Saturday night, the Spurs played the Magic in San Antonio. The Spurs were looking for their sixth straight win while Orlando was hoping to win their fifth road game of the season. These two teams are on very different paths. San Antonio beat the Heat in their last outing, and after that emotionally draining game, I thought this was a bit of a trap game for the Spurs. The Magic are pretty terrible this year and I felt it would be difficult for the Spurs to be properly motivated for tonight's game.
It was a very sluggish affair and I couldn't figure out if the Magic were playing well or if the Spurs were playing poorly. The Spurs seemed like a team trying to care and the Magic weren't good enough to really make the Spurs pay, but still managed to keep it close. It was a very strange game to watch. Are the Spurs awful or are the Magic playing great? Why is the game so close? Is the crowd awake? Are you reading this? If the players don't want to be here, does the game really need a recap? I found myself with a lot of unanswered questions.
The disinterested Spurs and the inept Magic were actually pretty evenly matched. Orlando managed to keep the game close for three quarters. The Spurs were unable to go on a real run and so the Magic hung around, hitting shots every so often to be sure they were still within striking distance. San Antonio wasn't in control of the game, but you could just tell that the Magic weren't capable of running away with it. The two teams traded leads many times in the first three quarters. It seemed like the Spurs were a few stops away from putting the Magic away, but they were never able to get those stops. I guess that's a lack of effort, or maybe it was the Magic trying a little too hard. I still don't know.
In the first three quarters the Magic only turned the ball over four times and shot 47% from the field. Going into the fourth quarter, the score was 88-83, Spurs up by five. Now, the Spurs normally shut down teams with the talent of the Magic, but in this game, Orlando really played about as well as possible and so it was close. In the fourth, the Spurs never trailed, but the Magic kept it close.
Fittingly, the three players that decided the game were Tony Parker, Manu Ginobili and Kawhi Leonard. For me, those three were the players of the game. With 5:16 remaining, the Spurs were up five points, 104-99. Tony, Manu and Kawhi led the Spurs on a 15-5 run that secured the win for the Spurs. It was the Spurs' sixth win in a row and the Spurs are now tied with Indiana and OKC for the best record in the NBA at 46-16. Sweet.
- Tony Parker had a hot start and finished strong. Tony had 11 points in both the first and fourth quarters, finishing with 30 points and five assists. Since Tony returned from his variety of maladies, he's been beginning games very aggressively. It's really helped the team to get off to a good starts recently and is a big reason that the Spurs won their sixth game in a row tonight.
- Manu Ginobili scored 24 points on 10 of 17 shooting from the field. He also had five assists, three rebounds, a steal and just one turnover. Manu looked spry tonight. He was just two of seven from beyond the arc; otherwise it would have been a ridiculous night for Ginobili. He's really getting comfortable with the second unit. He does a great job of making sure that the second unit reaches their potential. He's very familiar with his weapons and utilizes them like a veteran quarterback.
- Kawhi Leonard filled up the stat sheet with 17 points, seven rebounds, four assists, two steals and two blocks. He followed up his fantastic game against Lebron James with a great performance against a bunch of nobodies with a terrible record. Kawhi is just like that. He's just happy to play basketball and puts forth the effort regardless of the competition.
- Danny Green didn't miss a shot, which means he didn't take enough shots. When Danny is hot, the Spurs need to get him the ball. Danny "Big" Green made all four of his shots tonight, which were all threes. He finished with 12 points, six rebounds, four assists and two blocks. Four shots just isn't enough for a hot Danny Green. The Spurs have to figure out how to get him open when he's shooting so well.
- Tiago Splitter played a solid game. I thought he did very well against Miami and he was active again tonight. Tiago scored 14 efficient points while taking just nine shots and grabbed six rebounds. Pop decided to start Tiago tonight, which I find perplexing. I really think Diaw should be the starter and can't understand why Pop is sticking with Tiago.
- Tim Duncan struggled tonight. He made just four of his 13 shots for 11 points. Tim couldn't hit his outside shot and the Magic forced him to take shots from the perimeter. It was an unfavorable circumstance. Tim did help the Spurs with his defense, however, and also snared 10 rebounds for yet another double-double.
- Next up, the Spurs will play the Bulls in Chicago. You know how people like to say, "You hate that guy until he's on your team, and then you'd love him." I'd like to definitively state that Joakim Noah is the most unwatchable player in the NBA, and if he played on the Spurs, I would defame him every time I wrote. He is the most annoying player in the NBA. I hope we embarrass his overachieving team.