I've gotta say that I missed Kawhi Leonard. Every day while he was out I hoped that he would return sooner rather than later. It turned into later, but his return was completely brillian. I spent plenty of time thinking about his return, but even so, I wasn't really prepared for how much he brings to the team. Sure his defense is among the best in the league, and his rebounding was missed in his absence, but every game he plays in he makes great things happen in transition with his steals and his dunks. My confidence in the team is so much higher with him on the floor.
This win wasn't just about Kawhi though. The entire team gave great effort and they really excelled at sharing the ball. It wasn't a perfect game by any means, as the turnovers were a problem and at times the team struggled to secure defensive rebounds, but there were plenty of bright spots in the game. The good guys never seemed to be on top of their game and in that, it would seem that the top of their game is quite high. 34 assists, 54% shooting, nine players between eight and twenty points and it looked like the Spurs were at maybe 60% of their potential--I mean, Tony Parker didn't even play as he's still nursing a variety of maladies.
Yes, it was the Pistons, who have now lost 6-of-7 since beating the Spurs back on the 10th, but don't you just sense the team coming together at the right time? San Antonio survived all of those injuries, won two thirds of their games on the RRT, and find themselves just one game back in the loss column to OKC for first in the West. Homecourt advantage through the first three rounds of the playoffs is fully in reach for the team, and just as they get everyone back. That's a heck of a position to be in with 14 of the last 25 games at home and only 12 against teams over .500.
Patty's Got A Brand New Bag
Here you go Pounders, Patty highlights from the season accompanied by none other than Mr. Dynamite, Soul Borther Number One, James Brown, with his early-funk classic - Papa's Got a Brand New Bag.
The first possession of the game saw Kawhi Leonard take a shot and I swear it looked like he hadn't played basketball in like a month. On the following possession Brandon Jennings was unable to handle Duncan's lockdown perimeter defense and Timmy came up with a steal...on a poing guard--strange stuff for sure. Kawhi missed a couple of easy layups before he knocked down a triple, to the delight of those in attendance on Kawhi Bobblehead night. On the following play Cory Joseph stole the ball and found a streaking Whi for an otstanding alley-oop dunk that will definitely be included in the GIF Breakdown. Nice to have Kawhisenberg back.
Both teams started off shooting the ball poorly, but Josh Smith found his touch for the Pistons and Kyle Singler was a perfect 4-of-4 in the first quarter. Smith knocked down a couple of three-balls and was generally finding success against the Spurs. For the Spurs, Manu Ginobili was pretty bad to begin the game. He missed his first three shots and turned the ball over three times in the first quarter as the Spurs took a two-point lead into the second.
Josh Smith had some kind of start to this one. Everything he was throwing up was finding it's way through the hoop and halfway through the second he had 20 points to go along with his five boards and five assists. The Spurs looked rusty for the first half and were careless with the ball--turning it over 11 times. The sloppy play from San Antonio led to a six-point deficit after Singler hit another jumper (5-of-5) following an awful pass from Tiago that missed by several feet. The Spurs then finished out the last three and a half minutes of the second on a 10-0 run led by Timmy's six straight points and better defense from the team as a whole. 57-53 Spurs at the half. It wasn't a very pretty half of ball from the good guys, but that run to close out the half was a nice chunk of play from San Antonio.
Brandon Jennings injured his toe and the Pistons went with Will Bynum to start the third and he came out and scored six straight for Detroit to give them a two-point lead. The game went back and forth for a little while and during the first couple of minutes Kawhi came up with a steal that turned into an amazine transition dunk for the GOATPUFF. It's great to have Whi back in the mix, playing passing lanes and creating transition buckets for the Spurs. It was fun watching the boys come out every night with different guys and seeing what they could do, but it's getting late in the season and it's time to get some consistency in the lineup. It'll help when Baguette Parker returns to the court, and I'm excited to see what PATFO's full squad can do.
Halfway through the third quarter and The Manu finally connected on a sweet cut and layup. That's what The Chemist needed to get going, and he followed it up with another layup and an assist to his psychic buddy Marco for an and-one. Watching Manu and the Spicy One on the court together is quite the treat for Spurs fans. Gino then found his range and we got another Numero Viente tres. I have to admit that Marco's game snuck up on me. Diaw found him on a backdoor cut with a couple of minutes left in the third and the Italian had his 17th point of the contest on a completely ridiculous six field goal attempts.
The beginning of the fourth saw the Spurs play good defense but fail to secure defensive rebounds which led to a couple of Andre Drummond tip-ins. Danny Green was robbed of a clean block on Drummond, and the 40% free-throw shooting big man hit both of his freebies, of course. No matter for the good guys as they took better care of the ball and continued to have their way on the offensive end of the floor. Not much drama in the final period of this one, and Tim Duncan didn't even see the floor in the fourth.
- EIGHT! Spurs scored in double figures tonight. That is absolutely great, and they're going to need contributions from Patty, Marco, Boris and Ginobili come playoff time. This team is so easy to root for.
- San Antonio tallied 34 assists on the night, which ties their season high. This team is so easy to root for.
- Timmy only played 27 minutes on Wednesday night. This is great because every five or ten minutes the big guy can take off will hopefully make him fresher in the second season. Tim leads the team in minutes played this season, and I'd just assume that he is going to sit out one of the games during each of the teams five remaining BABAs.
- After his incredible first half (20-5-5) Josh Smith put up a 4-1-0 second half and finished with a team worst minus-18 for the night.
- Sparkles scored 13 points to go with his seven boards and six assists while playing a team-high 30 minutes. With all of the talk about his contract I took a poll in the game thread and it looks like 59% of you Pounders now feel more justified in thinking that Tiago is not overpaid after that performance.
- Gino was great after that awful start. In the final three quarters he was 6-of-8 from the field with 16 points, and he tallied nine dimes to a single turnover. Oh, and he had three steals. Healthy Manu, healthy Manu, healthy Manu.
The Spurs host the suddenly hot Bobcats on Friday. Big Al Jefferson is scoring all of the points over there and Charlotte has recent wins over Golden State, Dallas, and Memphis during their 6-2 run through their last eight. They're coming off of five days rest, so maybe they'll be rusty and the good guys can put that one away quickly and get some rest before playing Dallas at home on Sunday.
Check out Detroit Bad Boys for the Detroit fan's perspective.