After Friday's blowout over the Heat, followed by Sunday's blowout loss to the Lakers, it feels like up is down and down is up. Topsy-turvy doesn't even begin to describe it. Because we like our Silver Screen and Roll SBNation brethren as we do, I had set up another Fraternizing with the Enemy with Chris, since the last one was so well-received. That exchange will be posted later today. Why? Because the sky is falling? No, but with the Spurs shots refusing to, it doesn't really have to make much sense, does it? Just enjoy the following in-game discussion as much as possible for a loss as bad as this one was, and look out for the FwtE proper, which will be posted later today.
jollyrogerwilco: Alright, Chris. The jrwlings are set up in the living room watching UP, Mrs. JRW is ensconced in her artist's studio (the bedroom) painting, and I'm sitting in front of the 42" LCD with my notebook, ready to go in-game here. Got anything special to hit off with before tip-off?
Chris: Just that I need to take lessons from you on how to distract significant others. I had to buy my wife off with a $300 meal last night. How about an over/under on Spurs made threes in the first quarter? I'm thinking maybe 10?
JRW: Sounds like a fair number, if Friday was any indication. But with Manu driving on the first two possessions, perhaps the 3's will have to wait. BTW, was that Bynum with the block on Manu's 2nd foray into the paint? Nice D from him. And what's the deal with Artest's missed freebies? Ugly.
Chris: Those Artest freebies were so ugly I'm forced to believe he felt morally compelled to miss them because the foul call was soft. As for Bynum, he's been straight Howard-esque on defense lately. Seriously, if he played like this all season (if he played all season, more like) he could be a DPOY candidate.
JRW: Have you ever known Artest to feel morally compelled to do ANYTHING? Just don't really feel like he's motivated in that particular way. Just sayin'. As far as the early going is concerned. I'm really pleased with what I see from the Spurs defensive rotation. And Wolverine's (Reference to Tony Parker - go here for the backstory) steal of a bounce pass on an LA PNR. Impressive.
Chris: Don't sell Artest short. He's a weird dude, and while his moral compass may not be the same as yours or mine, don't think it doesn't exist. The dude raffled his championship ring for charity. That's got to be a moral compulsion.
Oh, and Wolverine just had his shit sent back by a Nightcrawler block from Bynum there. Bynum teleported two feet closer to the basket than TP was expecting.
JRW: Yeah, that's his 2nd block too. Now if he only had a healing factor, then he'd be able to overcome the Curse of Oden, and actually finish a season that he started, or vice-versa. As to your prediction about 3's. Manu's missed his first, and seems to be off with this outside touch after another long miss followed by another missed 3.
Nine point lead as LA's jumpers are all finding the bottom of the net.
Chris: I've already sent Phil Jackson an email instructing him to get someone to sneak Bynum some of the Spurs Gatorade.
And Bonner hits a three. I think the universe will explode the next time Bonner misses from deep. The only reason he's shooting so well is because the fate of the universe rests upon it.
JRW: I guess SA's offense should really be focused on getting him a look at a 3 on every single possession. Because, regardless of who would be destroying the universe, I think it's best to assume that more points are better than fewer when looking at the short view, in terms of the game going on right now. And with Lakers seeming unable to miss, and sporting a 15 point lead, I'm starting to feel pretty comfortable in my weekend assessment that Miami's defensive #s have been somehow artificially boosted. The Spurs got any shot they wanted on Friday, but today has been quite different already.
And another Spurs shot hangs on the rim for an eternity and falls out. Followed by an LA 3 pointer.
Chris: The Guinness Book of World Records just called to inform me that they are on hand in San Antonio to record the biggest change in point discrepancy between two first quarters ever. This is all part of Pop's plan to get the Spurs more publicity through obscure methods.
From 24 up to 21 down ... That's a 45 point swing over the two games
JRW: Really, can you blame him? If leading the league in wins for nearly the entire season isn't enough to get the press talking about you, what is? But in all seriousness, while I agree that Spurs fans can make a point about a lack of press in the if-the-Lakers-had-this-record-then-ESPN-would-be-hyperventilating, I just don't think there will ever be a time when earning press will be something San Antonio can do. They'll be a story because of WHO they've played (Friday's headlines like "Heat lose" instead of "Spurs down Heat") or WHEN they play (another championship, perhaps) because there just aren't enough Spurs fans to make the ratings.
And Pau makes a 3. This 22 point lead is a weather-the-storm kind of thing, or it'll be a short night for the starters.
Pau for three? Yep, it was that kind of night.
Chris: Holy shit ... Pau Gasol just hit a three pointer. I don't know if I can speak for the next 5 minutes
JRW: They must have had an infusion of Charlie Sheen's tiger blood.
Chris: See, normally a big early lead for th Lakers is a bad thing, because they'll just assume they've got it in the bag and stop trying. But the Spurs are the only good team in the league who are OK with giving up when down big too, so we might end up watching a terrible 3rd quarter
JRW: Honestly, I'm all for that. But on a day when Pau's dropping three's and LA's shooting, what is it, 73% of their shots, I just don't know. This is just something that I didn't plan for, when we talked about doing this: the possibility of a non-game. What would we do for the next 2 hours?
What's that? We don't really talk about the game anyway? Good point.
As Brown hits from deep with a man right in his face.
Chris: Yeah, in terms of this chat, a non-competitive game is the best possible situation. That way, our creative juices won't be distracted by silly things like watching the game or guttural screams.
This is a silly question, but just to be sure, nobody else has done this to SA have they?
Chris: Hmm, the Spurs seem to have latched onto an effective offensive strategy ... if you get 5 attempts on a single possession, you will probably score.
JRW: Woah, a Spurs possession that lasted nearly a minute and featured 4 or 5 offensive rebounds and finished with a terrific Hill spin AND 1. I'm just not sure that can be replicated for an entire game -- as an offensive strategy!
Chris: In any case, we won't know anything about this game until the first 5 minutes of the 3rd quarter. If the Lakers are focused and intent to make this count, the lead will be maintained, but if the Spurs cut 10 points off the lead in the first 5 minutes, we'll have a good game by the end of it.
JRW: The end of the 2nd and the beginning of the 3rd will speak volumes. I couldn't agree more. And we've just crossed the halfway point of the 2nd quarter as Bryant shoots a triple bouncing off the back board, bounce again jumper that drops.
Chris: You know what I love about Kobe ... The Lakers are currently up 26 points on the team with the best record in the league on the road, and I'm not thrilled with his shot selection. And in the games in which he shoots 25 times and has no assists, I think he played well.
JRW: Artest flexing and sniffing his underarm. What a like-able guy. Oh, he was kissing his bicep. Never mind. And Gasol actually misses a jumper -- his first?
Chris: Hey, I never said the guy was likable ... just that he has a weird sense of right and wrong that manifests itself at strange times. If the NBA were a D&D game, Artest woud be Chaotic Neutral ... not Evil.
JRW: See, that's somewhere I'm just not going to be able to follow you, even if Duncan could match you reference for reference. Although I understand what you mean about Artest. Chaotic neutral fits him to a T.But Manu guarding Kobe and drawing a completely different kind of T wasn't anything I was expecting. Does he get hot like that very often. Hot=angry with the elbows, I mean. Regardless, he's unconscious right now, at least. Then again, so's EVERYBODY with "Lakers" on their chest. Honestly, you guys are shooting like SA did against Miami.
Chris: He does get hot like that often. In fact, called that T a possession before it happened. Kobe had the look. But he's also totally in control of being out of control. When he gets a T like that, its the equivalent o a controlled burn. He's letting it happen because its good for the environment ... I guess that analogy sort of broke down there at the end, didn't it.
Two straight Bonner misses and we're all still here. Clearly I was wrong about the universe thing, and now the Lakers are totally in the Red Rocket's head.
JRW: Nope. Controlled burns ARE actually good for the environment.
Chris: Heh, but are KB technical? I guess from 29 teams' perspectives, the answer is yes.
JRW: Well, if he can get a tech, NOT get another, and keep shooting lights out, then I say it's good for ANY environment. And as for Bonner, I must say that the knock on him has been that he's lights out during the regular season, but gets shut down in the playoffs when good defensive teams refuse to leave him, or rotate to him quickly enough to prevent him from having the time he needs to shoot a three. And so far, it looks like LA's been pretty successful with doing just that. It's exactly what most Spurs fans have been hoping against hope against all year. A Bonner disappearing act in the 2nd season.
Chris: See, I don't really thing that's a matter of Bonner disappearing. Bonner's MO is what it is ... open shot = made shot. If he's not open in the playoffs, that's not on him. It just means that the stars on the team have to take greater advantage of the defenses that help less off of Bonner. After all, you can't cover a guy better just by willing it so.
JRW: Yeah, but you're being quite reasonable with that argument. Something that fans (even Spurs fans are not always known to be. And here we are in the 2nd half that we're saying will be so telling.)
Chris: Ron Artest just ran into a bunch of spectators with drinks, that might be the most villanous thing he oes all game. Though I will say that covered in soda is a good look for him.
JRW: Soda, whiskey, filet mignon, sulfuric acid -- ok, I don't mean that last one. I don't particularly dislike Artest the person. I don't really like him either, but it's really the player that I don't like. But if he was a Spur I'm sure I'd change my tune immediately, as long as played hard and smart. Oh, does he not always do that?
RJ2.0 with an AWESOME block of a Pau shot in the paint.
Chris: Until this season, he always has played hard. This year though, his play had fallen off so much that, well you know the saying about a guy that lost a step? We were worried that he had lost three. His recent form has made clear that he was slacking as much as anybody on the team, and he's a big reason why we're so improved lately.
Chris: And before I forget ... the coffee was NOT THAT HOT? Not impressed with the customer service in the AT&T Center. I guarantee that the coffee served to the courtside patron in Staples is scalding ... and probably laced with cocaine.
JRW: See, that's the difference between the left coast and the southland. You guys have the cocaine fueled coffee technology down pat. Here we're forced to do our best to keep it hot while adding in Pop's PEDs. (This will make sense when Part Two is posted in a few hours.- ED)
Chris: Heh. Bob looked like he might be in need of some PEDs.
JRW: Well, there are your first 5 minutes of the 3rd, and Manu gets a great look at a floater in the lane without anyone in his face and he misses. Looks like this 30 point lead can be expected to stick.Which means that I'm going to be forced to be creative under less than optimal circumstances -- as my favorite team is being soundly thrashed.
Chris: Is it that they are getting trounced that has you upset? Or that it is the Laker that are doing it? Because, with that record, I'd think you could laugh off something like this with relative ease.
JRW: Well, it's the combination of the blowout and who's playing, of course. And while I have pretty thick skin where announcers are concerned, to hear the ABC crew dog the Spurs and praise LA just two days after glowing about SA and dissing Miami. It's enough to make me hit the mute button.
Chris: By all means, do. The less people listening to Mark Jackson and Jeff Van Gundy the better. And the lead has kept up until the 3 minute mark of the 3rd. Do any of the Spurs starters see time in the 4th quarter?
Tiago's mission: make the deficit more palatable.
JRW: Not a chance. Look at the lineup right now. Splitter, Hill, Novak, Neal and Bonner. If there's one thing that's certain season, it's that if it's the 2nd half, Pop will sit the older-guys when a game's out of hand, or almost out of hand, or threatening to be out of hand, or looking like it might begin to start to get out of hand. This year's offensive changes are probably for the exact same reason. Duncan's worn down at the end of the season the last couple of years, and so finding rest, whenever possible, has been the '10-'11 touchstone. The fact that that's the case while owning the league's best record just points to the quality of ball the Spurs are playing.
Hey, they got it under 30.
Chris: See I find that hilarious, because once again we have the two best coaches in the league having diametrically opposed strategies. This game's over, Pop knows it, and has no problem resting his startrs completely. Meanwhile, PJ doesn't care the exact opposite way and will play his rotations will not be adjusted until well into the fourth. I guarantee that either Pau Gasol or Kobe Bryant will see time in the 4th quarter.
Another thing I find funny are percentages. For example, the Spurs are shooting 34% from the field, and that's terrible. The Lakers are shooting 48%, and that's pretty good (though it certainly took a nose dive in that 16 point third quarter). Meanwhile, my keyboard is only shooting 80%, as 1 out of 5 keystrokes seems to be missing, and is making these responses pretty difficult to hammer out. Apologies for any typos.
JRW: And that's just utterly unfamiliar to me, that such a great coach would refuse to adjust his system/rotation in extreme situations - whether up big or down big. How does that affect the fanbase. Certainly you're used to it, but does it chafe that he's so unyielding on this kind of thing?
And you were right, of course. Pau's in the game playing with Odom and Barnes. So weird.
Chris: Boom, Pau Gasol starts the 4th quarter (he hasn't been out in the 2nd half yet). PJ strikes again. Honestly, I have no idea why he does it, but I think it is becase his biggest concern is with rhythm. He wants Pau to play these minutes because he doesn't ever want Pau to get used to not playing these minutes. Either that, or he just does not give a shit about his players.
JRW: Last night I took my two oldest boys to get their hair cut, and while we were waiting, I picked up a Sports Illustrated with a profile of the manager of the Real Madrid football/soccer team, Jose Mourinho, who is possibly the best coach in the world. And while the way he relates to his players impressed me so much, I can't imagine Phil wouldn't care about his guys. I know you were joking, but it's really quite a head-scratcher, and I can't make sense of it.
Chris: No, its definitely the rhythm thing. And on a personal level, I understand it completely. It's like with sleeping habits. If you sleep 8 hours a day every day, you will be well rested. If you sleep 6 hours a day every day, you will be less well rested, but your body will adapt and you will be more or less fully OK. But, if every now and then, circumstances allow you to sleep 10 hours a day, you will feel better initially, but it makes it harder on your body to go back to six hours. I'm not saying PJ's strategy is better than Pop's, because I don't believe that it is, but there is value to what he's doing, even if it doesn't seem to ake much sense. ... and I have to tell myself this as I see injury plagued Andrew Bynum replace Pau Gasol with 7 minutes left to play.
JRW: By the way, I should have said that no starter but Blair would see anymore court time. Whenever Pop calls all the children off the street, it's DeJuan who's regularly out there with the garbage-time squad. And seeing as he's just 20, it makes sense that he wouldn't need the additional rest. As for the rhythm thing, I can see the point. And while I would never have thought of that reason without having talked with you, I can see the potential benefit. But it sure is more fun to imagine the nasty enemy Lakers running up the score just because they're bullies who need this kind of game to make themselves feel better. I hate that I feel that way sometimes, because it's petty, but it sure can be enjoyable.
Chris: I know Blair's young, but he also has no knees. That has to count for something, right?
JRW: Thanks for reminding me. I was going to touch on that and forgot. The man has no ACLs whatsoever. And for those who are wondering how we at PtR feel about that, check this out.
Tiger, tiger in the night...
Chris: It's official, my take on the PJ strategy is officially correct, because Mark Jackson just said the exact opposite.
And with that, the lead is under 20. And there's less than 90 seconds to play. So the 22 game home win streak comes to and end. As does the least competitive game I've ever done a "live" chat about. But now I must ask you, how do you feel about this win, knowing that SA's splits show that they're pretty awful in early-day games, and Pop didn't keep trying
while the Spurs couldn't hit a thing and LA couldn't miss. Does that change anything for you?
Chris: I don't put much stock in this game, except to say that the Lakers, when focused, are a beast of a team, but that's usually true of the defending champion. In this particular game, the Lakerswere hot, the Spurs were very un-hot, and in thos circumstances, a blow out usually happens. It would be stupid to claim that this game is proof that the Lakers will dominate the Spurs in the playoffs, because SA won in L.A. in a much more evenly fought contest.
I'm glad to see the Lakers flex some muscle (literally), but the actual result doesn't matter in the least.
JRW: It really is hard for my readers to continue to harbor the unrealistic view of all Lakers fans as unmitigated blowhards when you continue to be as evenhanded as you are. All the same, thanks for joining me for this. I enjoyed it, as always, even if the game was a smoking pile of mesquite-smoked refuse. ...mesquite-flavored refuse.
Chris: You know what they say, one man's shit is another man's fine dining. And the mesquite flavor is awesome either way.
JRW: You could pour all of the mesquite flavoring on this one you want, and I don't think it would raise its awesomeness rating at all.