While I am usually quite content to watch the Spurs games on television, my wife and I try to make it to a game once a year or so for the added experience. Due to our schedules, that usually means a Sunday evening, and last night's game fit perfectly into our schedules.We had purchased the tickets through my wife’s employer, but when we went to pick them up at Will Call there were only 3 tickets rather than the 5 we’d purchased. The ticket resolution office eventually gave us 5 tickets (split up 3 and 2) in exchange for the 3 they had been holding, while apparently giving us somewhat of an upgrade in that we were closer than we had expected. We were glad we had shown up early and still had time for dinner prior to tip-off. While thinking that likely meant a hot dog, I wound up instead with Chicken Teriyaki.
The Spurs started slowing, missing on a number of good looks. It began with Blair taking what looked like nice form on a hook shot, but it missed badly. A couple of minutes later and Blair grabbed a long rebound off a Manu miss but seemed to rush the putback, missing badly again. Jefferson scored the first 6 points for the Spurs on shots at the rims, but the scored got up to TWolves 11, RJ 6.
The momentum seemed to shift once Bonner entered the game at the 6:16 mark. By that point Love had 4 rebounds and Darko 3, while the Spurs rebounds came off long bounces. Bonner wound up with all 4 of the rebounds that occurred in the next couple of minutes, including tipping in an offensive rebound over Love. Matt wound up with 9 rebounds for the game. He and Love were in the game together for about 15 minutes overall, during which time Love had only 4 of his 17 rebounds. Love had 13 rebounds during the 20 minutes he was in without Bonner, and Matt seemed to do a good job of neutralizing Love while he was in.
Manu was the first player other than RJ to score, and then Bonner had 6 of the next 8 Spurs points (Neal with the other 2). By the end of the 1st quarter the Spurs were down 21-18 with the Spurs bench having 10 of the 18 points.
The whole game seemed like a series of scoring streaks for different Spurs. Manu scored 7 of the Spurs first 9 points to open the 2nd quarter, George getting the other 2 of FTs. After a Bonner 3, Tony took over to get the next 7 Spurs’ points with 9 of the first 11 (Manu the other 2). Tony wound up with all 11 of his points in the 2nd quarter, while Manu had 14 of his 21. The first half ended with the Spurs up 50-44.
Beasley left the game for good with 6:22 left in the 2nd quarter. He had made the first basket for the TWolves, but was limping after the shot. He had put in about another 10 minutes, but did not score again while RJ had scored 6 points during that time. The score had been tied at 31 when he left the game, so he turned out not to be much of a factor.
Tim came out strong to start the 2nd half. In the first 7 minutes he had all 8 of his points, 5 rebounds, a block and a steal. The Spurs added to Tim’s scoring with a 3 by RJ and 3 FTs by Manu. Bonner then made a nice drive with a reverse layup to put the Spurs up 66-64, and after former Spur Tolliver tied it up with a jumper the Spurs closed out the quarter with a layup by RJ, a Neal 3, and 2 FT’s by Hill. Pekovic made a FT to get the score to 74-67.
McDyess made the first 4 Spurs points in the final quarter, and after a Hill jumper Neal scored the next 8 before McDyess got his final 2. Manu made a jumper, and then Hill made 2 more FT’s (7-7 for the game) to close out the Spurs scoring with 3:24 to go and the Spurs with a 94-86 lead. After a Darko layup and Ridnour 3 to bring the score within 3, neither team scored in the last 2 minutes of the game. The TWolves had the ball and a timeout with 9 seconds left, but wound up with Tolliver taking a poor attempt at a 3 that went out of bounds with .7 seconds, game over on the Spurs inbound play.
We stuck around for the post game interview with Bill Schoening interviewing Matt Bonner as the “Impact Player of the Game”. I felt Matt was the main star for the Spurs as well as he seemed fairly effective throughout the game. I’d put Neal second with 14 points and 3 assists in his nearly 20 minutes. Manu had a good game and led the team in scoring with 21 points, though his biggest positive impact was in the 2nd quarter and his 4 turnovers hurt.
Nearly every Spur that played had their star moments other than Blair. Blair did not look all that bad while he was in but failed to make a shot and his 5 rebounds seemed mainly of the uncontested variety that bounced to him. His final rebound came from picking up Darko’s 5th block. He lost the ball and hit the ground hard while hustling after it, which seemed to knock the wind out of him and caused his exit from the game. Splitter and Quinn did not play, which was disappointing. Overall it did not seem one of the Spurs better games, but there were enough players playing well enough for long enough for the Spurs to get the win.
Our little party all had a great time at the game, it was a very pleasant overall experience being at the game.