It was hipster night at the AT&T Center with the Brooklyn Nets in town, but the Spurs were the only thing deck about the 104-73 massacre that took place on New Year's Eve.
In celebration of NYE I'm going to be corny, and I'll be referencing the Hipster Handbook fairly often.
Tony Parker dominated the Nets' defense from the start, running Brooklyn's $100-million man in and out of pick-and-rolls and completely outplaying Deron Williams in virtually every aspect. The Spurs' All-Star point guard put up 20 points and six assists in just more than 25 minutes, hitting nine of his 13 shot attempts.
"I thought Tony set the tone for us. I thought he was a monster tonight," Gregg Popovich said. "Offensively aggressive; defensively, really focused, really committed. I thought he was fantastic and everybody followed suit.
"We had a good night."
San Antonio shot 59 percent from the field to Brooklyn's 38 percent and tripled the visitors in points off turnovers, 28-9, even pushing the lead out to 35 at one point.
But the story of the game was the third quarter. A Nets team with two maximum-salary players was outscored 30-5 in the period and run out of the building in the second half. A sieve defensively with an offense as efficient as an original Humvee, Brooklyn played like a team with more issues than just a recently fired head coach. No one could stay in front of Parker, defensive rotations could not handle San Antonio's ball movement, and 18 turnovers provided a topping for Brooklyn's pie tonight. The Nets were, in a word, fin, and the five points allowed by the Spurs in the third were a franchise low for an opponent in a third quarter.
During the post-game press conference with Pop, a Brooklyn reporter asked the coach why he felt Williams wasn't playing as well as he was in Utah.
"I'm not saying that. You're saying that," Pop said. "I've got enough trouble figuring out my team. I don't judge players on other teams."
The reporter took his recorder out of the scrum and left the room, casting his proverbial grenade into the crowd and leaving us with Popovich after being given the frigidaire. Tonight wasn't about Williams or the current dysfunction of the Nets organization, it was about the progressive rounding into form of this Spurs team.
The schedule hasn't been very difficult lately, and the Nets came out of the half apparently without the ability to play basketball. So while there isn't much to gauge the Spurs' recent success against, the signs of consistency are back in the form of Stephen Jackson, Kawhi Leonard and a suddenly spry Manu Ginobili. It hasn't been a highlight-reel season for Manu, especially since the back spasms derailed the start of his season. Slowly but surely, however, the Spurs' invaluable sixth man has begun to put things together.
Ginobili had eight points, five assists and three steals on 3-for-4 shooting in just 20 minutes. While his mini-streak of 20-plus points per game came to an end, Manu has been getting into the paint with much more ease than we've seen for the majority of the season.
"I have been feeling good the past few weeks, it just happened that in the last two games I made shots and that makes it more noticeable," he said. "I feel healthy and able to attack the rim more, and sometimes you are going to be able to score and sometimes that is not the case. But the important thing is that I am feeling good."
The Spurs absolutely crushed the Nets to round out 2012, holding them to a season low in points for an opponent. But despite dominating New Jersey 56-32 in points in the paint, San Antonio barely outrebounded a team they beat by 31 points. The defense continues to play well, and the team's defensive efficiency rating has no doubt spiked in the last week at the expense of some less than stellar offenses. And the impressive defensive numbers can't solely be explained by the quality of these opponents. The Spurs were playing good defense without Jack and Kawhi, so their return to the court should theoretically correlate with further improvement. But the rebounding trend is a bit of a concern. It's not something to lose sleep over, but it's something to watch, at least.
But for now, it's a good time to celebrate. It was a pretty good 2012 for the Spurs, all things considered, but there are only higher expectations for the upcoming calendar year. The Spurs hit the road for a couple of games in Milwaukee and New York, so with Jackson's celebrity New Year's Eve party looming this evening, the rest for San Antonio's starters was welcomed.
"It was good to get some rest because we are going to have four games in five nights, so (Pop) is always doing a great job of resting everybody," Parker said. "We will be pretty fresh and ready to go against Milwaukee."
Considering the type of parties Jack seems capable of throwing, one can only hope.
Hope everybody had a great 2012, and here's to a happy new year! I appreciate everyone who visits PtR and reads all of our ramblings. Wouldn't be fun without you guys. So get out there, bust a moby, have a jug or a few bronsons and don't be a frado. But above all be safe.
Happy New Year!