Morning Rehash: Kawhi leads as Spurs bully Magic

Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports

The Spurs smother a shorthanded Magic team as Kawhi continues his transformation into T-1000.

As the preseason draws mercifully to a close, teams begin to answer most of their offseason questions. Like most teams, the Spurs have a pretty set crew at this point, having made enough cuts to bring the roster down to a flexible 14. All that's really left to iron out are the roles each player will have as the team starts to gel in the march toward the postseason.

For the Spurs, the biggest question mark remains at backup point guard. We've discussed the three options at PtR before, but this preseason game made it clear that finding a true backup point guard isn't exactly an emergency.

For a brief period in the game, the offense seemed to hum just fine as it funneled through the poetic chaos of Manu Ginobili and his partner, Marco Belinelli. Manu did as much damage as you'd expect him to against a Magic team that looked confused as it trudged on without Jameer Nelson and Nikola Vucevic. But it was Belinelli who provided the most grins, drawing multiple and-1 opportunities and passing with Ginoboli-esque accuracy and flair. While there will be some games when this pairing will have fans wanting to tear their hair out, many will feature ingenious displays of basketball wizardry, as the Spurs' offensive machine contorts itself under the direction of its most creative conductors.

But even if the offense of the second unit is likely to run through Manu and Marco, the Spurs will still have to play someone at backup point guard. And it's here where Patty Mills continues to impress, making the most of his time in a bid for a greater role on the team this season. Granted, this was a preseason game against a mediocre team missing two of its most important players, but Mills did all the little things you would expect from a player looking to impress his coaching staff. He scrambled for loose balls, took smart shots, and played effective defense.

One play in particular highlighted how Mills' manic energy can provide a boost to the Spurs. After missing a tough layup attempt, Mills saw Duncan gather the rebound and headed for the corner, getting the pass and knocking down a quick three-pointer. As the team headed back to the other end of the court, he saw an opportunity to make a play, leaping ahead of the inbounds pass for an easy steal and layup.

With as big a deal as we make of his scoring outbursts, it's easy to miss what Mills can bring to the table defensively. We're not likely to see him tally two blocks and five steals again any time soon, but the numbers do point to a player that is redefining how he approaches the unique opportunities afforded in limited minutes. After the game, Mills suggested that his freshly chiseled frame came about as a response to him recognizing his strengths and weaknesses as a part of the Spurs defense.

"I've got to understand what kind of a player I am and play to my strengths," Mills explained. "I've got to wear people out in fullcourt defense... But it's not that easy. You've got to be in really good shape to do that over a long period of time."

Mills' dedication to improving his game this offseason is paying off, and the Spurs are poised to benefit from him earning a bigger role in the team's plans.

Be sure to read Bruno Passos' recap of the game if you haven't already.

Standard Pop Quote

"Well I wish John Stockton was our backup point guard, if you're going to ask me what I really want." - Pop, at Monday's practice

Game MVP

Kawhi

KAWHI LEONARD

PTS

FGM/FGA

AST

REB

STL

TO

+/-

MIN

19

9/15

2

5

1

1

+16

20:48


This is the Kawhi Leonard that the Spurs are warning the league about. This is the guy that Grantland's Zach Lowe is gushing over. Kawhi Leonard was an absolute terror all night, putting the full arsenal of his game on display to the tune of 19 points and five rebounds in a little over 20 minutes. There were putbacks, post-ups, pull up jumpers, and even some impressive passes. And through it all, Kawhi looked totally at ease. Inhumanly calm. Robotically efficient. He is the NBA's T1000.

Game LVP

Decolo

NANDO DE COLO

PTS

FGM/FGA

AST

REB

STL

TO

+/-

MIN

7

3/7

1

1

1

1

-8

12:00


If Kawhi is a Terminator, then Nando De Colo is quickly becoming Johnny Five. The Short Circuit series actually provides a pretty good analogy for De Colo's time with the team. When the first Short Circuit movie came out, Johnny Five was this strange, quirky, and lovable robot buddy. But when the second movie came out, everything was off just enough to turn Johnny Five into a nuisance. Like Johnny Five in Short Circuit 2, Nando De Colo has become so insufferable that you can't remember why you liked him in the first place. The "Nando De Yolo" of last season is evolving into the "Nando De Culo" of this one. This is going to be a long year for Nando.

By The Numbers

  • 0 - Number of minutes Tony Parker played tonight.
  • 3 - Number of point guards Pop played down the stretch at the same time (a lineup that will forever be referred to as "Three Men and a Baynesie").
  • 3 - Estimated number of chain links on the leash Pop gave Nando De Colo.
  • 6 - Number of Spurs players to score in double figures
  • 25 - The Spurs' lead at the half. As Jeff McDonald suggested, they should consider installing a running clock for preseason blowouts.
  • 70 - Points scored by the Spurs' bench. Preseason!

Bird Is The Word

Odds And Ends

  • In his postgame interview with Bill Schoening, Assistant Coach Jim Boylen said he caught Patty Mills curling two 55 lb. dumbbells. Patty weighs like 170 lbs. That's crazy. Holy crap.
  • At least one definitive date for a Spurs promotional "Camo Night" was spotted at the AT&T Center: Saturday, November 15 versus the Washington Wizards. Sadly, no matter how much camouflage gear you're wearing, people will still be able to see you at a Wizards game.
  • Arron Afflalo got very angry with Jeff Ayres after getting tangled up with him on the way to the basket. At that point in the game, the Orlando Magic were down by 25 points. There was still a half left to play. Calm down there, guy.
  • Arron Afflalo, Victor Oladipo, Nikola Vucevic, Hedo Turkoglu, E'Twaun Moore - I haven't checked Synergy, but I'm pretty sure this Orlando Magic roster leads the league in vowels.
  • The AT&T Center played Led Zeppelin's "Immigrant Song" as Manu entered the game. As Dan McCarney's suggests, we might have to start calling Manu "Hammer of the Gods." At least until the Zeppelin intro music becomes a regular thing.

Going forward, the Spurs need to...

Finish the preseason without anyone getting injured. We're almost there, friends. The season is just a week away. Staying healthy shouldn't be too difficult, but if Nando De Colo continues to play poorly, Pop might have to resort to corporal punishment. Here's hoping it doesn't come to that.

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