Rehash: Spurs maintain dominance over Jazz

Nov 3, 2012; San Antonio, TX, USA; Utah Jazz center Al Jefferson (behind) has his shot blocked by San Antonio Spurs forward Tim Duncan (21) during the second half at the AT&T Center. - Soobum Im-US PRESSWIRE

The San Antonio Spurs are off to a 3-0 start to the season after dropping the Utah Jazz, 110-100. Welcome to the Morning Sunday Lunch Edition of Rehash.

Opening Hash

Drafted with the third-overall pick in the 2011 NBA Draft, Enes Kanter showed glimpses of a bright career during a lockout-shortened rookie season. Kanter averaged 4.6 points per game and 4.2 rebounds coming off the bench behind an incredibly crowded front court rotation. The Utah Jazz are big, and while Al Jefferson, Derrick Favors, and Paul Millsap provide a formidable 1-2-3 combination, it is the development of the 20 year old Turkish Center that has many Jazz fans pumped for the 2012-13 season.

One of the many knocks on Kanter was his lack of a game away from the basket. Despite being a talented rebounder, especially on the offensive glass, Kanter turned into a defensive liability against efficient post-scorers, as well as any time he stepped further than 5 feet from the rim. With slow lateral movement and a tendency to remain on the ground, the San Antonio Spurs exploited the big man's defensive weaknesses every time he stepped onto the court in the playoffs. Kanter also proved to be of little concern to defenders, allowing teams to sag off him while focusing on his teammates. The only thing that mattered to opposing defenses was keeping the big Turk away from the put-backs.

Over the off-season, Kanter dedicated himself both physically and mentally to rebuilding his entire game. The 6-11 center dropped from 293 pounds all the way down to 242 in two months - yes, two months. Kanter credited a new direction in his diet, away from the eat-everything-in-sight tactic he'd followed for so long, and his focus on improving his lateral agility and vertical athleticism. With help from teammate Al Jefferson, Enes spent quite a bit of time developing an offensive presence beyond the paint. During the preseason, Kanter averaged 13 points and 9.4 rebounds, posting five double-doubles through eight games. He was obviously faster and more agile than last season, providing a stronger and more explosive presence in the paint on both ends of the floor while showing off his newly forged mid-range jumper.

It's unlikely that Kanter will meet the lofty expectations of a third-overall draft pick this season, but his dedication to the team and to the game is an incredibly positive sign for Jazz fans. The talent is obviously there and with a upper-tier group of big men surrounding him, Enes Kanter should prove to be a valuable asset for many years to come.

And an annoyance to Spurs fans as well...

Shoot around notes

  • The Utah Jazz and Memphis Grizzlies are the only teams I know who picked the opposite side of the court to start the game.
  • DeJuan Blair showed off an off-the-backboard dunk to the entertainment of the small crowd of students and business groups that were granted early access to the arena to watch the teams' pre-game shootaround. It's a move he nearly always ended his workouts with in his first two years, but that became less regular last season.
  • Except for Al Jefferson, the Jazz shootarounds are pretty relaxed and nonchalant. Jefferson was on the floor for quite awhile, working hard in the paint.
  • Earl Watson was doing some resistance training on the court but that was it.
  • Kawhi Leonard is pretty forcible with his dribbling.
  • Leonard has chiseled calves. Excuse me for looking.
  • Tony Parker made a basket while sitting courtside, It him took him 4 attempts.
  • I found it interesting that the player stats from the Thunder game were still up on the stat board.

Standard Pop Pre-game Quote

They'll give you the answer.

-Coach Popovich about the other journalists present, to a late reporter who asked a question Pop had just answered.


Game Hash

I believe most of us tuned out as the first half came to a close. The Spurs finished the first two quarters with an 18-point lead, shooting a blistering 74.3% from the floor, including a 5-7 performance from beyond the arc. It was as simple as getting open looks. San Antonio did not get out on the break nor did they solely live inside the paint (only 20 out of their first half 62 points came from the inside). Despite sloppy decisions with ball control and passing (10 TO in first half), the Spurs were able to mitigate the damage. Meanwhile, the vaunted Jazz front court couldn't buy an open look from anywhere on the floor during the first 18 minutes of the game.

The third quarter was a tale of role reversal. The Spurs shot 23.8%, a dramatic drop from their first half performance, largely due to increased pressure from the Jazz backcourt and continued streak of poor decision making. The Spurs nearly doubled their average total number of turnovers with 8 in the third quarter alone, which led directly to 10 Utah points. Rallying behind Mo Williams and Paul Millsap, who scored a combined 26 points, the Jazz exploded for a 35-17 advantage in the third quarter, including a 24-5 run to tie things up at 79 apiece. ''Our guys were really embarrassed by that,'' Coach Gregg Popovich said after the game.

The frustration of that embarrassment was evident in the fourth quarter. The Jazz shot over 63% in the fourth but were limited to only 11 shot opportunities. The Spurs forced 6 turnovers and kept the Jazz off the offensive boards. San Antonio also found their groove again on offense, hitting 11 of their 18 shots and scoring over half of their 31 fourth quarter points inside the paint (16). ''We didn't panic,'' said Tim Duncan. ''I thought we did a great job of sticking with what we were doing, and focused ourselves on defense.''


My Game Boss

Green

DANNY GREEN

MIN

PTS

FGM-A

3PM-A

AST

REB

STL

TO

32:30

21

8-9

3-3

3

0

1

1

Green was 8-9 FG, including 3-3 from deep, for 21 points -- only 3 points short of his career high. He has shown noticeable improvement on the offensive end of the floor with his passing, decision making, and ability to create.

My Game Runt

Favors

DERRICK FAVORS

MIN

PTS

FGM-A

REB

AST

BLK

TO

PF

23:10

6

3-5

2

1

1

1

4



23 minutes, 6 points, 2 rebounds, and 4 personal fouls. Considering the contract, the Jazz might be asking to hold on to that game check.

This Thing Was Over When...

...Paul Millsap was called for offensive 3-seconds with just over 3:30 remaining in the game. The Spurs capitalized on the turnover and scored back-to-back baskets to push the lead to 9 points.

What Were You Thinking...?

...when you wrapped up Tony Parker, Mo Williams? Grabbing is one thing but a quick toss to the side of one of the most dramatic guards in the league was certainly going to earn you a flagrant foul. Parker always looks like he gets shot out of cannon when he gets hit. You might want to remember that later on.

By the Numbers

  • 2.89 - Career blocks per game that Tim Duncan averages against Utah. Tim had 3 last night.
  • 64 - Points by Spurs guards (Not including Jackson)
  • 15:30 - Number of minutes Manu saw in his first game of the season.
  • 3:15 - Minutes Nando De Colo got to see on the court.
  • 22 - Points per game Tim Duncan is averaging per game this season.
  • 8.5 - Tony Parker's assist avg this season. He his well above his 5.9 career average.
  • 45.9% - The Spurs FG% through three games this season.
  • +12 - The Spurs advantage in assists last night.
  • 8 - Fastbreak points for the Spurs.
  • 16 - The average margin of victory over the Jazz in last year's opening playoff round.
  • 13 = Perfection - Kawhi Leonard literally made everything he shot. He was perfect from the stripe, 2-2; behind the arc 1-1; and from the field 5-5 for thirteen points and a team-leading +/- of +25.

Odds and Ends

  • Hayward's play looks more like Ginobili each year. I'm starting to look forward to the bald spot.
  • DeJuan looks like he would rather be anywhere else than in the timeout huddle.
  • Manu's kids were sitting courtside, each with their own basketball. Only 16 more years till we see them in Spurs uniforms, people.
  • Diaw has looked more aggressive in the paint this season but he still looks to pass at every chance he gets. This is his gift and curse.


Bird is the Word (Tweets of the Night)


@RichardCOliver: I do love me some regular-season Matt Bonner. Regular. Season.


@blanchard48moh: I'm convinced Al Jefferson's entire game is based on his ability to palm the ball like a nerf ball.


@24writer: If Green becomes a capable penatrator like he's shown in this 4th quarter, #Spurs' starting five all have ability to create. Crazy offense


@Clintonite33: Kawhi Leonard has seen enough.


Going Into the Next Game, the Spurs Need to...

...avoid getting complacent like they did last night. Even though the Indiana Pacers are off to a slow start, they are a young and talented group that matches up well against the Spurs. By the way, if you're looking for a team to root for in the Eastern Conference - make it the Indiana Pacers.

For more rambling and Spurs talk, follow Aaron Preine at @DukeOfBexar on Twitter.

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