Hey sheeple, how y'all doin'? Since we all worship at the altar of Manu, I imagine quite well.
I know the fact that I'm posting after a good game from La Enfermadad is as predictable as it tacky, but I swear, my work schedule had a lot to do with it. Also, I'm sure a lot of you expected me to post something about the whole bat thing after the Kings game, and don't get me wrong, it was wicked awesome, but I thought the coverage was so overexposed that I purposefully distanced myself from it.
The guy's one of the 15-best players in the league and a future HOFer, and NOW the PTIs, the Around the Horns, and thousands of sports blogs across the globe will pay attention to him? For going all Neo on a varmint? BAH!
While I thought the incident was cool, everything afterward was the lamest of the lame, so I just observed it from afar, my eyes rolled up all the while.
Anyway, let's talk some hoops after the jump...
Spurs 131, Raptors 124 Record 3-3 3rd in Southwest Division, T-7th in Western Conference
Obviously this was a fun game to watch, and a welcome pick-me-up after probably one of the most miserable weekends of my life (NOYB). I was just shocked - SHOCKED I TELL YOU - that our offense flowed better and had more ball movement and rhythm without Tony. That never happens, and by never I mean most of the 2008 season.
Parker's been a Spur for what, like eight years or something, and still, remarkably, sadly, it seems like there's only two types of passes he can make. He can drive to the bucket and kick it out for a corner three, or he can dump it off for a dunk or lay-up.
He CANNOT run a pick-and-roll, and he CANNOT differentiate between bigs and smalls, hot players and cold players, or guys who are in their sweet spots or not in their sweet spots.
Do I have any proof about any of these allegations? Of course not. I'm just some random dipshit blogger. But I watch the games and while I see Tony improving year after with his shot, his toughness, even some aspects of his leadership, his point guard skills are what they are. The guy's vision is limited, his intincts are average, and his preference is to score first, always.
And really, the less we say about his fast break passing, the better.
Unprovoked and unsolicited Tony Parker bashing aside, what else did we learn from this game besides that Manu Ginobili is still awesome?
Well, we learned that slowly, surely, RJ is starting to get the hang of his role on the team, at least offensively. Do I trust him as a three point shooter yet? No. Do I trust him as a perimeter jump shooter? Hell no. Do I trust him at the free throw line? Fuck and no.
But at least he can throw down some dunks and draw some fouls and he's not a half bad passer, so he's got that going for him.
To me, the real story was how fun the game was to watch as a fan. Admit it, you had a blast. That game was a hoot and a half. As a white guy from Europe, I'm contractually obligated to be a big fan of the Toronto Raptors, the jump-shootingest no-defense-playingest team in the NBA. I even made a dumb bet with my European-hating Indian friend Roh that they would win over 37 games. When you're not really emotionally invested, it's a lot of fun to watch and cheer on teams like the Raptors or the Suns, or even the Warriors back a couple years ago.
It's more fun to watch all offense/no defense teams than the reverse. Anyone who argues otherwise is either a liar or a sadist.
However, as Spurs fans we know better than anyone that this game was fool's gold. It's great to watch and looks neat on the highlights, but teams that play defense the way we're not playing it right now get bounced in the first round. I mean, we're just terrible in our own end right now.
I guess the rebounding was better, but by default it almost had to be. Plus, Toronto is a team of soft weenies, so they don't even count. What was more bothersome was how many open shots we gave up, how we didn't rotate, and how often we left the lane completely vacated. I think I saw a tumbleweed rolling by at one point.
Pop went small the majority of the game to match Toronto, but that's no excuse. The message is not sinking in with RJ that this isn't New Jersey or Milwaukee. At all. Either he thinks that he can get by with a token effort as long as he scores 20 a night for Pop or he flat out isn't capable of playing defense anymore.
Maybe the guy thinks that Pop himself is just giving lip service to defense. After all, if coach willingly puts Bonner and Finley (and Frenchie!) on the floor, how serious could he really be about stopping anybody?
Like I said, very fun to watch, as it always is when Manu completely takes over a game and turns the other nine guys on the floor into puppets, but ultimately, this game might might do us more harm than good.
3 Stars... (with apologies to Rocket and his mad hops)
3. Richard Jefferson - 24-8-7. Yeah, we'd take that every game no questions asked, but I bet he gave up 20 on the other end too.
2. George Hill - My favorite part was when he passed it to Manu.
1. Manu Ginobili - Anytime a guy sets a new single game best in any statistic at 32 years old it's impressive, but four blocks? That's crazy. Now I wanna see five dunks against the Mavs. I'm greedy that way.
Blazers 96, Spurs 84
This might sound weird, but I guarantee you Pop wasn't very upset after this game as there were more positives than negatives.
For one, it was a SEGABABA, so that's always going to be a built in excuse with this old-ass team. For another, we actually played pretty well, on both ends, after a miserable 29-14 opening quarter. The rebounding numbers might look lopsided, but we just plain missed more shots than they did and shot 38%.
16 assists on 30 field goals isn't too shabby, and our offensive rebounding and turnover numbers were pretty respectable as well. The problem was that we just couldn't throw it in the ocean, and having Tony for only 11 minutes didn't help matters.
Besides Parker's injury, three things really did us in:
1. We shot 19% from downtown. We're simply not going to win any SEGABABAs that way. We need to hit threes in these games when we're tired and don't have the juice in the legs to get to the basket.
2. The Blazers shot 27-of-30, 90% from the stripe. Just an unlucky break there.
3. Brandon Roy and Greg Oden went off. Thinking we're going able to stop good athletes because we signed RJ or drafted Blair is a pipe dream. The former can't play defense and the latter is too short. Guys are going to do what they do against us. We're just going to have to do what we do better.
Tony or no Tony, struggling Manu or fully engaged Manu, we're not good enough to come back from 15 down on the road in a SEGABABA to a quality team like Portland.
At least Pop was nice enough to not start Fin anymore, that's a positive step.
3 Stars (this will be hard, I can't think of a single Spur who played well - :: Stampler checks box score :: holy shit)
3. Manu Ginobili - A season high 17 points, and at least he kinda sorta gave a shit.
2. Tim Duncan - He was engaged, if not particularly effective. Later we found out he was doing it on a bum ankle, so kudos.
1. Keith Bogans - A decent enough debut in the starting lineup. A team best +4.
Jazz 113, Spurs 99
Just an abomination of a game. They had 70% of the offensive rebounds that we had in defensive rebounds. That means that for every shot they missed (and at 53% from the floor, there weren't many) the Jazz came away with the second chance opportunity 41% of the time, and almost always cashed it in.
Frankly, I'm puzzled why we didn't collapse our defense in the paint and play better defense and rebound better. They shot seven whole three pointers the whole game and made just one. Clearly the game plan against these guys has to be to make them beat you from outside. I really don't know what Pop was thinking.
Our "effort" to stop Boozer and Williams were abysmal and while Tim and Tony will get most of the blame there, really everyone shares a piece of it. The guys just didn't show up in this one and were not ready for Utah's intensity or competitiveness. A miserable defensive showing, with absolutely no bright spots.
Offensively, the outlook isn't much better. Dice and RJ, the new guys, were terrible. Flat out awful. Bonner and Fin were typically worthless. Tim and Tony weren't ready to compete against guys they should fully respect. Manu looked old, out of rhythm, and slow. Hill sucked and while Blair's statline looked good, he was a sieve on defense.
It's amazing we only lost by 14. It felt like 40. Bad, bad game. The guys don't have any idea what they're doing on defense right now.
3. DeJuan Blair - Better in the second half and especially in garbage time. I'm not sure how much rotation time he'll get as the season goes on if he's gonna be this ineffective defensively. Other teams are definitely targeting him.
2. Tony Parker - Not great, but at least a decent night scoring to keep us at arms length with them. And he made his freebies, so that's something.
1. Roger Mason - Not crappy. He had nothing to do with the loss. That's like gushing praise for this game.
Spurs 113, Kings 94
Not much to say about this one. We beat up a shit team at home and played no defense while doing so. Plus, it was like a month ago, so a recap seems kinda lame at this point.
My favorite thing about the game, and quite possibly my favorite statline of the young season:
Kevin Martin: 29 points, 0 rebounds, 0 assists, -28.
I would totally trade Manu for that guy!
3. Richard Jefferson - Sweet on offense, a willing participant to Martin's Meaningless Stat Extravaganza on defense.
2. Manu Ginobili - He's so dreamy.
1. Tony Parker - I don't think Paul Westphal had any idea who he was.