Morning Rehash: That's a signature win. Seriously.

The new Gary Neal. - Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports

Thanks in large part to the worst team in the NBA, the Spurs won in a blowout, as the bench came through to demolish the Bucks in the second half.

I know most of you probably spent the night watching the NFC Championship game, so I won't keep you long. Thankfully, the final outcome of this snoozer prevented me from finding much to glean from the chalk outlines left behind of the Bucks roster. Sunday night's contest was a demolition, from start to finish.

A particular sequence near the end of the third quarter provides a neat summary of what unfolded for the fans in attendance:

Screen_shot_2014-01-19_at_10

A de Colo three-pointer. A Malcolm "Mahinmi-Bonsu" Thomas block. A Jeff Ayres jumpshot. Everything you'd ever need to know about this game in just about thirty seconds. But really, you could pull any similar stretch in the second half and see one thing: dominance.

At no point in the game was the outcome ever in doubt. The Spurs were simply in control. And when the buzzer sounded, I smiled and nodded. There it is. A signature win.

You might laugh reading that, and that's okay. The Bucks are very clearly the worst team in the NBA right now, a discombobulated mess of a roster led by Larry Drew Breeze, the league's last Vinny Del Negro. The Spurs were supposed to win, and any other outcome would have been shocking.

But that's precisely the point. The Spurs did what they had done 31 other times this season: they showed up prepared, and they executed as predicted.

In and of itself, that's unremarkable -- boring even. But it shouldn't be. The level of consistency the Spurs are showing is rare. That it's happening in a short period where the roster has been slammed by injuries is something to admire.

Tony Parker sat out this game, along with Tiago Splitter, Danny Green, and Matt Bonner. The Bucks were mostly healthy, missing starter Caron Butler. Still, the Spurs won by 28 points. Their leading scorer was an undersized Australian point guard, and they got significant minutes from a French guard who doesn't shoot particularly well and may be an out of rotation NBA player at best.

Allow me to emphasize one more time: This was only the Bucks. The Spurs did what they were supposed to do, but the only reason they were supposed to win, despite missing three of their top eight rotation players, is because they have a clear system that yields predictably successful results. No Tony Parker? The Spurs can adjust, making the most out of a bad situation. They'll plug in players who know where to be and when to move to get there, and while Popovich can't make Patty Mills into Tony Parker, he can make him into the most successful Patty Mills.

Looking across the court, it was plain how unique this is. The Bucks struggled to play after they lost their own star guard. Yep, that would be Luke Ridnour. "Star" might seem like a strong word (it's probably the strongest possible word for Luke Ridnour), but that's exactly the impression Larry Drew gave as he struggled to find something in his rotation that could work in Ridnour's absence, after the guard left the game in the second quarter with a wrist injury.

It's easy to dismiss Sunday night's game, but San Antonio wrapped up an easy blowout in a way that is quintessentially Spursian. Missing key players and a star from their available rotation, the Spurs nevertheless executed without hiccups or significant periods of difficult adjustments, relying mostly on a ragtag group of NBA journeymen and D-League call-ups. (Okay, alright. To be fair, Tim Duncan did suit up.) The Bucks did their part to make that look easy, but how many other teams this season have boasted blowouts under similar circumstances? It's a small list, and we shouldn't let the game go by without acknowledging how the Spurs' approach to player development creates its own kind of injury insurance. On a boring night in January, the Spurs filed a claim, and the bench showed up to take care of it.

Be sure to read Fred Silva's recap if you haven't already.

STANDARD POP QUOTE OF THE GAME

"We don't block shots. That's not part of our program. …That's a joke." – Pop on Malcolm Thomas' performance

GAME MVP

Mills

PATRICK SAMMY MILLS

PTS

FGM/FGA

AST

REB

STL

3PM/3PA

+/-

MIN

20

8/12

7

2

3

4/6

+22

26:43


Games like this one are why every roster needs a Patty Mills. Playing a team like the Bucks, so out of sorts that at one point they didn't realize they were on offense, it's a privilege to be able to throw in a player who has no qualms about firing away at the slightest and quickest opportunity. It helps that Mills can hit, too. Sunday night, he was lights out, hitting four of his six three point attempts (hat tip, Bucks defense), and he added a nice all around game, too, notching seven assists and three blocks. In 27 minutes of court time (second only to Tim Duncan's 28), Mills was a team leading +21. He had a great game, but watching him play, I couldn't help but feel a little bit for Gary Neal. Last year and the year before, these were the games where Neal would spread his undersized wings and fly free across the court. It had to hurt for him, watching another undersized guard take that role for the night.

GAME LVP

Mayo

OVINTON J'ANTHONY MAYO

PTS

FGM/FGA

AST

REB

STL

TO

+/-

MIN

0

0/4

2

1

0

1

-13

19:02


I was tempted to give this to Gary Neal, who had a rough night amid a season full of them, but then I looked at the box score and saw that OJ Mayo played. That I attended the game at the AT&T Center and still had to look at the box score to remember that OJ Mayo played tells you everything you need to know about his night. Mayo is without a doubt having a difficult year, but I'm sure the fact that his role remains undefined halfway through the season makes performances like this one more likely. In any case, he was dreadful and never really found any kind of rhythm. He's no Luke Ridnour (AHAHAHAHAHA), but he's definitely better than this.

GAME NOTES

  • It needs to be addressed: Gary Neal's problems on the Spurs were clear and widely discussed, but he was always professional and worked hard. A player like that deserves better than this mess of a Milwaukee Bucks team.
  • Before the game, Tony Parker received his second consecutive European Player of the Year Award, a much deserved accolade for a player who had incredible success in the NBA and with his national team this past year. Still, it's interesting that just a month ago we were discussing whether or not he was anti-Semitic. That the Simon Wisenthal Center accepted his apology surely helps.
  • Malcolm Thomas played. In fifteen minutes, he had nine rebounds, scored two points (on 1/4 shooting), missed both his free throws, blocked a shot, and turned the ball over once. He did okay, and that's fine. He's not the answer to a question about the roster. He's an undersized Power Forward that got the chance to play in a NBA game. That's pretty cool on its own. It doesn't have to be an earth shattering revelation.
  • The Spurs were fifteen point favorites before the Spurs announced Tony Parker would not suit up. Then they won by 28 points because Bucks.
  • Was anybody else confused by seeing "TD" in their timelines, wondering why Tim Duncan was suddenly so popular? Or was I the only one watching the Spurs game instead of the NFC Championship?
  • The highlight of the night didn't belong to an NBA player. The Coyote stepped a foot into the three-point line on one side of the court, turned his back to the basket on the other side, and hit a no-look, over-the-back shot across the court. That was easily the loudest the arena got all night.
  • As far as I know, this "Beli's Bombers" section is a new addition. It's also awesome and potentially inappropriate. Beyinhqcyaajoq_

BY THE NUMBERS

  • $44 million: What the Bucks will pay Larry Sanders over this season and the three after it.
  • $36 million: What the Spurs will pay Tiago Splitter over this season and the three after it.
  • 36: Seconds that passed in the game before Larry Drew had to call a timeout.
  • 1: Points Manu Ginobili scored in 22 minutes of playing time. And you know what? It didn't matter in the slightest.
  • 2: Number of normal person hands you could fit inside one of Giannis Antetokounmpo and/or Kawhi Leonard's hands.

BIRD IS THE WORD

THE GAME IN SONG

For Gary Neal: "So when you think of me, if and when you do / Just say, well, another man's done gone"

GOING FORWARD, THE SPURS NEED TO...

Win. Yeah, I know I just spent the better part of this rehash trying to make you reevaluate what makes a "signature win," but it would be nice to beat an Oklahoma City Thunder team that's still missing Russell Westbrook. A victory wouldn't necessarily remove the "Spurs can't beat elites" asterisk, but it wouldn't hurt, either. The game is Wednesday night. I'd expect Tony Parker to play.

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