Happy New Year £ers! I hope you had a good time last night and were safe and responsible.
Our beloved Spurs sure seemed to enjoy themselves on their win over a very flawed Jazz team, taking advantage of a franchise in transition and securing the W early, largely due to another fantastic performance by Manu Ginobili and scorching-hot 3-point shooting. It ended up being as much a one-sided affair as the score suggests.
The Spurs started out a little slow but were still able to get ahead on the 1st quarter by simply out-executing the Jazz in way to a 23-18 lead coming into the 2nd quarter. Then, Richard Jefferson scored a three to start the 2nd. Manu Ginobili saw it and said "well, that seems like fun". With back-to-back threes, a layup, another three and an assist to Bonner for yet another three, Manu single handedly made sure the Spurs were able to pull away by double digits.
After a mini-run by the Jazz that came with Tony Parker and Manu on the bench and reduced a 17 point lead to a 10 point lead, the Spurs backcourt stars checked back in and and got the offense going again. When the dust had settled, the Spurs had a healthy 15 point lead going into halftime.
In the 3rd quarter the difference in talent and chemistry between the two teams became evident: while the Spurs executed patiently and expertly on the half court, the Jazz resorted to a lot of one-on-one ball with bad results. The Spurs kept defending and rotating; the Jazz gave up on that end, unable to keep up with the Spurs' ball movement.
Everybody on a white jersey looked good in the 3rd, but the catalyst for the Spurs' run had to be DeJuan Blair. Our favorite tweeterer (is that even a word?) was energetic throughout the game and outplayed the Jazz reserve bigs, getting offensive boards and forcing fouls by being aggressive. The quarter ended with the Spurs ahead by 23 and the game was pretty much in the bag. Pop pulled the starters and the Spurs rode their big lead en route to a 104-89 win.
Some bulletpoint observations, because I'm lazy and frankly a little hangover.
It was Coach Pop's 800 career win. He became the 14th coach in league history to achieve it and ranks third among active coaches behind George Karl and Rick Adelman. Here's what he had to say, via ESPN:
"I don't feel as old as you look," Popovich said to one reporter when asked if reaching 800 wins equates to getting old. "Other than that, you get that number of wins, it does mean you've been hanging around for a while. And that you've got good staff and good players and a good management team. We've all achieved 800 wins, I haven't really."
RJ 3.0 is still hitting his shots and playing sound defense. Watching Josh Howard commit a flagrant foul on James Anderson out of frustration makes me even more glad that every free agent wing turned us down.
Speaking of Anderson, he seemed to struggle a little bit guarding Howard but keeps showing promise on both ends of the floor. 8 points 3 boards and 2 assists for him.
Kawhi Leonard finished with 7 points and 6 rebounds but also with a team worst -15 +/-. Make of that what you will. His shot continues to look alternatively great and awful.
Speaking of ugly shots, Tiago Splitter's jump hook still looks bad, but he managed to make a couple of them tonight. Progress.
The offense gets stagnated whenever both Parker and Ginobili are resting. TJ Ford is a good floor general, but the Spurs still count on their stars to create shots. Hopefully Anderson keeps developing his pick and roll game and is able to take on some of the playmaking duties.
The Spurs still have trouble boxing out (I'm looking at you DeJuan) and allowed 14 offensive boards.
No Spur played more than 30 minutes and the Spurs played 12 guys.
- As for the Jazz, Favors-Kanter could be a formidable frontcourt down the line and Hayward has shown that he can play in the NBA. They should probably go forth with the youth movement and trade their veterans, but they won't. Can't blame a franchise for trying to win, but they should embrace a full rebuild.
3 - Tony Parker. Tony had 14 points and 8 assists while shooting a very un-Spurs like 8-8 from the free throw line
2- DeJuan Blair. Blair is still a bad defensive player and a lazy defensive rebounder, but his contributions on offense are needed more than ever now that Timmy is struggling on that end. DeJuan stepped up and got 17 points and 10 rebounds (5 off) and got himself to the line 13 times. He was aggressive at the right times.
1- Manu Ginobili. Manu scored 23 points in 25 minutes on 9-10 shooting (5-6 from 3). Yes, you read that right.
Well, that's the hacky recap dujour. A blowout win after a bad loss to the Rockets was just what the team needed and they got it.