Game 21: Warriors 96, Spurs 84
Exhibit A for "It's a small, small world after all." Matt Bonner, seeking to make some pocket money during his high school days in Concord, New Hampshire, offers to have his likeness used for a wine company based in Argentina. Noted oenophile Gregg Popovich becomes obsessed with the wine and makes a pilgrimage to their vineyards and while there he discovers a rail-thin, big nosed, left-handed no-name shooting guard named Emanuel Ginóbili. Whoa.
[Editor prologue: Hi, this is Stampler. I'm having my pal Manolis write this post because he's a Warriors fan and he obviously had a much better time at the game than I did. Just thinking about the events of Thursday night, it's all I can do to not upchuck on my laptop. You want my quickie impressions of the game? The defense was okay, but the Spurs' star guards were completely unprepared for the Dub's pressuring defense. Not having Timmy in there completely changed how Nellie went after us and we just couldn't make the proper adjustments. Tony was crap for the third game in a row and it's more than just not having Duncan to occupy defenders in the lane - the wee Frenchman is hurt, plain and simple - and it appears as he'll be on the shelf for the next couple of games. As for Opus, I sincerely hope this is the worst he'll play all year, I don't know if I can stomach a worse effort. He said last Friday, after finishing off the Jazz that he would use the weekend off wisely, and apparently his definition of wisdom is sleeping with Many uh... many, many, many times. Dude had no legs at all. Was he at Mitchell Bros. on Monday night? I'll get to the bottom of this.
Anyway, I fully endorse Stephen Jackson as the front-runner for the Defensive Player of the Year award. I've always believed that to be a top defender, you have to have a little bit of crazy in you, just to put fear in the other guy's head. Rodman had it with the Pistons before he started to focus on being a media slut and a rebounder. Artest had it before he bulked up and tried to be a big scorer. Jack is nuts, and I think he can intimidate people a bit more than Bruce can. You can't be intimidating if you sound like "Cleveland" from Family Guy.
So yeah, Bonner was fantastic, Tony was hurt, and Manu was laid, the end. Manolis will take you the rest of the way and I'll sprinkle in some pictures and captions.]
We sat right behind the media guys so we were provide fresh up-to-the-minute stat sheets of the game whenever we wanted them. You know, just in case we wanted documented confirmation that Tony and Manu were playing like diseased goat ass.
PT. 1: Getting to the game
Because of your neurotic blogger Aaron Stampler and his Spurs obsession I had to wait for him to finish his recap of Friday's Utah Jazz game before we could take off for Oakland. We left scenic Potville (where the only creature that outnumbers the stoners is the skunk) at 6:15 and were on our way when he decided that we desperately needed a camera to take pictures of the luxury box. So we stop off in Foster City to get the camera from moms and head toward the 92 Bridge, by now we've got about forty minutes to get to the game and I know we're going to run into some major East Bay traffic.
Personally, I figure when confronted with a hoard of automobiles there is absolutely nothing you can do but sit back and play some music. Why slam your hands against the steering wheel and change lanes like a maniacal Ron Livingston in Office Space? But Mr. Stampler is of another breed, the back seat devil driver spawn of cantankerous complainophites. Continuously pointing out which lane is moving faster, whining to listen to 680 Sports Talk, demanding me to speed up. Couple this attitude with the chance of missing opening tip of a Spurs game and you can pretty much get a good picture of what form of evil was sitting next to me.
A side view of the box. From left to right, that's Jake, Rene, and Brantley of SpursDynasty. Not pictured are Dan, and Mark, whose company let us use the box for free. I don't know who those Asians on the right are. People at Mark's company, I guess.
Things pretty much reached their peak on Hagenberger, I noticed by then he had the Manu sweats and his eyes were dilated, he was arguing for me to cross over into a nonexistent lane and then while we were looking for the Oracle to jam my foot on the gas and drive through an intersection about a hundred feet away with yellow lights.
We got to the game at 7:35 and ran to the Will Call window to meet Dan from SpursDynasty who although we put out by having him wait for us outside seemed very calm and good natured about the whole thing. We made our way to the Luxury box (courtesy of Mark and the best seats I've ever had) and greeted everyone. By the time we sat down it felt like 7:50 or so but they were just ready to tip off.
The box had a sofa, table, Cherry wood cabinets and countertops, mirrors, another tv in the back, and a fridge filled with water, Heineken, and Sierra Nevada . Sadly, there's no food. Also, each box came with its own private restroom, which comes in handy if you want to do some blow with
PT. 2: The Game
Six Minutes and twenty one seconds! That is what kept the Spurs from coming to Oakland and notching another victory onto their belt, what would have been the thirty fourth in thirty nine tries against the Warriors. Six minutes and twenty one seconds, a combined point difference of thirteen that converted a 25-23 San Antone lead into a 38 to 27 Golden State advantage. From that point on it was pretty much ¡¡¡¡¡ Sayonara San Antonio!!!!
The point of emphasis that you may have guessed I'm getting at began when The Big Ginger took a seat to begin the second quarter and the Warriors who couldn't really do anything right themselves slowly began to go on a defense-fueled run. With Parker sleepwalking through his third straight game without Duncan and Manu unable to recreate the heroics that carried the team to victories over the Mavs and Jazz, the Spurs were left with one option. Unfortunately by the time Pop (who coached this game like he's chugged a bottle of Manu's own Big Daddy Merlot, erratically subbing Manu and Parker in and out, throwing Horry in there just for the hell of it and inexplicably sticking with Elson for far too long when it was quite obvious he had nothing to offer) came to his senses the game was all ready decided.
There was a TV in the corner so we could look up at all the ghastly replays. The reception was perfectly good, it just doesn't show up that way on this picture.
You figure a loss had to come at some time, and playing their first game without Duncan away from the friendly atmosphere of the AT&T center and unable to take their customary pregame team stroll along the Paseo Del Rio a loss was looming. With Duncan this is a definite victory (against this same team the spurs won by a combined 172 points in two games late in the season when the Warriors were hotter than cocoa). The W's have no answer for the Big F, Andres Biedrins is too thin and eager to leave his feat collecting fouls to be much of a factor, D.J. Mbenga is clumsier than a coked up one legged prostitute and Al Harrington gets killed on the boards and posted up to death. It's foolhardy to believe that the matchup problems that Duncan causes can be recreated in his absence. Nobody is feeling the burden of being without the Wingman stronger than Tony Parker. In the last three games without Timmy, Parker is a combined 19 for 50 for 38% and 50 points. But perhaps more glaring is his assist to turnover ratio; he's dished out 16 dimes while tossing out 15 pastries. He's playing like the NBA equivalent of a chicken with its head cut off. Its shear magic, considering the competition, that the Spurs are 2-1 in this stretch.
So be thankful for what you got. The Spurs are not a team that can consistently beat up on the major players without their main man and all this goes to show is that without consistent wizardly nights by Manu Ginobili the Spurs fall from elite status and become just another mediocre playoff team.
See, I don't hate everything French. In fact, my favorite stripper is French. But that's a whole other story...
The top three
#3 Brent Barry - I've gotta pick somebody. He brought his usual hustle to a not very memorable game for Spurs fans.
#2 Jacque Vaughn - The stat line doesn't show it, but he had a terrific game, seven points and two assists, on a night that the usual suspects didn't perform. Monta Ellis couldn't keep with him and he was majorly involved in the Spurs late run.
#1 The Big Ginger - Came out of nowhere with career highs in points (25) and rebounds (17). He was absolutely dominant on the boards and deadly from beyond the arc (3-4). If he goes 4-4 from three point range we may be talking about a Spurs victory today. That shot would have cut the lead down to 6 with about 6 minutes left and then who knows how it turns out when the Warriors are panicking.
Manolis eats practically nothing besides cookies, crackers, doughnuts, ice cream, and bananas. Just thought you all should know that. I think Matt Bonner is his second favorite Spur now.
Part 3: After the game
When the game ended we all met up outside and decided to go to a place called Guadalajara on Fruitvale. It seemed pretty easy to get to, 880N take the Fruitvale exit, between 10th and 11th. It turned out to be much more difficult than expected. Somehow Fruitvale runs parallel to the highway and if you don't take the correct exit there is absolutely no was to get back onto that parallel street without going onto the freeway and crossing back over. I know this from experience because we spent about twenty minutes driving up and around 10th and 11th street with no success until we got so exasperated that we decided to start over again. I don't know what kind of sadistic city planner drew out the design for that city but if I ever meet any one of his lineage I'll slap the fuck out of them.
Now onto Guadalajara, the food took a while to get to us, but when it finally did arrive it immediately made sense why it took so long. It seems Brantley ordered a baby Orca (in fairness to Brantley, I didn't ask or confirm that it was a baby Orca, it may have been a midget Sperm Whale or a giant coy, I did see a Chinese restaurant across the street.) But the highlight dish of the night was a small bowl of Menudo which I think may have been prepared wrong because it contained giant bits of transparent gelatinous pig asshole. It may have been the nastiest thing I've seen ordered since I went to a Japanese restaurant in the Kabuki and ordered a pancake that was sprinkled with gold fish food and I swear to God was moving side to side with the breeze.
Things got interesting as we were leaving when Jake and Brantley got into an ethical argument about whether a vegetarian should be eating fish. Brantley argued that he didn't eat fish every day and that it has been proven that fish can not feel pain. Jake retorted with "well duh, you're not an octopus" and then disagreed (good naturedly) that fish can't feel pain. It was freezing so we all said goodbye and headed home. All in all everyone had a great night out at the game.
Once again thanks to Mark from Aaron and I for the tickets, the absolute best seats we've ever had.
That's me, proudly showing off the Warriors hat I bought for Harold, this guy who filled in at bartender for us so that we could go to this wonderful game.
Up Next: @Los Angeles Lakers
I think both the Golden God and Frenchie McWonderbutt will be missing this one. On the one hand it seems like the perfect opportunity for Chuck to belt out JIH-NOH-BLEEE!!!! at the top of his lungs six or seven times as the Hustlemaker leads the way for an improbable Spurs victory. Unfortunately though, Big Chief Triangle is no dummy and I don't see why he wouldn't just triple team Manu every time down the floor and make somebody else beat them. Manu will definitely have a better night than Tuesday (how can he not?) but this will be a tall order indeed.