Author's Note: So this got posted late last night. I think it was pulled for mild objectionable content. I respect that decision and the offending content has been removed.
So I was at the game. Boring really. The Spurs pulled away early. Unlike previous games they didn’t fade. Not sure if we should crop it up to a good game, the turning point in the season , or if this is just what happens the game after your coach is so disappointed in you that he fire’s himself. Dunleavy really should of just had a press conference declaring, "I’d rather be unemployed than coach you." Walking up to the stadium I had a moment when I realized that Blake Griffin was adorning my Clippers ticket. Ahh, the Clippers a team of such lost potential. Only a few years ago they made the conference finals. Elton Brand looked to be the next big thing, the Brand-Baron Davis matching promising to propel the Clippers to a new level of basketball supremacy. Oh well. Tonight they got romped.
I just can't take it anymore!
Not too much to tell. The substantial difference in this game was turnovers and three pointers. They outrebounded us(by 1), by the end of the game shooting percentage was about the same (though the first quarter was something like 60% to 20%). What really mattered was the 21-12 turnover disparity and the extra 10 3-pointers we made (I hear those count for more). This is the kind of thing I always wonder about. Did we just not commit turnovers or did they not force them? We had a lead early and everyone looked like they felt pretty comfortable. Does that just lend itself to calm and collected play? If this was a close game would be slinging the ball across the court to no one in particular? I don’t really know.
Anyways, time to review. The first quarter belonged to none other than the one and only George Hill, increasingly the Spurs’ emotional and spiritual leader (other than Timmy and Manu, and Tony maybe). He dropped points like nobody’s business. Though he started with Tony, he played the clear shooting guard position, repeatedly lining up on the three-point line and knocking down 20 foot jumpers from the elbow. Hill increasingly reminds me of Trevor Ariza from last year’s Lakers. He was a solid shooter, one of their best perimeter defenders, and always a reliable guy to have around in crunch time. He never really became a game changer or the go to guy, but at the end of the game you’d look up and he’d have 20 points, 4 assists, 5 rebounds, and 2 steals. George isn’t there yet, but I also don’t think he’s overrated. The other star was Dice. He was very active on defense getting steals, strips, and tips, while showing off a serious array of crafty post-moves. His 8 points diminish the role he really played in affecting this game. He looked good. Midway through the first the score hit 4-16. It was clear the Clippers were in for a long night.
Can I be a spiritual leader too? No rookie you can't but
The rest of the game was basically garbage time. Really. Tim basically didn’t see playing time in the second half. Pop broke out some interesting lineups including, if I remember correctly, Ginobili-Dice-Mace-Blair- Bonner. I don’t think I’m kidding. It was like the opposite of small-ball. I wasn’t sure what to think, but Bonner did not hesitate to launch about a million three-pointers. He even drove the ball a few times including a very nice floater in the second quarter and a blatant travel in the third. If the Clippers had anything to feel good about it was a number of rather embarrassing looking blocks they got on the following Spurs, Blair, Parker, and I think Ginobili. Michael Finley played and still definitely has a nice jumper. It was good to see Ratliff get some serious playing time (8 minutes) and honestly I don’t understand why we don’t play him more. The dude is a human-pogo stick. He just gets so high up off the ground. He goes for every shot within 15 feet of the basket. Leaps up over the backs of defenders to get bids on these shots. Didn’t look too bad on offense either, though he was playing during super-duper garbage time (actually a specific stat kept by hoopsdata.com).
Not sure there is really anything to learn from this game, other than the Spurs are better than the Clippers, or the Clippers are not a very good team right now. They weren’t playing very hard and everything was clicking. I’m sure Monday will be a much more legitimate test of San Antonio’s progress or regression as a contender. On a side note, Richard Jefferson continues to depress. It is not so much that I feel we are worse without him, I just had higher hopes than that. His salary along should justify more. He got a few steals and did a few impressive athletic things, but never seemed to be comfortable with the defense, the offense, really anything.
I have a proposition for Gregg Popovich, cause I’m sure he not only reads this blog but actively takes coaching advice from those who write here. Pick a game, like this one. A game we are not too concerned that we will lose. Make RJ the primary, if not sole, option on offense. Just have him drive or shoot every single play. Here’s my thought. Maybe he’ll remember that he is in fact a legitimate and impressive basketball player. We saw it for about one game early in the season. He wouldn’t have to worry about fitting into the system because he would be the system. He’d have Tony, Manu, Tim, and Blair to back him up. Maybe it would work. Likely it wouldn’t but then what’s the worst that could happen? 2 of 9 shooting for 5 points, 1 assist and 1 rebound…oh wait, that was tonight.
Going off statistical-probability I'm just gonna assume that this shot didn't go in.
Your 3 stars.
3) Antonio McDyess – See above, Active on defense, solid on offense, everything we’ve been hoping from him.
2) Tony Parker- 14 assists from Tony is good enough for second place any day.
1) George Hill – The game’s leading scorer and he had 16 in the first quarter. George was easily on track to hit 30 and a career high before he got pulled. Active on defense in the Spurs’ best defensive game in recent history.