With the Spurs spending nearly a month away from the AT&T Center, my contributions to Pounding the Rock have been... scarce. I’ve been put on the shelf, slowly collecting dust while awaiting my next assignment and, possibly, next harassment at the hands of Coach Pop. But, lo and behold, PtR was in a bind and needed someone to take on tonight’s recap of the action at The Palace of Auburn Hills – someone intelligent, witty, and colorful. They couldn’t find anyone, so they turned to me for a hack-cap.
How did your NBA best-record San Antonio Spurs look tonight? Take the jump.
The Spurs begin the east coast swing of the Rodeo Road Trip tonight after concluding the western portion a respectable 2-1. After a flat performance against Portland, the Spurs knocked out a last second victory against the Lakers and followed it up with a dominating performance over the Sacramento Kings. The two victories, and more importantly, the three days’ rest couldn’t have come at a better time for San Antonio. Tonight’s match against Detroit is the first of the six game east coast trip and the first game of four in a five day span. With such a narrow window for travel and rest, even the bottom of the bench will be feeling a little weary by the time they roll into New Jersey on Feb. 14th. Setting the pace and taking control early will be key for the Spurs as they face five straight sub-.500 teams (combined 83-170) before capping off the road trip against the tough 34-16 Chicago Bulls. Basically, the goal is to get the vets maximum fourth quarter lounge time while letting the bench get some much needed minutes on the floor. With a tough March (10 games against plus-.500 teams) right around the corner, the Spurs need every bit of rest they can scrounge up.
The Spurs’ current worries must sound like a tropical paradise to Pistons’ fans, who have been besieged with pedestrian play intertwined with in-house bickering – most notably the current feud between Coach Kuester and Rip Hamilton. To be honest, I’m not sure exactly what the problem is at The Palace. All I can tell you is that, for a professional sports team, it has been going on for far too long. The product coming out of that Detroit locker room is slowly descending to the same level of irritation as John Mason’s in-game bellowing. Even though he played in the Pistons’ last game against New Jersey, Hamilton’s status for tonight was still uncertain. "Hamilton (groin) will be a game-time decision" is the -cough- official status. If Hamilton does play tonight, it will be his first home game since Jan. 8th against the Philadelphia 76ers.
Coach Kuester and Rip Hamilton have been going at it for most of the season.
Game time. Spurs time.
Detroit Pistons Starting Five: Gordon, McGrady, Prince, Monroe, Wallace
San Antonio Spurs Starting Five: Parker, Ginobili, Jefferson, Duncan, Blair
Detroit attempted to start the game by establishing Prince early and often - sending him off screens and going one-on-one against Richard Jefferson. Prince struggled against Jefferson's defense so the Pistons turned their attention to attacking the lane. Greg Monroe had no trouble slipping past the Spurs' front court and was receiving quick passes and catching offensive boards for some easy scoring. Outside of Parker, the Spurs struggled to get their offense flowing primarily due to sloppy ball movement - five turnovers in the first quarter.
End of 1st Quarter, Spurs - 26 Pistons - 25
Quarter Quick Shots:
- The Pistons tried to go through Prince early but Jefferson played him well.
- So far, Monroe is eating the Spurs alive in the paint. 3-4 with 10 PTS and 4 REB.
- Through 10 minutes, Parker 4-4 with 11 PTS, 3 STL, and 1 AST.
- Bonner sees his first court time in 10 games at the 0:42.3 mark.
- Spurs sloppy play on offense (5 TO) really hindered any chance of building a lead.
The Spurs' interior defense continues to struggle against drives and passes into the paint. Both teams getting into the paint and working the screens. 3 of Detroit's first 4 baskets in this quarter were layups. Two of those layups had a free throw attached to the end of it. As bad as that sounds, Detroit's defense fared no better against the Spurs. 6 of the Spur's 9 baskets in the quarter came from within 10 ft of the basket. Even though passes are still "off," the Spurs did not turn the ball over as much as they did in the 1st. The Spurs had a 9-0 run late in the quarter prior to giving up a Prince 3PT shot.
Half Time, Spurs - 52 Pistons - 51
Quarter Quick Shots:
- Bonner's first shot is a deep 2 point shot from the corner... its good.
- Bonner's first awkward possession in the paint comes shortly after.
- Spurs lane defense is horrible... Pistons not much better themselves.
- Gary Neal left quarter early (8:24) with 3 PF.
- Pop gave Neal an earful a few (game) minutes later.
- Manu with a rough 1st half: 1 PT, 0-4 FG, 0-3 3PT, 1 REB, 3 AST, 1 TO
Spurs start quarter with sloppy offensive play again, committing 3 turnovers within four minutes of play. San Antonio would commit only one more turnover for the remainder of the 3rd quarter. The Pistons returned to work running their backcourt of high screens and driving into the paint. While the Pistons were knocking down a handful of deep jumpers, they struggled against San Antonio's front court, which proved to more alert and aggressive on the ball handler inside the paint. The Spurs allowed only one layup and one other shot inside 10 ft of the basket. Detroit finished the quarter 15 points off of 7-22 FG. Nearly half of those 15 were scored in the final two minutes.
End of 3rd Quarter, Spurs - 71 Pistons - 66
Quarter Quick Shots:
- On 1st possession, Spurs nearly turn ball over on poor pass and then actually turn it over on Parker travel.
- Early in the quarter, Manu hits his first shot of the game. It was his first clean look in the paint.
- Spurs had 3 TO in first 4 minutes of quarter. 2 off of Blair's hands.
- Jump shots coming off screens by Detroit are giving the Spurs fits.
- Almost feels like Detroit forgot about DeJuan Blair in the final few minutes of quarter. They're lucky it was only 4 PTS and 3 REB in that span.
- Bynum and Stuckey spark a 7-0 run in one minute. Neal and Hill counter with a quick 5-0 run to close quarter.
After an early 5 point dash by Bonner and Dice, the Pistons go on a quick 6-0 run fed by a matchup problem and 2 back-to-back Spurs turnovers. Both teams exchanged a set of baskets before the Spurs unleashed a trio of 3PT to put them up by 9 with just over 5 minutes remaining in the quarter. Even with a 3PT shot off a lucky rebound to cu the lead to 6, the Pistons were unable to produce points to counter the Spurs free throw attempts off of intentional fouls. New Spur, Steve Novak, even added one last nail in the coffin with a corner 3PT.
Final, Spurs - 100 Pistons - 89
Final Quick Shots:
- Even with some decent shooting numbers, Gary Neal had a tough game. Couldn't stay in front of Stuckey without fouling... and sometimes just couldn't stay in front of him.
- For the game, Detroit managed 17 PTS off of 14 Spurs TO.
- San Antonio shot 6-9 from 3PT land in the 4th quarter, including three straight makes in a 1:15 span.
- The Spurs' offensive movement all-around was quicker and cleaner in the back half of the final quarter.
- Steve Novak enters the game for cleanup duty at the 0:45.3 mark.
- Steve Novak scores for the first time as a Spurs at the 0:22.5 mark... a classic corner 3PT.
Pistons' Three Stars
- Will Bynum: 21 PTS, 4-12 FG, 3 AST, 2 TO
- Greg Monroe: 14 PTS, 5-9 FG, 13 REB, 2 AST
- Austin Daye: 10 PTS, 3-6 FG, 1-4 3PT, 6 REB, 1 AST, 1 STL, 2 BLK
Spurs Three Stars
- Tony Parker: 19 PTS, 7-8 FG, 7 AST, 1 STL, 6 TO
- DeJuan Blair: 18 PTS, 9-15 FG, 12 REB, 1 STL
- Richard Jefferson: 11 PTS, 3-7 FG, 3-5 3PT, 3 REB
Next Game: San Antonio Spurs @ Toronto Raptors. -- Wednesday, February 9th @ 6:00 PM Spurs time (CT)