Well, game 1 of the '06-07 campaign was looking bleak at half with us down 51-45 and not showing much life, but then to paraphrase Martin Landau's character from Entourage, "What if I were to tell you that we'd have a 52-40 second half? Would that be something you'd be interested in?"
Just about everything that we sucked at in the first 24 minutes flipped a u-ey in the second 24.
The Spurs were on the wrong end of the turnover battle nine to four in the first half but finished just minus one, 12 to 11 for the game. They were also down seven rebounds in the first half but finished the game tied with the Mavs at 39.
Couple that with us finishing ahead of Dallas in all three shooting categories and what you have is a "legitamate reason to be excited" opening night 97-91 win at Dallas. Also we got to see a ref hit in the face with the ball and hear Marv Albert refer to Rod Smart of "He Hate Me" fame as Rod Stewart.
Really this is about as good as we could have possibly hoped for. I mean, if you think about it, @ Dallas is the toughest game on the schedule. It can't get any tougher than this until May. Not with a full healthy squad anyway.
The way I see it, none of our big three can really be singled out for this one. While Timmeh played a decent enough second half, he was pretty damn horrid in the first, and he finished with a sub par 13 points on 5 of 13. Tony gutted it out on his sprained ankle, sank some jumpers, thankfully took no 3s, and padded his numbers with some late free throws to finish with 19 to lead the way. Best of all, he didn't run into a horde of Mavericks waiting for him under the basket like some crazy person. Perhaps being physically limited made him a little more cautious and accidentally smarter as an added benefit. Meanwhile "The Hustlemaker" finished with a very spooky statline of 16 points, 4 rebounds, 2 steals, a block, and a team high 5 dimes. It's like he played in a computer simulation or something. Those are pretty much the numbers he'll average in every category right on the nose this year.
So if this game wasn't anything to put on an All-Star Game resume, how'd we win it then? Time for the 3 Stars...
Bruce Bowen - I've dogged Bowen pretty much the whole offseason and suggested that he's close to being done, but he was ironically spectacular offensively, bagging us 13 points on 5 of 6 shooting. While his offensive game wasn't perfect in all aspects (a positively dreadful 1 of 6 from the line) he was at least a dependable bail out option for us on the wings as the Mavs did a pretty good job of cutting off our guards' lay-up lanes. I don't know if the flagrant foul he drew on Josh Howard frustrated The Big Bug at all since he did finish with 20 points but maybe it had a psychological effect on our team defense as a whole. I still say that vs. Dallas the best lineup would be Fin on the floor with Manu, Tony, Tim, and Elson/Butler just so Dirk would have to guard somebody on the other end, but for one night Bruce wasn't an offensive liability.
Beno Udrih - Finally the guy we've waited two years for showed up in a big game. The Bean Burrito finished with 8 points, 4 assists, and most importantly 0 turnovers in 14 minutes. I'd take every night from him right now, no questions asked. Udrih kicked Devin Harris' (or if you prefer Anthony Johnson's) ass in the battle of the backup points and his mistake free play not only helped the Spurs to start their 10-0 comeback run in the 3rd quarter but also kept the opening twelve minutes from being a Mavs blowout. A big reason why we lost to the Mavs in the playoffs last year was the huge drop off we had at the point guard spot when Van Exel came in for Tony. If Beno can actually hold the fort while he's in there this year that'll be huge for us.
Francisco Elson - Where's he been all our lives? Finally we've got an athlete at center for the first time since 2003. He runs the floor like his pants are on fire, jumps like a pogo stick, and most refreshingly, doesn't rub his hands in K-Y Jelly for his pre-game ritual. Not only did he repeatedly make himself open for Manu, but the big guy even looked comfortable guarding Dirk on the wing. I mean he was really holding his own out there. So he's not a great rebounder. Nobody's perfect. If Elson plays like this every night, "small ball" will be dead and buried. Good riddance.
Record: 1-0 Streak: W-1
On Deck: Vs. Cleveland
Our first back-to-back test is upon us. If the game was at Cleveland I wouldn't be thrilled about the Spurs' chances tomorrow, but I think that since it's the home opener and that the fans will be extra pumped because of tonight's win, their energy will help them to carry our tired legs to victory. Maybe Pop was saving Bones for tomorrow's game because for some reason he never took off the warm-ups tonight (Butler or Bonner neither). I expect San Antonio to dig much deeper into their bench tomorrow vs. the Cavs and to win by ten or twelve. Bruce is going to have his hands full with BronBron, so it'd be nice to see Tim dominate Drew Gooden and Sideshow Bob.