After a game like this one, you can only hope to distribute the blame in as fair a way as possible. I know, with so many to blame, how can I reasonably expect a busy person like you to take the time to correctly assign all the appropriate blame? Well, that's why I invented FARS (Fred's Arbitrary Rating System,) my friends. It's filled with unexpected facts, indisputable opinion, and immeasurable bias. If you would like to disagree, -10 for you!
1st Quarter 10:16 Spurs 6, Bucks 6
Tim Duncan begins the game by hitting his first two jumpers. It's a promising start until Stephen Jackson takes a dribble to the left, feels contact, and throws the ball at the basket without looking, while falling. It goes in. It's an ominous sign. +5, Tim.
1st Quarter 8:30 Spurs 9, Bucks 11
Jackson scores on a fast break layup, and follows it with a contested jumper, swish. We are told that he has struggled this season, shooting 32% from the floor and just 26% from three. Another ominous sign. I blame our commentators, partially, for the loss. You can't point that kind of thing out early in the game and not expect your comment to have a negative impact. -5, Sean Elliott. (Even though he didn't make this remark, he should have kicked Bill Land before he got "32" out of his mouth.
1st Quarter 6:33 Spurs 15, Bucks 13
Jackson throws his body at Tim and the officials bail him out with a whistle. If Captain Jack is going to get these kinds of calls ... "Uh-oh." In the background you can hear all 10 fans attempting to chant something. But there's only 10 of them and so it's all but inaudible. Officials -3, The 10 Bucks Fans -3 (If your fans don't show up, I think you should be disqualified. We should put a number to this. The stadium must be more than 20% full or else you forfeit. What is this, the WNBA? [My apologies to the 10 WBNA fans out there.])
1st Quarter 3.36 Spurs 25, Bucks 15
Tim has 10 points on 5 of 5 shooting with 3 boards and 2 assists. Tony has 8 early, and is looking unstoppable. Sean chimes in with, "And Andrew Bogut out there is looking too tired... He's barely out there." Sean, really? Is he trying to jinx us? Yes, yes he is. Tim +10, Tony +8, Sean Elliott -10.
1st Quarter 1:20 Spurs 27, Bucks 20
Green just skies for a rebound and is fouled from behind by Stephen Jackson as Danny attempted to initiate the break. The next Spurs possession, Bonner fakes an open 3, waddles in, and misses his funky intermediate shot. Two fairly insignificant plays, but Green only gets five minutes this game and really, what's FARS without Bonner? Green +1, Bonner -3, for the shot and -1 for the waddle.
1st Quarter 1:00 Spurs 28, Bucks 20
Green catches the ball on the break and forces the action, drawing a foul. He makes one of two.
Green +2 for showing aggression.
1st Quarter :33 Spurs 29, Bucks 22
TJ Ford drives into the paint and makes a floater, but you can hear the moan. He hops off the court to the Spurs bench. Danny Green sees this and stealthily eyes the in-bounder. The pass is thrown and intercepted by Green who is fouled at the rim. He makes one of two. +5 to Green for the mindful reaction to his teammate limping off the court.
TJ Ford sprained his left hamstring. I've been talking him up since my first recap on the Spurs victory over the Clippers.
TJ is the best backup point guard Tony has ever had, and it's not close. In fact, I will even state that TJ is the best point guard on the team, (okay, fine, pure point guard). The second unit is no longer a liability. TJ ensures that the second unit always takes a high percentage shot. He is a master at controlling the tempo of the game, which is probably the most important quality a backup point guard can have. I can't overstate this; TJ makes this team significantly better than last year's squad.
Make no mistake, this played a significant role in the Spurs' eventual defeat.
TJ's Injury, -20
End of 1st Quarter, Spurs 33, Bucks 25
Bonner rotates to Delfino in the corner and gets there just in time. Delfino drains the corner three. I would like to convince someone to begin keeping this new stat. Opponent's field goal percentage when Bonner is the one flying at them, specifically when it's a three point shot. I swear it has to be greater than 50%. Bonner, -3.
2nd Quarter 10:02 Spurs 35, Bucks 29
Delfino gets a step on Green but it's okay, Matt Bonner is there just in time. He taps Delfino on the wrist giving him a three point play. Green gets replaced by Kawhi and that will be the last we see of him.
Bonner -5 for making Green look bad. Pop -10 for the benching of Danny Green.
I just noticed how quiet it is. Come on, Milwaukee. Like there's anything better to do in Wisconsin right now. -15 to the rest of the fans that didn't show up.
2nd Quarter 9:12
Bonner with his patented "TREYbuchet!" shot. Yes, that's what I'm calling. To be fair to the trebuchet, it has fewer hitches in its shooting motion than Bonner's three point shot. Bonner, -1
2nd Quarter 7:33 Spurs 40, Bucks 37
Delfino is unconscious from deep. I don't understand it either. (Full Disclaimer: Right now, I hate Everyone in Milwaukee. No offense. None taken. Thanks for understanding. You betcha.)
Milwaukee Fans +5
2nd Quarter 5:24 Spurs 45, Bocks 46
Leonard just went coast to coast and scored on the fast break. As Delfino attempted the steal, Leonard picked the ball up and swung it to his left. With Jennings still to beat, Leonard elevated up and over the little guy for an incredible finish. It's an impressive demonstration of basketball instincts and great to see from our rookie, who is having a fabulous game.
Halftime: Spurs 59, Bucks 59
Here's all you need to know abou the first half. The Spurs shot 62% FG, and 43% 3FG while the Bucks shot 56% FG, and 67% 3FG. They traded baskets the entire time and neither side played defense. I know many of our guys looked great on offense, but I can't give out any credit when the team simply, utterly, and in every other way fails to play anything recognizable as a modicum of defense.
It felt like a summer game, which again leads me to our 10 Bucks fans, who I'm beginning to view as personal friends. In all seriousness, playing in front of an empty stadium affects the mentality of the players, even the most veteran of them. When 20,000 fans erupt with each swing of the game, emotionally charged players fly around the court. When 10 Bucks fans with beards barely make a peep, it results in bad atmosphere, bad basketball and bad facial hair.
-15 for the Bucks fans' bad facial hair.
At half, Rick Renner broke it down. I don't know what Rick said; I'm always distracted by his hair. (Am I being distracted tonight by all things hirsute? Very possibly.) I have so many questions, Rick. Who told you this was a good look? Are you married, and if so, does she have no input into your personal styling choices? When you get up in the morning and put that thing on while looking at yourself in the mirror, what goes through your mind? Also, are you talking about George Foreman in this picture? Does this mean you've had the same hair since 1994? What?!?
Rick Renner, -10 until I get some answers.
3rd Quarter 6:19 Spurs 70, Bucks 68
This is where Pop lost the game. Since the half began, there was more trading of baskets and hardly a defensive play made by either team. Instead of going with a defender in Green, Pop threw a cold Anderson into the game. He must be saving Neal because of the loss of TJ, since Neal will have to take over point guard responsibilities when Tony needs a rest. Pop's choice was between Green and Anderson, and he chose poorly.
(via ScienceWars on YouTube)
Timeout 3rd Quarter 2:25 Spurs 77, Bucks 74
In 3 minutes and 54 seconds of action, Anderson has secured one uncontested defensive rebound and was blocked by Bogut. He was nonexistent. I was trying to write something negative, but there was simply nothing there. Now, if Danny Green had played in the last 3:54, how many comments could I have made? He's active. He's aggressive. He would have had an impact.
Anderson -3, Pop -5
(At this point, what keeps Pop from subbing Green into the game for Anderson? James has done nothing. We needed a spark and Anderson was a wet blanket. The Bucks just gifted us with a timeout. But no, Green would remain on the bench. I need to know which of Pop's family members Greensleeves unintentionally insulted so that I can write a letter of apology on Mean Joe's behalf to get him out of Pop's Doghouse™.)
4th Quarter 11:50 Spurs 84, Bucks 79
Kawhi has an outstanding three minutes to hold off the Bucks. He's the only one that made a defensive effort for the Spurs. He stole the ball from Jackson and fed Tiago for a layup. He then drove the lane for a bucket and the foul. Give this to Kawhi; he did not disappoint.
+10 Kawhi, -5 Anderson (Yes, he's still out there and still hasn't done anything.)
4th Quarter 10:29 Spurs 86, Bucks 81
Leonard just made one of my favorite plays in basketball. The Bucks stole a bad pass and initiated the break. Instead of jogging back expecting an easy two for the Bucks, Leonard chased down Harris and used his long arm to poke the ball away from behind. The rookie came to play tonight.
Meanwhile, Anderson blows Leonard's fast break by throwing the ball off Gooden's foot.
-5 Anderson, bad pass.
On the out bounds play, the camera zooms to Pop as he frantically motions for Neal and Anderson to switch positions. They do not. Anderson receives the pass, drives into the lane, and is stripped. The ball goes off his leg, Bucks ball.
Anderson -5, Pop -10 (Even though you tried to get them to switch, I still blame you. That's the kind of mood I'm in.)
4th Quarter 10:12 Spurs 86, Bucks 83
The very next play Harris posts up Anderson on the block. Anderson flops, Harris scores, timeout Spurs. Out of the timeout, we find that Pop has chosen to stay with Anderson.
Anderson -5, Pop -10
4th Quarter 9:30 Spurs 88, Bucks 85
The Bucks again post Anderson up, but the shot is missed this time. Bonner gets the board but is off-balance. He throws a bad pass. Anderson chases it down and throws it back in play right to Livingston, setting up a 3 on 2 break that ends with a Bucks basket. Anderson is then replaced by RJ.
-5 Anderson, (This could be considered bad luck, but I think it's a poor basketball decision to throw the ball blindly at your opponent's three point line. I could be wrong but I'm probably not.)
Fast Forward through several plays that are deserving of a negative FARS rating, but escape this time by being less egregiously awful than the rest...
4th Quarter 1:52 Spurs 101, Bucks 102
The Spurs found themselves down by 7 with 3:30 remaining, but came up with several defensive stops and closed the gap. Kawhi played excellent D on Captain Jack during this span. Tim made the two clutch free throws to cut the lead to one. The Spurs then forced another Buck's miss, but Parker came up short on his open next jumper, one he makes 80% of the time, according to my rigorous accounting.
After a ridiculous step back jumper that falls for Milwaukee, the Spurs found themselves down 3. Off Tony's pass, Kawhi makes a strong move into the paint and finished it off with a nice jumper. Spurs down 1.
After another defensive stop, Tony gets a step but is raked from behind. Jennings gets an easy dunk. (We can blame the officials here if you want. Yes, Fred. Hand out more blame. Ok. You got it)
Now down by three, the Spurs feed Tim on the block. He begins to back down Bogut, who promplty flops. The officials call a charge. (Yes, here too.)
With 14.9 remaining, DeJuan ties up Jackson and a jump ball is called. DeJuan tips the ball to RJ who passes to Tony. Tony looks at the bench expecting a timeout. He takes six crab dribbles down the floor, all the time looking at Pop, who motions him forward. 8 seconds now remain and Tony finds himself being forced away from Tim Duncan's screen. He dribbles to the corner and picks up his dribble with 5 seconds remaining, still no timeout. He passes to RJ who is well covered at the top of the key by Stephen Jackson. A head-fake and a miss from RJ, ball game.
Pop gets -35. (Not taking the timeout early was fine, let's see what develops. When Tony is in the corner with little hope, that's when you have to take the timeout.)
It feels empty. Not me, the stadium. (Bucks fans who stayed home. -20.)
Your Three Scapegoats (As Calculated by FARS)
3.) The Officials scored -33
The two calls at the end greatly decided the game. If you are going to let them play, then neither Tony nor Bogut get the call. If you aren't, the whistle is blown twice. You just cannot be inconsistent when the game in on the line.
2.) The Bucks Fans scored -63
The Bucks always play us well at home. There is nothing else to do in Milwaukee. And I don't like those beards either.
1.) Greg Popovich scored -95
Sure, not calling a timeout was inexcusable, but choosing to play Anderson 9 minutes in place of Green was almost hurtful. In 9 minutes, Green would have influenced the course of the game. It's just unbelievable that he could watch Anderson struggle for 9 straight minutes and never make the change.
Your Three Stars (As Calculated by FARS)
3.) Tony Parker scored 8.
I don't like it either, but I'm not willing to disagree with FARS and get a -10 penatly. He played well, but his 7 turnovers contributed to our demise.
2.) Tim Duncan scored 15.
He gave everything he could. 20 points on 9 of 12 shooting with 8 rebounds, 7 assists, 3 blocks, and a steal. Hopefully, he saved something for tomorrow night.
1.) Kawhi Leonard scored 30.
19 points on 9 of 12 shooting with 3 rebounds, 2 assists, 4 steals, and a block. He had his best game as a Spur. His defense down the stretch gave us a chance to win the game. Hopefully his confidence continues to soar. In our current state of LWM, we need these young guys to take advantage of the minutes and blossom into a playoff tool. Kawhi did just that.