This is the second game in a row where Tim Duncan has accrued six assists. I noted it in the Spurs/Jazz GIFBD, and it remains true: The Spurs haven't lost this season when The Big Fundamental tallies six dimes or when Tiago scores in double figures.
This is actually the second Tim to Tiago score of the game and it comes at the 9:30 mark of the first quarter. Ryan Kelly brings help on Kawhi Leonard along the baseline to start this play. Whi wisely passes out of the double-team to Timmy, and since Kelly is busy with Leonard it leaves Tiago open in the restricted area. Big 21 wastes no time in sending a fastball into Splitter. From there it's just a mini-fake from Sparkles before he finishes with a simple little layup. Easy offense from the Spurs early, and it stayed that way for the entire game.
When Tim is finding Tiago Splitter for easy buckets it's clear that the Spurs are rolling offensively. There are a couple of things of note in this play. It starts with Timmy connecting with Parker on Tony's way to the paint. The Wee Frenchman dribbles through the lane as he makes his way away from the basket and returns the ball to Duncan in the same spot Tim made the first pass from. Notice how far Tony pulls Ryan Kelly off of Tiago, to stop an easy bucket, as he moves through the lane. This leaves Sparkles open for Tim to make another bounce-pass from the spot he hasn't left. The Brazilian secures the ball and with Jodie Meeks being the only Laker anywhere near the play, the big-man takes one left-handed dribble before finishing with a two-hand slam. Two easy ones for the good guys.
Here we find the Spurs in transition. Tony Parker pushes the ball up the court to Manu Ginobili on the left wing. The Manu makes a gorgeous pass across the court to Danny Green who is just arriving at the right wing. He lets the ball go about the time that Green's crossing half-court, and the ball finds Danny just behind the three-point line -- right at his chest -- and the Tarheel has time to set his feet and line up his shot before burying the ball in the net. It's a beautiful triple in rhythm for the defensive ace and long-range specialist. The most impressive part of the play is the pass from Gino. If anyone has any doubts about Numero Viente's abilities, I think it's clear that the man could have been a great quarterback in another life.
Bonus GIF Content: aespurs made a great observation in this GIF.
Look at the people sitting directly behind where Green shoots from. They have no idea whats going on and actually flinch to catch the ball because they're completely unaware that the pass is meant for Green.
I noted in the recap that Xavier Henry had a play that was so good I had to include it in the GIF Breakdown. Here it is. Henry loses Mills before crossing over Marco Belinelli on his way through the lane. He then has to deal with The Big Banger Aron Baynes. That's a really big dude that stepped up to challenge Henry. Xavier hangs in the air and gets a ridiculously tough shot to go. I may have been wrong in the last Lakers/Spurs GIFBD when I said that the Lakers didn't have a player other than Pau that could make the Spurs' roster. I would love to give the former 12th pick a look. This drive is completely awesome.
Let's go back to the wily Argentine for this next one. In this play we see Patty Mills with the ball in the left wing as Manu makes his way to the corner. As Manu receives the ball Patty takes advantage of Kent Bazemore, who is ball-watching, and curls around the former Warrior on his way through the lane. Mills gets a screen from Aron Baynes for good measure as Manu makes a terrific bounce-pass around Xavier Henry and just out of reach of Robert Sacre's foot. The pass hits Patty in the chest and he gets the layup off before Pau Gasol can swat it out of the air. It's a fantastic southern-hemisphere connection and the Spurs put up two more easy points.
Via El Jefe, J.R. Wilco. "This Manu Ginobili moment was brought to you by Tenacity. Tenacity: when you care enough to keep caring because you care too much to ever consider not caring."
One of the greatest winners and competitors the sport has ever seen missed a wide-open Kawhi in the right corner on his way to the hoop. Hey, he can't make every play. As soon as Manu receives the ball near the top of the arc he attacks Wesley Johnson. Johnson is able to recover and get a piece of the ball on Gino's drive to the rim, but the fieriest Spur sticks with the play. He recovers the ball, spins over his left shoulder, and gets a hook to drop. It's not too often that we see Gino score with a hook, and his effort in the play is accurately described as tenacious by the bossman. This team has a surplus of guys who can make things happen for the squad. The Spurs look mighty dangerous right now.
This wasn't Tony's most impressive score of the game or anything, but it's a great example of awareness and execution. It's a simple two-man game Whi and Tony run to get a wide-open jumper. The play starts with Whi passing out of the post as he reestablishes himself with marginally better position. Tony reenters the ball to Super Bruce and Jodie Meeks thinks enough of the former Aztec's post-game to double the young man. This leaves Tony completely unchecked at the top of the arc. Whi waits until Meeks has fully committed to him before he passes out to the Frenchman. Tony drains the long two, uncharacteristically leaves his arm up, and then shoots the bench a quick look. It's almost as if he is looking at the bench and saying, "See, it's easy, that's how you do it." after the bench had a lackluster performance. Even the eternally enthusiastic Patty Mills is lackluster in his Slapper -- feeling properly chastened, I guess.
Kawhi has been on a tear since he returned from his broken hand. Coming into this game he was averaging 13.4 points, 6.6 boards, two assists, 2.1 steals and 1.5 blocks in the ten games leading into this one. He put up those numbers while shooting 54.3% from the field and an amazine 51.9% from deep in just under 30 minutes a game. Now that the Spurs are healthy and Whi is playing like he has been the Spurs are more than dangerous. They're the last team that any other wants to see going forward.
Once Whi receives the ball in the left corner he makes a subtle fake and Wesley Johnson bites enough that Leonard has the baseline to drive with no one in his way. He's met by Pau at the rim, but Whi is able to use his body to create enough space for him to get a bunny to go. Look at the angle he takes to the rim which leads him away from the baseline and toward Gasol so that when he lays it up, his entire body (not to mention that extra-long arm) are between the ball and the big man. Kawhi's game is evolving before our eyes. That's just a good, smart basketball play. It seems to happen in slow motion for him as he carefully gets to the rim and shows good patience in waiting for Gasol to make his move before he scores two for the team.