was no real interior presence on the offensive end for Washington, in fact, the first real attack in the paint (Thornton) was blocked by Richard Jefferson. The Wizards outside shots are falling decently but often enough to keep up with the Spurs constant attacks in the paint and 4-5 3PT production in the first quarter.
End of 1st Quarter, Wizards - 23 Spurs - 27
Quarter Quick Shots:
- The Spurs are alternating between man and a 1-3-1 zone defense. This is leaving the corners open and the Wizards are trying to take advantage.
- George Hill looks good in his first minutes in over a week. Hill scored on a fast break and hit a corner three.
- Duncan left the quarter 0-3 from the floor.
- Spurs need serious work on defending high screens.
From being a Bull to being run over by a bull. Tough times.
The Wizards tried to go inside early in the second quarter and did find some success with a layup and a couple free throws. Despite the early inside success, Washington stuck by their offensive game plan of high screens and one-on-one match-ups. Hinrich was the bulk of the Wizards scoring and finished the first half with 13 PTS, 6-7 FG, and 4 AST. It appeared that if San Antonio could continue playing their shooters without becoming soft in the paint, the Wizards would not be able to cover their shortcomings on defense.
San Antonio was moving the ball better than they did in the first quarter but the set plays seemed slow and a bit rough. Despite the slow play on offense, San Antonio only turned the ball over four times while producing 17 AST. The Wizards seemed content to leave the perimeter open and allowed the Spurs to take 12 threes (making 6). That, so far, has been the difference in this game.
Half Time, Wizards - 42 Spurs - 48
Quarter Quick Shots:
- Duncan hits his first shot with 5:56 left in the second quarter.
- I have not seen the Wizards run a set play.
- The Wizards have 8 assists to the Spurs 17. Wizards have four offensive boards though.
- "Where's the ****ing foul?" will be on Tim Duncan's tombstone.
- I would like to say the refs are letting the players battle it out but neither team is being particularly aggressive in the paint. Only five free throw attempts (total) in the first half.
- Spurs defense has reverted back to mostly man-to-man play.
- In the final seconds of the quarter, John Wall gets what looks like the easiest layup he will ever get.
Halftime box score via i54.tinypic.com
Pictured: Parker driving around a fallen Josh Howard. Not pictured: Manu sneezing.
In the early goings of the third quarter, the Spurs defense left a lot to be desired. There was little pressure on the backcourt which did not force any uncomfortable passes or shots from the Wizards. Slow rotations by San Antonio opened up shooters and a couple easy lanes to the basket. Washington's ball movement was crisp. How crisp? Well, after notching only eight assists in first half, the Wizards picked up four assists in the first three and a half minutes of play. The Spurs quickly picked up the hustle on defense and the Wizards began holding onto the ball longer. Open lanes and ball movement also died down and the Wizards were forced into taking tougher shots at the end of the shot clock. In the last seven minutes of the third quarter, San Antonio's defense only allowed five more baskets.
San Antonio continued to enjoy a relaxed perimeter defense by Washington, hitting 4-5 from deep (10-17 overall) in the 3rd quarter. Led by a driving Tony Parker, the Spurs picked up the tempo in the final five minutes and started going to the rim with more aggression. As a result, the Spurs found themselves at the line for the first time in the game and finished the quarter 8-10 from the charity stripe. The Spurs outscored the Wizards 33 - 23 in third and look like they'll run away with this one if their able to sustain such an aggressive attack.
End of 3rd Quarter, Wizards - 65 Spurs - 81
Quarter Quick Shots:
- Parker picked up the attack in the second half of the quarter and earned the Spurs first FTA with 4:41 left in quarter.
- In his first game back from injury, George Hill looked good: 11 PTS, 3-3 FG, 2-2 3PT, 2 AST, and 1 STL
- In the final minutes, the Wizards held the ball too long and took tough shots.
- Tim Duncan was having a frustrating night on offense against the Wizards athletic front court: 5 PTS, 2-9 FG, 0 O-REB.
- DeJuan Blair had four straight offensive rebounds against four Wizards before finally making a put back (odd that he was only credited for one on the play.)
Its OK, Tim. We're no longer playing the Magic. You can come out now.
The fourth quarter started similar to the early portion of the third; Washington moved the ball around unharassed and got the ball deep into the paint even easier than before. After giving up seven points within the first three minutes, the Spurs defense shut down the passing lanes, pestered the ball handler, and allowed only 2 points (Howard free throws) between the 9:30 and 4:00 minute marks. The Wizards scored only 15 points in the final quarter, shooting 5-25, and committing 5 turnovers.
Although they maintained their aggressiveness, San Antonio fared no better on the offensive end; scoring only 13 points on 5-18 shooting and 5 turnovers of their own. In the end, Pop got what he wanted out of this game; a win, better defense, and plenty to chastise his players about.
Lets just hope this is a tune up for an angry Kobe Bryant and an under-achieving Lakers squad.
Final, Wizards - 80 Spurs - 94
Quarter Quick Shots:
- Although struggling from deep, Neal was 3-4 inside the arc and moved the ball well.
- I'm starting to pay more attention to Neal's passing. He side-armed the ball across the baseline, corner to corner, at 100 mph straight into his teammate's chest.
- Wizards wanted to shoot their way back into the game via the deep ball. Spurs solid perimeter defense only allowed 1-4 from deep and forced Wizards to look elsewhere.
- Tiago entered the game for the first time with 5:30 left in the game.
- Parker finished the night with 14 AST, one short of his season high.
- Spurs were scoreless for four minutes but held Washington to 2-6 in same stretch.
- I'm no Chip Engelland but Udoka's release looks late.
- Duncan did not play in the final 14 minutes of the game.
- Combined shooting for the fourth quarter? 10-43. Ouch.
Rashard Lewis is introduced to the infamous "Ginger Slap."
Wizards' Three Stars
- Kirk Hinrich: 15 PTS, 7-10 FG, 1-1 3PT, 7 AST, 2 STL, 4 TO (-9)
- Rashard Lewis: 21 PTS, 8-19 FG, 4-8 3PT, 12 REB, 2 AST, 1 STL (-8)
- Al Thornton: 11 PTS, 5-10 FG, 3 REB (-6)
Spurs Three Stars
- Tony Parker: 20 PTS, 8-15 FG, 1-2 3PT, 14 AST, 6 REB, 1 STL, 3 TO (+16)
- Manu Ginobili: 21 PTS, 8-13 FG, 5-7 3PT, 3 STL (-1)
- Gary Neal: 9 PTS, 4-10 FG, 0-5 3PT, 2 REB, 1 STL (+12)
Best of the Best from the Best
what kind of incriminating pictures does ime have of Popovich?
Udoka made a shot.
::looks outside for comet::
RJ just airballed a three. Udoka feels a little better about himself.
Final Quick Shots:
- With as bad of a game Duncan was having, why did it take so long for Tiago to see minutes?
- But it's not like Tiago did much in his five plus minutes though: 0-2 FG, 1 REB, 1 BLK, and 2 TO.
- I can't wait for Anderson to come back. I'm done watching Udoka.
- Jefferson had a quiet game but grabbed nine boards and played decent defense.
- I'm digging DeJuan's steady improvement on defense away from basket. Still needs ton of work in the paint but I'm interested in seeing if and how he can overcome his height in the low block.
Next Game: Los Angeles Lakers vs. San Antonio Spurs. -- Tuesday, December 28th @ 7:30 PM Spurs time (CT)