[NOTE: This entire post was written by stampler. He emailed it to and asked me to post it because he was having trouble debugging an html error.]
Game 3: Spurs 96, Kings 80
If I've said it once, I've said a thousand times: All the other teams I root for are the penance I pay for being a Spurs fan. The SF Giants you know about. They've flat out sucked for the past three years and the last time they had a halfway respectable roster, they came within six outs of a World Series title (thanks once again Mr. Rodriguez and Mr. Worrell). They rot there, decimated beyond repair, hopelessly adrift and without a plan to dig themselves out of the quicksand, by far the worst team in an all-of-a-sudden respectable (for the NL, anyway) division.
Oh that's right, I forgot. I'm not a Giants fan anymore. And nothing that happened last year was the least bit surprising anyway.
Football on the other hand, has been a bit of a letdown, you might say. Woe, how far my mighty Iggles have fallen. They're terrible. They can't block, nobody on offense can break a tackle outside of Westbrook, McNabb is inaccurate and more brain-locked than ever, the defense produces no pass rush if Trent Cole is doubled, the young smallish line backing corps keep getting sucked on play-actions and manhandled against the run, and the secondary is too old, injured, and decrepit. There are no playmakers anywhere and three straight crappy off-seasons (drafting and free agency) have taken their toll on the once formidable roster. The coach needs to resign and the owner really should fire everyone and start over. There is, to be charitable, maybe 20 guys on the team worth keeping. We had our shot, we blew it, the window is closed, thanks for playing. Here's hoping the Bears trade us Lance Briggs and a 2nd rounder for McNabb next year.
In fact, yesterday was easily among the ten worst NFL Sundays I've ever had. I made a $50 teaser parlay and took the Chargers -1 at Minnesota and the Colts +11 vs. the Patriots. Easy money, I thought, especially when a fluke special teams touchdown gave San Diego a 14-7 lead at half time. The second half though, didn't quite go as I'd envisioned, and rookie sensation Adrian Peterson ran for approximately 8,481,296 yards, give or take a couple, and Norv Turner's Chargers got taken to the wood shed, 35-17.
Okay, so I lost fifty bucks. Sucks for me, but I would've easily paid that to see the Colts smash their helmets into the arrogant, smug smirks of Bill Belichick, Tom Brady, and the rest of scummy, front-running Pats and for my beloved Iggles to shove their collective beaks into T.O.'s colon.
For a while, it was looking good. The Colts harassed Brady into a couple of picks and were up 20-10 with nine minutes to go. Their defense looked amazing and the offense was getting it done with Joseph Addai and not much else. Reggie Wayne dropped one huge pass from Peyton Manning, and Anthony Gonzalez dropped a touchdown earlier in the game where Indy had to settle for a field goal, but neither of those two plays appeared as if they'd come back to haunt the good guys. Unfortunately, the defense ran out of steam, Brady and his receivers eventually figured them out, and two quick 4th quarter touchdowns gave New England the win, 24-20. In the end the Colts offense couldn't put the game away or put together a late drive because Marvin Harrison was out and Gonzalez got injured. They just didn't have all their weapons, plus the starting left tackle was out too. It'd have been a different game if everyone played, I definitely believe that. New England aren't better than these guys, no way.
In a weird way, I think the Patriots are more frightened of the Colts now than ever. They had been blowing everyone out by 40 points and I think they thought they'd do the same thing yesterday, but the Colts smacked them around for the better part of the afternoon and were clearly the more physical, faster team for the majority of the game. The two teams have totally reversed identities and really I think the prospect of playing an AFC Championship game in Foxboro isn't nearly as much of a disadvantage for Indy as one might think. They're the physical, smash-mouth running team now, the Pats are the finesse aerial show. Which team's offense would be more affected by snow and rain? Which team's offense would be bolstered playing on a fast track inside of a dome?
At least this is what I'll keep telling myself.
As depressing as the ending of that game was, the day was still salvageable, if only Philly could somehow show some pride and beat the hated Cowboys. One would think that the fellas would, having been besieged all week by questions about their coach's personal life, would mount a "Let's win it for the gipper!" attitude, similar to how the Patriots really made a point of backing Belichick when they played the Chargers the week after the Spygate story broke.
Well no, not so much. The Eagles laid down like dogs, listless and punchless as any Philly team I can remember since the haunting Ray Rhodes days. Maybe the players want the fat man gone. They've stopped fighting for him, and they stopped fighting for McNabb long ago. I think the front office clearly made the wrong decision at quarterback and the team would have a respectable record, somewhere around 6-3, with Jeff Garcia at the helm. McNabb's strength is the deep ball, but he is appallingly inaccurate with the short stuff and neither has the ability nor the inclination to get outside of the pocket and make plays with his legs anymore. The receivers around him are better at short and intermediate patterns but aren't speedsters and they need a quarterback who can buy them time to get open, as well as a guy who can go to his second, third, and fourth options. McNabb pretty much focuses on just one guy, and it's a reason why he was a lot more successful when he had Owens on the team and he could throw 20 passes his way (completing eight or nine) per game.
The game was over by half time and I was at the bar, serving purple hooters to loud, obnoxious drunk chicks, contemplating where my life had gone so disastrously wrong. It should go without saying that this mental state is perfect for my upcoming gambling excursion in Reno, but I'm getting ahead of myself.
+Hi, hello there. This is the part where I'm guessing 95% of you have scrolled down to read about the Spurs. Sorry for the other stuff, rehashing it on paper is just kind of therapeutic for me.+
Unlike stupid, evil pointless football, I can always count on the Spurs to provide me with the illusion of not being a total loser for 2 ½ hours a day. I must admit, I'm a little embarrassed at how easily the guys fell for what I thought was a rather transparent reverse-psychological ruse in mauling the hapless Queens. What dopes. As if I really thought they had legitimate defensive concerns. Like I actually believe that any squad on the planet could get the best of them. Please. I'm not a total idiot.
Slothyness? Lakeritis? Complacentness? The Spurs don't know the meaning of these words. That could be because I just made them up, (although you can totally picture Frenchie McWonderbutt using any of them in an interview) but it could also be for some other reason that sounds more respectable. Your San Antonio Spurs don't GET bored, ladies and germs, they CREATE boredom in others. Never forget that.
So they ran over the Kings. It got ugly, quickly. Pop had a line at the postgame interview about it not being a fair fight because Sacramento was missing Mike Bibby and Ron Artest. Because, you know, if the Kings had all hands on deck, then they'd be the basketball juggernaut we all foresaw in preseason. I suppose in theory that Artest could make it a more competitive game, if he were in there's always a chance that Manu could suffer a dislocated head or something, but I don't see how Bibby's presence would help matters any, with his defensive incompetence leaving Bruce wide open for jumper after jump-
Anyway, after a perfectly ghastly 17-10 first quarter, orchestrated masterfully by noted tactician Reggie Theus, (should consider himself lucky if he survives the whole year) the Spurs offense woke up in the 2nd quarter amid a flood of threes, uncontested lay-ups, and highlight reel passes. At times, it was mind-bottling to watch, like when Opus' slung that left handed bullet from the right wing past the three point line to Fab-O in the post in what seemed like .004 seconds for a lay-in or Duncan's long bomb to El Gimpo off a made free throw for another bunny.
However, the bigger the lead grew, the more the Spurs tried to compensate to the fans watching a runaway by trying to force highlight plays. When Barry or Ginobili do it, it works because it's their modus operandi. When more A-B-C type players like (I hate to make it sound like I'm picking on him, but I'm picking on him) Bruce or Fab try to make no-look passes, things go awry. Really, late in the 2nd quarter the Spurs had a few possessions there where they kept making fancy cross-court passes from one side to the other and back and forth, only they weren't ever setting up any easy shots, they were just looking stylish, kind of like one of those 5-on-3 power plays in hockey where nobody will shoot the fucking puck.
One gets the feeling ol' grumpy pants had a talk with the boys at half time because they dispensed with the foolishness in the second half and played it straight, lest they be confused by the national media as being "fun-loving" or some other dreaded label. Actually the 50-23 half time score (not a misprint) let Pop use the second half to experiment with all sorts of different line-ups and guys 10-14 on the roster got a long extended look in that 4th quarter. Surely aghast at any comparisons with the Patriots in terms of running up the score, Pop did all he could to let the Kings make the game respectable in the box score. He took Bowen off Kevin Martin, surely the only King who had a prayer of creating his own shot; he switched to a zone defense for the first time all year I think, just to give the guys some practical application of it, and Timmeh played all of 5:31 second half minutes. It's pretty easy to see why the second half score was 57-46 Kings, but don't fool yourself. The Spurs could've won this one something like 114-57 if they were ruthless enough bastards.
Matthew's boyfriend, unstoppable as ever. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)
Besides the zone defense, the game was notable for three things: First and foremost, it seems that one Darius Washington, our freshly scrubbed replacement for the Bean Burrito, (you may be off our roster Beno, but you'll always be... no wait, off our roster pretty much covers it) may have quickly found residence for himself in Udrih's old resting spot, Pop's dog house. Like most of us, I had Barry tabbed there to be the first, but Washington was unceremoniously yanked from the rotation after just two so-so but by no means awful games. Afterward Pop mentioned something about match-ups and the Kings big guards but let's not insult our intelligence here, okay coach? The Kings suck and you knew you were going to be 3-0 seconds after the Grizzlies game ended. I sincerely doubt giving Washington some 2nd quarter run would've changed the outcome any.
"Thanks for being such a crippling disappointment to me, the fans, and to the entire organization." "Thanks for totally screwing me with that Van Exel signing two years ago. How'd that work out for you?" "We were one stupid Manu foul away..." "Why don't you trade him to Minnesota then?" I could keep this up for ever. (D. Clarke Evans/NBAE/Getty Images)
Instead Pop removed Tony seven minutes into the first quarter, much earlier than he usually does, and went with a Barry-Ginobili back court (net result, five points for the team in five minutes - not good). He then let Tony play the entire second and third quarters. Weird. He also messed with Manu's usual rotation and took him out at the beginning of the second quarter and bringing him back in for the final nine minutes instead of letting him play to the nine minute mark of the period, resting him until the five minute mark or so and then bringing him back to play out the half. Give Tony credit, he played nekkid there for five minutes to start the second quarter and he played well, +5 for that stretch, even if it was against the Kings. I can't remember such a scenario ever happening last year.
Secondly, the game marked the Spurs regular season debut for both Ime Udoka and Ian Mahinmi. Well technically, Mahinmi did see the floor at the very end of the Portland game, but for less than 30 seconds and he didn't have a chance to record an official statistic, but whatever. Udoka was quite good, much better than I expected. He knocked down the three pointer, (three of them, actually) as advertised, but unlike Bruce, who he's so often compared to, Udoka isn't limited to just taking them from the corners. Overall he finished 4 of 8 from the field, 3 of 4 downtown and 3 of 3 from the stripe for 14 points, and managed to procure six rebounds, (also unlike Bruce) two assists and a steal in 24 minutes. While the majority of his playing time came when the outcome was decided, I don't think that means a whole lot since as I stated earlier, the outcome was basically determined the day the league announced the schedule and there is not much appreciable difference between the Kings crappy bench players and slightly less crappy starters. Defensively, it was hard to get much of an impression on Udoka because the Spurs were in zone for most of the second half and had collectively dialed it down a few notches on the ol' intensometer.
I couldn't find a picture of Udoka, so here's a nice one of Mrs. Longoria-Parker (or is it Parker-Longoria?) from the season opener. Admittedly, she looks rather good here. Why is that hard for me to admit? I have issues. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)
Mahinmi played only the last five minutes, and to be fair, he was a team worst -7, but he did some nice things out there, also surprising. He sank both of his field goals, a lay-up complete with an and-1 to go along with a nice jump hook, and he had two blocks on the other end, including on that must have surprised the hell out of Orien Greene, (well, as much as anyone playing the game stoned could be surprised) where Ian's ridiculous wingspan allowed him to get a piece of Greene's jumper from the left elbow. See Diagram H-3 for further details:
Figure H-3: I've had this happen to me on the court once or twice. It feels every bit as embarrassing as one might think. I wonder if Orien's "boys" were able to look him in the eye after this. If not, time to get some new boys. (Allisa Hollimon/NBAE/Getty Images)
So there you have it, a rout that we all expected against what must surely be one of the three worst clubs in the conference. So far the boys have held serve and I'm genuinely excited about the Rockets game upcoming as I think it's a chance for us to make a statement early, as much as one can make a statement four games into an 82 game slog. Sorry it took so long for me to post this, but between the bar job and weirdo personal shit going on, (yet another psycho chick is prominently involved) it's been hard to find the time. Ever more unfortunate for you, my dear readers and friends, is that I will be out of touch until at least Friday as I'm going to Reno for a mini-vacation shortly after I finish typing this. We haven't gone anywhere in a while and we both certainly deserve it. I'll watch our next two games over there in some God forsaken smoke-infested sports book, so wish me luck on the tables.
Your 3 Stars
3. Fabricio Oberto - Fab-O had himself a nice night, scooping up 10 rebounds (four offensive) in 26 minutes to go along with eight points and a perfect 2 for 2 at the line. He'll never be a defensive force, but he was certainly solid back there and has made himself into a respectable NBA player when a lot of people had doubts (guilty) that such a thing could ever happen.
2. Ime Udoka - I wonder if he has taken Washington's spot on the always-liquid ten man rotation. The answer might have less to do with him and more to do with Pop's level of satisfaction and trust in Bones in general and the Bones-Ginobili backcourt in particular.
1. Tim Duncan - Any time he goes 9 for 9 at the line, it's a given that he's the star of the night. Really, you saw the box score, who was I supposed to pick? Even if 15 and 10 looks modest for Timmy, it was still good enough to co-lead the team in points and rebounds.
Up Next: @ Houston Rockets
Like I said, the first toughie of the year. At first I thought this would be blowout city for us, and not in the good way, but that was before I realized that it will be a segababa for the Rocks after their Monday night slobber-knocker in Dallas. Just brutal scheduling for them there, but we'll have to do the same thing, play Houston and Dallas on a b2b later on in the month. Once again Yao and T-Mac (named Player of the Week for week 1) are creating the lion's share of the offense as none of last season's incumbents like Rafer Alston, Shane Battier, Bonzi Wells or Luther Head have broken through with a big game and neither have newcomers Mike James and Luis Scola. Scola in particular is really struggling and had a horrible night against the Mavs, chipping in just two points and an unfathomable zero rebounds in 25 minutes of "work." I'm surprised he's a reserve with Chuck Hayes starting, but with the 8.95 PER that Luis has accumulated thus far, perhaps I shouldn't be.
Anyway, I see it as a close game the whole way through with the pissed off Rockets prevailing 93-88. Hopefully I'll be wrong, but that never happens, eh? Oh, and we're gonna steamroll the Heat on Wednesday, Wade or no, 107-88.