Game 31 Vs. Atlanta: Spurs 95, Hawks 81
It's one thing to watch the Spurs and the Eagles simultaneously when the former are Manuless and the latter are shitty, but trying to do so when the Hustlemaker is repeatedly slicing and dicing his way down the lane and the playoff-bound birds are hammering the despicable Mike Vick silly is another feat altogether. AND I was also keeping an eye on the Colts and a couple of other NFL games. Talk about sensory overload. It was worth it though as generally all the games went the way I wanted them to, so you'll forgive me if I don't get too in depth with the Spurs. For goodness sakes, it was only a December game vs. the woeful Hawks. How many people watched it period?
The guys started quite sluggishly on offense, but the D was pretty solid all the way through and the rebounding was also pretty strong, so the Hawks never had a chance to break it open early. I'm not sure if this was the first time they started the Williams Bros. at forward or what, but let's just say that interior defense is not their forte just yet. I mean talk about leaving the rim unprotected. Just about every basket Tony got was a lay-up and I don't know when the last time was that we've seen Manu get to the cup so often. June of 2005?
I suppose in theory it could be a whole new way to play defense against the Spurs. Leave the paint wide open, take all our shooters out of the offense and make the big three do everything. You only give up only two points at a time instead of the occasional three that we're accustomed to and fouling Tim and Tony every once in a while since their free throws are shaky would be a nice wrinkle. And really, let's face it, the more Matt Bonner has the ball looking to launch hook shots from 12 feet, the better it is for our opponent. As long as Pop or Tony aren't smart enough to give it to Manu a bunch, this tactic could totally work against us.
Okay, I'm being silly. Really, if it wasn't for Bonner, Finley, and Vaughn missing a slew of bunnies, we could have easily scored 115 yesterday. The Hawks' defense was putrid. I really have no idea what they were doing out there. Like I said, I wasn't able to scrutinize the game like I usually do, but every time I looked up it was another lay-in from one of our stars and getting only 20 dimes on 37 made baskets is kind of a low number for us. The reason I know for sure that the Hawks D is jacked is because we only attempted nine threes the whole game. When's the last time that happened? Early in the Admiral Era when the starting five was Cummings-Elliott-Robinson-Anderson-Strickland?
That reminds me, I think it's pretty ironic how Elliott always bashes guys who shoot jumpers just inside the three point line during the broadcasts, because that was precisely his M.O. for the first four or five years of his career. He only started to shoot threes well once the league moved the line way in so that the shots he'd always been making all of a sudden counted as three pointers. Then for some reason when the NBA moved the line back again, he was still able to shoot them. See?
The other, um, interesting... thing about the game was that for a five minute stretch there between the 3rd and 4th quarters the Spurs unleashed a lineup of Fab-O, Red Rocket, Bones, Sickness, and the Bean Burrito. A total whitewash, as it were. I believe it's the first time all year this has happened, but I could be mistaken. I know we did it a couple times last season with `Sho and Kiwi. For what it's worth, we outscored the Hawks 11-6 during their time on the floor together, so if the quintet played the whole forty eight minutes, we'd be looking at a 106-58 asswhoopin. Just sayin'. I can just see the signs now...."BEWARE THE PALE!"
To commemorate the occasion of an all white-boy lineup in an NBA game, San Antonio Spurs Brent Barry, Matt Bonner, Manu Ginobili, Fabricio Oberto and Beno Udrih pose after the game, with basketball.
All in all, it was a decent way to close out 2006 and to bid adieu to the much-derided microfiber ball. For the month of December Timmy, Tony and Manu shot 57%, 55% and 52% respectively with it, so our squad has less reason to look forward to the old ball than perhaps any other, but I'm sure there were a couple of folks out there who liked New Coke as well. The masses have spoken and it's back to the leather. And believe me, as someone who lives in the bay area, I'm not about to bash anything made of leather. I hope everyone had a safe and happy New Year's party, especially our fearless leaduh, who I haven't heard from in forever, and I look forward to bitching about the Spurs with all of you in the months to come.
It's still Youtube Monday, so I found this kinda lame Spurs slideshow thingy. I'm a sucker for this stuff. Enjoy.
Your 3 Stars (Honorable mention goes to Bonner for his 11 rebounds [7 offensive])
3. Tony Parker - PtR's Spurs Player of the Month for December (I just decided) gets relegated to 3rd star status after twice choosing to ignore Pop's instructions of calling a time out so that he can score garbage time lay-ups. Pop was PISSED. Very reminiscent of his reaction to T-Rex after that three he hit in Game 1 vs. the Kings last year.
2. Manu Ginobili - 18 points in only 25 minutes of work. Remarkably, he only took one three pointer in the game because the lane was so open. When's the last time that happened? Okay so it was only 25 days ago, at Charlotte, but he was just coming back from the back injury then. What's important is that the Hustlemaker has been going to the hole more and more of late, and judging by Hollinger's PER stats, he's off to a career best start through two months, believe it or not. The dunks still haven't returned, and maybe they never will, but his scoring efficiency is coming dangerously close to "4th quarter Playoff Manu" levels.
1. Tim Duncan - 17 and 11 may not sound like a jaw-dropping statline, but Timmy gets the Man o' the Match nod for sucking it up and playing with the stomach flu. I'll even look the other way at the six ghastly turnovers. I hope he's feeling better for Tuesday.
Record: 23-8 Streak: W-2
Up Next: @ Cleveland Cavaliers
Another must win game here as it's our last chance to beat the Cavs in the '06-07 season (we won't be seeing them in the Finals unless Stern and Bevetta really outdo themselves this May). These guys beat up on us at home in just the 2nd game of the year and it's vitally important that we get revenge since I've decided that the Spurs need to beat everybody at least once because I think it would be cool. We're gonna need Bruce to step up big here cos Bronnie had him for lunch last time but I'm hopeful that his solid outing against Joe Johnson on Sunday will give Bowen some momentum going in.