Morning Rehash: Another Close Call

Gotta love Matt Bonner's face in this. 'Are you magic?' - Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports

The depleted Spurs played the similarly depleted Hawks in a late season matchup that was missing multiple All-Stars. The Hawks kept the game close, but a vintage Tim Duncan performance led the Spurs to the win.

Opening Hash

The Atlanta Hawks have not won a championship during their tenure in Georgia. Originally the Buffalo Bisons, the franchise was founded in 1946 and moved locations three times before finally settling in Atlanta in 1968. Concerning a title, the Hawks have not done particularly well in their 45 years in Atlanta. The Hawks have the second longest streak without a championship in the NBA dating back to 1958 - a 54 year drought behind only the Sacramento Kings (since 1951). The franchise has never had many successful players stay with them for a long time other than All-Time Great Dominique Wilkins (who went in his later career to San Antonio and became a solid bench scorer at 18.2 PPG), but 'Nique never won in his twelve year tenure with the Hawks. Dominique now continues his career in Atlanta as an analyst for FSSportsSouth Hawks just like our Sean Elliott does with FSSouthWest.

Dominque Wilkins was just another one of those stars (Barkley, Malone, Stockton, etc) in the league that had the bad luck of playing in the Magic/Bird and Michael Jordan era. Only the Philadelphia 76ers, the Detroit Pistons and the Houston Rockets were able to pry away championships during that time, and did it with amazine team play (plus a good dose of Dream Shake). You know, the kind we need the Spurs to get back to. Wilkins led the league in scoring in 1986 and finished second to other times behind Jordan, who averaged more than 35 PPG in both of those seasons. Those were the years when Jordan was just finding his offensive game and was still without the complete skill set to take his team all the way. (The team also needed a few more role players, but that's not what people think about when they think of the 90's Chicago Bulls.)

While still making 9 straight All-Star games, 'Nique never made it past the semifinals in Atlanta for the twelve years he played there. Wilkins was unceremoniously traded to the Los Angeles Clippers in 1992 and, since then, the Hawks haven't been the same. Atlanta squeaked into the playoffs quite a few times but never made much noise. An eight-year drought existed before Joe Johnson revived the franchise. Johnson had a similar effect as Dominique Wilkins (getting into the playoffs, losing quickly, and scoring lots of points along the way), albeit with less fanfare and an obscene contract.

The Hawks have been a middle-of-the-road franchise (record-wise) and have not seen their best days in half a century. The franchise has an overall regular season and playoff record that falls under .500, and won't be getting over that hill for at least a couple of seasons. Sometimes, with the sustained success that the Spurs have, it's easy to forget that some franchises in the league have been mired in bad-to-decent states of existence for decades. The Hawks have been able to remain competitive in the Eastern Conference leaning heavily on Josh Smith and Al Horford (who could be a scary front court combo if Smith was more diligent with his play). Josh Smith has played particularly well In what very well may his last year in the Atlanta. If the Hawks lose Smith, they will have over 30 million dollars to spend in free agency (considering they don't sign most of their other expiring contracts as well, six of which are unrestricted). The front office could go all out and try to sign Dwight Howard or even Chris Paul but they are more than likely going to save for the upcoming 2014 free agency bonanza, which could see the breakup of "The Heatles."

Pop is agitated

'He feels better today than he did yesterday. That's a fact.'

-Pop on how Tony Parker is feeling recently.

'36.5%'

-Pop on how much Nando De Colo has improved since the beginning of the season.

Quickie Game Hash

Be sure to check out the recap by J. Gomez.

The game never seemed like it was going to be a close one considering that head coach Larry Drew was resting Horford, Smith, Kyle Korver, and Devin Harris. But without Tony and Manu to run the Spurs' offense, the Hawks stuck around, never falling behind by more than 12 points. Atlanta rallied furiously to close the gap in the last minutes of both quarters in the second half. Mike Scott and John Jenkins, two rookies who haven't seen much time the past four games, scored more than half (55) of the team's output and were the only Hawks to hit more than 50% of their shots. Jenkins hit a ridiculous 7-9 FG, going 3-3 from beyond the perimeter. The Spurs kept the Hawks at bay, who only led early on in the game (2-0) and the very beginning of the second quarter (22-21). For whoever watched the game, it was disconcerting seeing the injured Hawks keeping the game close through three pointers, mid range jumpers, and general complacency by San Antonio. Thankfully, last night was one of those games where the victory came about simply because of, 'We have Tim Duncan, and you don't'.

My Game Boss

Duncan
TIM DUNCAN
PTS FGM FGA REB BLK AST TO MIN
31 12 21 14 4 3 3 32:41

Any explanation needed? Not really, but I'll just state that he shot better than 50%, hit 7/8 free throws (87.5%) and anchored the defense. Still going strong.

Game Runt

4371_medium ANTHONY TOLLIVER
PTS FGM FGA REB AST STL PF MIN
0 0 3 1 0 0 4 25:11

Tolliver played 25 minutes, and didn't contribute much to the box score. I saw him play, but didn't really hear his name or notice him unless he fouled Timmy down low. Anthony grabbed one rebound, not a good number for a post player.

Numbers of Note

  • 3 - Spurs who scored in double figures (Duncan, Leonard, and Blair).
  • 20% - Spurs' three point percentage. Without Tony or Manu driving to the hoop and sucking in defenders to the paint, our three point guys don't have as much space to operate and have shot poorly as of late.
  • 41.7% - Hawks' three point percentage, buoyed by John Jenkins' perfect percentage from downtown. That guy can shoot.
  • 10 - Straight games for Tim Duncan where he has tallied more than thirty minutes played and averaged almost 25 points, nearly 13 rebounds, and 3 blocks per game. That's First-Team All NBA right there.
  • +11 - Spurs' rebounding advantage against Atlanta. They secured 49 rebounds compared to 38 for the Hawks. Johan Petro grabbed 15 but no other Hawk had more than 6.
  • 12 - Blocks by the Spurs. 4 for Timmy, 2 for Kawhi, and one each for DeJuan and Cory. The surprise addition: Matt Bonner, who had 4, a career high.
  • 10 - Steals by the Hawks, who were hawking passing lanes and stealing lazy passes from the Spurs. This contributed to 67% of the 15 turnovers by San Antonio.
  • 24 - Assists by the Spurs, the league leaders in assists per game. 23 by the Hawks, who are right behind the Spurs, averaging 24.5 (Hawks) to 25.1 for the Spurs.
  • 23 - Points by John Jenkins...in 28 minutes. Nearly scored a point for every minute he's out there. Timmy had a similar effect (31 in 33 minutes), but it's impressive for a rookie to do that much with little playing time.

Odds & Ends

  • We really need Tony and Manu to come back and lead the offense. After seeing their abilities to lead the attack, it's hard to see Nando and Cory (a rookie and a second year player) try to do so in their places. They don't yet have the full command required for the system.
  • Stephen Jackson is amazine. Check Exhibit One and Exhibit Two for proof.
  • Hawks have never won in the AT&T Center and are losers of 15 straight in San Antonio. The Hawks announcers admitted that was bad, but turned the heat towards Golden State, who has lost 29 straight in San Antonio. Nice deflection, guys.
  • The Hawks announcers are great. Such good sports. Bob Rathbun thought of the free throw plan that the Hawks were trying to execute, and it nearly worked. Wilkins' response: 'You should be down there coaching.'
  • TD had a great first half, with 18 points, 8 rebounds, and 4 blocks. That's a lesser man's great box score for a full game. For Timmy, it's just a taste.
  • Kawhi's coast to coast buzzer beating layup at the end of the first half was great, and deflected questioning Gary Neal's foul on a Jenkins' three pointer a few seconds earlier. Yes, he converted the four point play.
  • Hawks were very careful with the ball. They didn't shoot particularly well outside of Jenkins and Scott, but only committed 12 turnovers and seemed to pressure the Spurs backcourt effectively. They nearly forced a backcourt violation late in the game that could have given them a chance to tie the game.
  • Spurs rebounded well defensively and subsequently limited the Hawks to only seven second chance points. If the Spurs can do this against the West, they'll have an easier time, as they are likely to be more efficient on the offensive end.

Bird is the Word

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

...get ready to feel the burn in their lungs. San Antonio will next face the dangerous Nuggets in Denver's thin air. Tim had a great game the last time he was in Denver and, with three days rest until then, I have the feeling he's going to get good minutes once again. After Denver, the Spurs face Sacramento and, soon after, the Lakers. Will Pop go all out against the Lakers to possibly change the outcome of the 8th? Or does Pop even care? Easy answer, kids.

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