With Tony Parker out nursing a shin contusion, Popovich started Cory Joseph in his place and moved Marco Belinelli into the starting lineup for Danny Green. The Spurs didn't look very sharp with this lineup, and Pop inserted Ginobili, Diaw, and Mills halfway through the quarter. The offense picked up, but the Spurs' defense continued to allow the Suns to score at a high clip. The Suns finished the quarter with 34 points on 60% shooting, including 5-of-5 from deep. Channing Frye was great, going 5-of-5 in the first five minutes of the game, and he finished the quarter a perfect 6-of-6 with half of his attempts from distance. The Suns looked Spurs-y in the first quarter, and nine of their 12 makes were assisted.
I'm not sure why Jeff Hornacek kept Channing Frye on the bench for so long after his incredible first quarter. He spent the first eight minutes of the second on the pine. That long layoff may have cooled him down, or it could have been the Spurs deciding not to give him wide open looks, but he missed his only shot of the second and turned the ball over on another possession. Speaking of turnovers, the first half of this contest was filled with them, and the teams combined for 22. Both teams were also lacking on the defensive end, and they combined for 117 first half points. The Spurs took a one-point lead into the break.
After another quarter of sloppy play by both teams the Spurs took a six point lead into the fourth. During the third this crazy sequence happened:
That was quite the ugly sequence. First, we see Plumlee decide to press Patty, who then sends a so-so outlet-pass to Ginobili who manages to miss a bunny. Manu immediately realizes he isn't going to score, grabs his own miss, and then make a weird sidearm cross-court pass to Danny, who by the time the ball gets to him is no longer open, but he jacks up a shot anyway. The ball takes an awkward bounce into Splitter's hands (notice the furious Popovich that wants a reset), and he feeds it to Manu who makes a great pass to Danny. I guess...that was good?
Breaking down Marco Belinelli's shooting
For a player long known for being a competent but inefficient scorer, is there any bigger surprise this year than San Antonio's Marco Belinelli leading the league in accuracy from behind the arc?
The Suns used a 10-0 run in the fourth quarter to take a two-point lead. Manu Ginobili had an all-hustle put-back to stop the bleeding for the Spurs, who had not scored in over four minutes, and had only scored four points in the first eight minutes of the fourth. This knotted the game at 95 apiece. Eric Bledsoe then tried to sell a foul, and when he didn't get the call, he committed a frustration foul. Ginobili knocked down a three after the inbounds to give the Spurs a three point advantage.
Let's take a break from the game and talk about Manu Ginobili for a minute. The Manu had a great game tonight. What Manu brought tonight won't show up in the stat sheet, well, he did have a good night in a traditional sense, but more importantly, every time the Spurs needed a spark tonight , the Argentine delivered. Yes, he turned the ball over five times, but he kept his team in the game when they needed him, and he was the best player on the floor during the critical final-stretch of the game. I've seen enough of Manu this year to feel comfortable saying that he is having a bounce-back season. He looks strong and fearless, and his shot is falling. A resurgent Manu should cause the rest of the league to worry just a little.
Let's get back to the game, and more of Manu. Two possessions after the triple Manu hit to put the Spurs up three, he received a pass from Boris and scored. He then stole the ball on the ensuing play, and the possession unfortunately ended in a Patty Mills miss. Ginobili did draw two fouls that sandwiched a Timmy layup and he converted on all four of his free throws to put the game away.
The Spurs outscored the Suns 15-6 in the final four minutes of this game, with the Magician scoring 11. After all the talk about the bench, Tim and Manu have reminded us all that they are truly special players. I'll continue to remind everyone that we are an extremely lucky bunch, and I won't stop until they hang 'em up, sorry.
- Tim Duncan. This is the fifth game in a row that Timmy has registered a double-double. Tonight he finished with 17 points and 13 rebounds to go along with his three blocks, three assists, and two steals. I caught yesterday's episode of The Mothership's Pardon the Interruption, and one of the topics was 'who would you take for this season, Tim or Blake?' Tony Kornheiser said that this might be the season you should take Blake Griffin, and Mike Wilbon responded with something like: maybe, just maybe, during some season the correct answer will be Blake, but not this one. I still have Timmy in my top-10 players in the league. Darn right! The Ageless One continues to get it done, just as he has for the previous 42,064 minutes he had played coming into tonight.
- I saw someone on Twitter remark that this was the worst game that Kawhi had played in his career. What?! Kawhi struggled a little when he was handling the ball, and he didn''t shoot well, but he had six rebounds, a couple of assists, and I never thought he wasn't playing well on the defensive side of the floor - even if I don't think it was a remarkable defensive performance. It's funny what non-Spurs fans can take away from a game.
- The Suns ball movement didn't carry over from their crazy first quarter. They notched nine assists in that quarter and only seven for the rest of the game.
- Goran Dragic is having a fine season, and he is still annoying the Spurs. He didn't have the greatest game tonight, but he did have several drives to the hole where he finished pretty tough shots. He was also the only player for the Suns that managed to score in the last five minutes of the game.
- The Spurs have won 80% of their games, but in the wild Western Conference they sit in third place at the moment. That's crazy.
- Miles Plumlee did a decent job against Duncan tonight. He stole the ball a couple of times and forced Tim into a couple of tough shots. Who is Miles Plumlee, you ask? He's just a guy that was relegated to the D-League last year, but has made the most of his opportunity with the Suns this year. He finished the night with 13 points, 13 rebounds, and a couple blocks to go along with his steals. This Suns team is playing well without having anyone that is even in the all-star conversation. Apologies to Eric Bledsoe, but there are way too many good guards in the West for him to be in the conversation.
This was a good win tonight against a good team, and the Spurs go into the always rockin' Oracle Arena to face the Warriors, who just got Andre Iguodala back, tomorrow night. Getting a win in Golden State on a SEGABABA without Tony Parker seems like a much tougher task than beating the Suns tonight. With tomorrow night's late game being a SEGATENI (seventh game in ten nights) we might see Pop rest Timmy with Oklahoma City visiting the Alamo City on Saturday night. Who knows though, Timmy has been on a roll, and he might really fight to play.
For the opponents perspective visit Golden State Of Mind.