Jesse Johnson-USA TODAY Sports
The Spurs faced the Timberwolves without Tony Parker, Tim Duncan and Kawhi Leonard in Minnesota the day after beating OKC in San Antonio. It didn't go well.
So, does anyone out there, aside from the two trolling Minnesota fans, really want a recap of that game? I suppose if you missed it, I should give a quick summary of how the Spurs were pummeled in Minnesota, 83-107, in a greatly unwatchable game.
The first thing you should know is that the Spurs are still without All Star point guard Tony Parker. While his rehab is apparently ahead of schedule, his return date has not been specified. To further decrease the odds of success, or to increase them (depending if you're thinking short term or long term), Popovich decided to keep Kawhi Leonard and Tim Duncan in San Antonio. He made up some injuries to avoid a fine from Stern. (Thanks, Stern. Lesson learned.)
The second thing you should know is that this was a SEGABABA, and the Spurs definitely impressed the night before. Approximately 1,252 miles south of Minnesota, the Spurs defeated the Oklahoma City Thunder 105-93 in San Antonio the previous night. So, after that emotionally, physically draining win, the Spurs got on a plane and flew all the way to Minnesota. It just feels like a draining proposition, doesn't it? Well, the Spurs that made the trip certainly played as if it was.
The Spurs played an absolutely hideous game. Aside from a decent first quarter, the game was basically unwatchable. Midway through the second quarter, the Spurs were down double digits and were never able to recover. I mean, there was never a point when I thought, "Well, if a few things go our way, we could get back into this one." The 15 point deficit might as well have been 100 points.
It wasn't the Spurs' night and it seemed they were more than willing to accept that fact. If you want to take away something negative from a SEGABABA in which the team traveled 1,252 miles without Tony, Tim and Kawhi to play in a half empty arena, I think the fact the Spurs gave up is fair game. Even Popovich was fairly disinterested. There were many points throughout the game where I thought he should have been in the referees' ears or should be calling timeout, when instead he seemed happy to just let this game end.
To confound things even more, Minnesota played unexpectedly well. Obviously, they had a hand in this one-sided affair. I only say unexpectedly because the way in which they won, making shots, is not one of their strengths. The worst 3-point shooting team in the league made 12 of their 20 3-pointers against the Spurs. In addition, a bottom five team in the league in field goal shooting shot 53.7% from the field.
The Minnesota disheveled hobbit, Ricky Rubio, used his super-powers tonight. He used his hairy little feet to scamper to his first triple double of his career: 21 points, 13 rebounds and 12 assists. I assume he'll eventually learn how to shoot. When that happens, the hobbit is going to be very good. The elf, Luke Ridnour, and other hobbit, JJ Barea, also played well. Basically, Minnesota's freakish little guys played as well as possible and the Spurs....
On the other end, the Spurs were awful up and down the roster and in nearly every statistical category. The Spurs shot 35% from the field, 31% from distance and were outrebounded by 10. The Spurs played uninspired basketball and once they got down, couldn't muster any kind of comeback. It was disappointing.
I thought I could find one Spur on the roster that played well, but I was wrong. Statistically, De Colo had the best game: 13 points, 4 rebounds, 2 assists and 0 turnovers in 20 minutes. But honestly, it doesn't pass my eye-ball test. I am a De Colo fan and if he actually played a good game, I think I would have noticed. Of course, his good play could have just been drowned out by the wolf howls that were blasted in the empty Minnesota arena. Those wolf howls distracted me. I don't think that should be allowed. It's essentially asking the few, very few, fans inside the arena to boo the officials. In addition, it's freaking annoying.
But I digress, Tiago followed his incredible performance against OKC with a 1 for 10 dud. Stephen Jackson played like an old man. Matt Bonner doesn't shoot threes anymore so I don't know why the heck we play him. Danny Green is a system player and as the system failed, so did he. DeJuan Blair didn't give the effort that is required of a 6'6" "big man" to be successful. Gary Neal played only 7 minutes. I don't know why that happened. Mills was 2 for 7 and chubby Boris Diaw was 3 for 11.
And finally, Manu had a rough game. I do think Manu can get back to playing well on the offensive end of the floor. What really has me worried is his ability to stay in front of anyone on the defensive end. I don't think he has that lateral movement right now. He's so slow moving side to side that he doesn't even have the ability to poke the ball away as the guy blows by him. He's swinging and catching nothing but air.
That's not a good thing. If we're going to close games with him in the playoffs, we're going to need him to play defense so the Spurs can get those vital stops. Maybe I'm wrong about this and Jesus will write a 1,500 word post on how Manu is actually playing good defense and it's just difficult to notice when passively watching the Spurs get blown-out. But until that column comes out, I'm going to worry about Manu's defensive capability.
In summary, there are an infinite number of excuses that can be made and we still have the best record in the West. I think that's enough reason to forget this ever happened and hope the Spurs show up this Thursday in the showdown against the Mavericks. If we beat the Mavs, all is forgiven. Just beat the Mavs.