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Game Thread # 71 -- vs. New Orleans

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Robert Horry is listed as "day-to-day," but I presume (and hope) the Spurs would be very cautious about bringing him back too early. Of course against the likes of New Orleans they may choose to bring Ely off the inactive list instead of Flight.

A Spurs fan posted some grainy footage of Flight's first dunk as a Spur. It's not embeddable, so you'll have to use the link. You can hear Spurs commentator Sean Elliott saying "you haven't seen anything yet" after the dunk.

Thanks to PtR member adam8065 for pointing out the following photo showing His Flightness in mid-dunkage.


Dunk # 1 (Rocky Widner/NBAE via Getty Images)

Further thanks to PtR members agutierrez and ptruser for bringing to our attention an Express News article about James.

Popovich thought White played "pretty confidently" Monday. He rimmed out a 3-pointer for his first shot but settled down after making an easy layup off a pass from Brent Barry.

That's as close to a "ringing endorsement" as you're going to get from Pop.

The last two days PtR has gotten over 6000 unique visitors. To give you some perspective, PtR got about 5700 visitors for the entire month of December. Obviously the spike wouldn't have occurred without the links from True Hoop (now @ ESPN and the first place NBA fans should go every morning) and Deadspin, but a lot of it has to do with the undeniable fact that James White's appeal stretches to places that Tony Parker can only (poorly) rap about.

My analysis of Flight's first game featured a little hyperbole that I thought necessary given my constant clamoring for his debut. Granted, I am still biased in his favor, but here's a more balanced review.

Negatives:

-He didn't close out well enough on shooters. He always at least got his hand up, but that's not how the Spurs operate. Pop would rather have you run past the guy and get him off the line than allow an open 3 attempt. An easily fixable misstep.

-He helped too early on at least one occasion. I think this is simply a case of trying too hard.

-He dribbled too much on one occasion, leading to a turnover. Nobody's perfect, and in a non-blowout situation the ball would not likely be in his hands with the shot clock running down.

Positives:

-Took a defender to the basket one-on-one on two different occasions, drawing a foul both times (including 1 and-1). I wonder if Spurs' management and fans realize this makes him one of only 3 perimeter players that can take a guy one-one-one off the dribble (Manu and Parker being the others).

-I saw him shooting before the Seattle game. His form is a little jerky, but he gets rid of the ball fairly quickly and gets a good rotation and arc on his shots. I'd guess he'd, right now, shoot around 35-38% from 3 assuming he was selective (think more Bowen than Finley in terms of shot selection).

-Overall very active on defense. I think there can be little doubt he's already a better one-on-one defender than either Finley or Barry (which says little).

-Obviously a phenomenal athlete.

-Wears a headband. This, on the Spurs, qualifies as funk. And they could use a little funk. A lot, actually.

Summary:

I don't know why it's taken the Spurs this long to get him playing time. I think he could have helped this year, and I think he still could if Pop had the balls to first realize how horrible Finley is and then actually play Flight when it mattered. Hopefully James will, at minimum, get the last playoff roster spot over Butler and Ely, neither of which would ever sniff the floor against PHX or DAL.

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I am still waiting to receive the photos from the Sonics game. Trust me when I say the photos are going to be the best part of the recap. I am moving this weekend, so my posting will be sporadic. I am suspending the contest wagering until I get everything updated.

Post away.