Morning Rehash: Spurs Win in OT and Tim Duncan is All That is Man

Tim Duncan demolishes Marc Gasol. - US PRESSWIRE

In his first game post-SpursGate, Tim Duncan put on an impressive performance against the vaunted front court of the Memphis Grizzlies. The rest of the Big Three put in some great work as well but it took until the fourth quarter for the rest of the Spurs squad to make a positive impact.

Opening Hash

Honestly, as annoying as it is, the backlash of Coach Popovich deciding to rest his starters doesn't bother me one bit. Yes, Pop was thumbing his nose at David Stern and the NBA for the ridiculous matchup of schedules but that wasn't his primary reason for sending out a squad of bench players and D- League call-ups. As the primary core of this team has aged, Pop has had to continually adjust his approach towards his player's health as well as the long haul of a 82-game season - trimming of minutes, signing of veteran role players, and even a major trade for a chance at another big weapon. It was a process of trial and error, with most of his efforts resulting in slowing the decay of an elite championship unit. The teams legs were still old, the defensive skill sets couldn't live up to old Spurs way, and many of the pieces just didn't fit.

But instead of continually bashing a square peg into a round hole, the San Antonio Spurs reinvented themselves. They filled a bench with unknown young talent and compatible veteran pieces, they shipped off George Hill to draft an answer for the SF question, and they made a 180 degree shift to put offense above defense. With a brutal lockout shortened season ahead of them, Coach Popovich placed an enormous amount of trust on his role players. The result was a level of game consistency and efficiency that made Spurs fans and stat geeks drools. With this ground to stand on, Coach Popovich strategically used the team depth to navigate the condensed season, resting his main cogs as well as the younger legs and thus negating the ill-effects of playing almost every single night. Pop focused on game day proximity, minutes, health, and travel distance in relation to the value and impact of the games.

Popovich was forced to navigate the same series of elements in the month of November. San Antonio Spurs spent most of November on the road, first working through a 4-game west coast trip followed quickly by a 6-game (9 days) swing up the east coast. The latter road trip finished with a 4-games-in-5 nights blitz before returning home to face the always tough Memphis Grizzlies. So, again, Pop only did what he thought was best for his players and for the team's season; he rested his main squad on the final game of the trip. Not only that but he sent them on an early flight back home. They could have easily just sat in street clothes behind the bench but Pop saw an opportunity to get his players a full 2-day's rest as opposed to arriving at the airport at 5:00 AM the day before a game against a division foe and current top dog in the Western conference.

Forget the fact that the last team on the road trip were the defending NBA Champions and current Stern cash cows. The only thing worth noting is that they are an Eastern conference team - a team matchup that offers minimal value in the shuffling of western playoff seeds, which typically come down to tie-breakers. It was a gamble but Coach Pop opted for a better chance at gaining a post-season edge over an extremely tough team.

And it paid off.

Shoot Around Notes

  • While working on driving out of the corner, Patty would consistently drop his left foot back, dangerously close to the line. A trainer caught it and forced Mills to immediately step forward with his right foot . The result was a faster and deeper catch and drive with less steps.
  • Mills pump fake and drive is not very believable to me. His lower body mechanics are so much different from his jumper.
  • Tim Duncan has a longer but more open knee brace (that is covered up by a sleeve during the game). The front of his knee is completely exposed and the brace appears to be more friendly in terms of agility/flexibility.
  • Duncan spent a majority of his warmup working on variety of screen plays (pick and roll, pick and fade, etc.) with assistant coach Ime Udoka.
  • The Grizzlies typically practice pretty early so I did not get a chance to watch any of their warmups.
  • I didn't look during the game but I didn't notice Chip Engelland in the shoot around. His presence is usually obvious.

Standard Pop Pre-Game Quote

Does anybody know we have a game against Memphis tonight?

- Pop after a barrage of questions concerning the $250,000 fine issued by Darth Stern.

Game Hash

For the most part, the Spurs offense flowed decently well. Both ball movement and ball control was solid and the squad consistently pushed the pace in their favor. With the exception of Danny Green, who left the game later with tightness in his hamstring, the Spurs who skipped out on Thursday looked fresh. Tim and Tony got things started with both hitting 3 of their first 5 shots and Manu Ginobili continued the trend by going 2 of 4 in the first quarter. The positive stops there though as the rest of the team failed to connect on any of their shots in the first 12 minutes of the game.

In fact, the team outside of the big three shot horrifically through the first three quarters despite a plethora of open looks away from the basket.

  • 1st Quarter: 0-8 FG
  • 2nd Quarter: 1-7 FG
  • 3rd Quarter: 3-10 FG

In the final minute of the third quarter and with the Spurs trailing by 15, Patty Mills entered the game for the first time.After Nando De Colo secured the ball after the block, he found a sprinting Mills for a last second layup and also the first Spurs points in over 3 minutes. It was a good final note at the end of a terrible 5-19 FG quarter for San Antonio. Coach Popovich stated after the game that he felt Mills and the group were a "spark" in getting the Spurs back into the game due their aggressiveness on offense and work on the other end.

And, as usual, Pop was right. The same group that finished out the third, opened up with a 10-3 burst in the final quarter. After an abysmal 36 minutes of production, the team around the Big Three finally came to life knocking down 7 of their 10 shots (4 of those from deep) and making up 20 of the Spurs 27 fourth quarter points. Gary Neal, who before the fourth quarter was a frigid 11% from the floor, led the team in the fourth quarter with 10 points.

In over time, Tony Parker and Tim Duncan took over again, making all of the Spurs' 12 overtime points. The Spurs defense, with the help of two missed calls against San Antonio (that's worth $250,000, right?), held the Grizzlies to 3 of 11 shooting and forced 6 turnovers (scoring 8 off of those).

My Game Boss

Duncan

TIM DUNCAN

PTS

FGM

FGA

REB

OREB

BLK

AST

TO

27

11

17

15

6

1

4

4


Tim Duncan was the boss from start to finish, His scoring dropped in the second half but he still made an impact and came up with crucial points late in the game.

Game Runt

Ellington

WAYNE ELLINGTON

PTS

FGM

FGA

AST

REB

STL

TO

PF

3

1

3

1

3

1

0

2

Who..?

This Thing Was Over When...

...Jerryd Bayless flinged the ball down court after securing a defensive rebound with 11 seconds to go in overtime. The ball bounced off the tip of Rudy Gay's fingertips and out-of-bounds. The Grizzlies were then forced to foul and the Spurs sealed the victory with a set of free throws.

What Were You Thinking...

...Dan Crawford when Gary Neal held on to the ball nearly half a second past the shot clock? I know this ended up being in the Spurs favor but I'm not a fan of when any team gets a bad call in the final minutes.

By the Numbers

  • 15 - Grizzlies lead near the end of the third quarter.
  • 14 - Fourth quarter points by the Grizzlies
  • 11 - Consecutive missed 3PT shots by San Antonio before finally making one to open the second half.
  • 21 - First half points by Tim Duncan.
  • 4/25 - FGM/FGA by players not named Duncan, Parker, or Ginobili in the first 3 quarters.
  • 29 - Total of 3PT attempts by the Spurs.
  • 7 - Total made 3PT shots by the Spurs.
  • 5 - Made 3PT shots in the fourth quarter by the Spurs.
  • 21.6/11,5/2.9/1.6 - Duncan's season per 36 minutes averages in points/rebounds/blocks/turnovers.

Odds & Ends

  • Darrell Arthur is an important key to the Grizzlies success this season.
  • There needs to be more double-zero jerseys in the NBA.
  • Watching Hamed Haddadi dribble a ball is a delight. Sometimes it looks as if he is dribbling a ping pong ball off a cobblestone road.
  • I was disappointed that James Anderson didn't get any meaningful minutes in this one. Especially with how off Gary Neal was throughout most of the game.
  • You could tell that Marc Gasol was itching to get back at Duncan after getting posterized.
  • GAME DAY BALA


Bird is the Word

@calebjsaenz: Are the Spurs putting their big guy who can't jump on the Grizzlies' big guy who can't jump? Or will the Spurs just go fatty-on-fatty?

@HPbasketball: Well, Matt Bonner successfully defended Marc Gasol. Well played again, God.

‏@drew_48moh: Watching Tim Duncan and Marc Gasol fall over on that last play was like watching Jenga. "Is it... no... yes.... oh, it fell."

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

...Regain an offensive rhythm. Despite playing against the best defense in the Western Conference, the Spurs struggled to knock down open looks and capitalize on golden scoring opportunities, The 8-7 Milwaukee Bucks would be good start and are they also happen to be the first matchup of 6 straight against teams floating around .500. After that, a game against Boston and then a road back-to-back against the Thunder and Nuggets.

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

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