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Spurs vs. Bucks: Shutting Down Brandon Jennings

So, Matt Bonner had a nice game. Let's just get that out of the way. He made his threes and did not penetrate as often which cut down his mistakes. He still was at times awful defensively and could not box out a chair if it had wheels, but when he makes his threes it clearly improves the odds for a Spurs' win because it opens the floor for our guards and Tim. I thought about doing another game diary featuring Bonner, but I just could not subject myself to another two hours of film study that focused on him. Instead, I took a look at our defense against Brandon Jennings. Stats and analysis after the jump.

Rookie Brandon Jennings led his team into San Antonio sporting an impressive 8-3 record. In wins thus far, Jennings has shot 50.7% from the field averaging 26.4 ppg. In losses, Jennings has shot 37.8% from the field averaging 19.8 ppg. The thermometer for the Bucks is Jennings, and the Spurs clearly knew this going in. The Spurs game plan centered around stopping Jennings, and they succeeded in holding him to just 12 points while shooting 28.6%. Below, a running diary featuring our defensive schemes against Jennings including my arbitrary point system, for kicks. This will give you an in-depth look at just how the Spurs shut down the Bucks' leading scorer in order to ensure the win.

1st Quarter

11:33 Jennings began the game guarding Tony Parker. Parker came out aggressively as it seemed the Spurs did not want Jennings to get a rest on the defensive end. The Spurs first four possessions featured four drives by Parker. +1

10:07 Parker helps on a drive by Charlie Bell leaving Jennings momentarily open. Jennings receives the pass and puts up a contested three for a miss. +1

9:59 Literally every Spurs' possession thus far has featured Parker attacking Jennings. Parker just ran him over drawing a blocking foul from the officials. +1

9:47 McDyess makes a lazy pass to Parker that gets picked off by Jennings. He kicks it ahead to Ilyasova for the layup. (That guy's name sucks. Every time I typed it, I had to go to their roster to make sure I had the spelling correct.) -1

7:59 Jennings and Ilyasova pick and roll. Jennings moves left as Parker goes under the screen. Jennings pulls up for the contested 18 footer and knocks it down. By going under the screen, Parker is playing Jennings for the drive, but still recovers in time to get his hand in Jennings' face. Good defense, better offense. -.5

7:23 Jennings, Gadzuric pick and roll game. This time Parker moves above the screen forcing Jennings into Duncan, who is waiting for him 5 feet from the basket. Jennings decides he does not want to challenge the big man and pulls up for a very contested jumper that he misses. I like that we are mixing up our pick and roll defensive scheme. It serves to keep the rookie off-balance. +1

6:19 I just realized how small Jennings is. Seriously thin, like Stephen Curry tiny. He needs to hit the weight room in a major way. Someone get that kid some Creatine asap. I think I'll refer to him as Slim. Oh, and Jennings to the bench, 11-11.

2nd Quarter

12:00 Jennings is back. 23-18, Spurs.

11:09 George Hill is in and picking up where Parker left off, relentlessly attacking Jennings off the dribble. +1

10:34 Jennings, Kurt Thomas pick and roll. Hill attempts to go over the screen and gets momentarily taken out by Thomas. (As we all know, Kurt will hit people.) Jennings drives through the middle of the paint and for reasons unknown, attempts to shoot a floater over Bonner. Hill catches up and swats the shot attempt with his freakishly long arms. Unfortunately, the ball bounces directly to Warrick who finishes for an and 1. But still, as far as pestering Jennings goes, +2.

10:08 Jennings, Kurt pick and roll with Hill and Blair defending. Blair attempts to show but fails to cut off Jennings' angle. Jennings blows past him and dishes to Warrick for the easy jump hook. Blair really needs to work on the angles he takes when defending the pick and roll. This one is on him. -1

9:37 Jennings, Kurt pick and roll. This time Jennings does not use the screen and drives into the paint. Hill stays in front of him and forces the miss. +1

9:23 Ha, Bonner is going off right now. I swear though, if the camera did not track the ball and stayed on Bonner, I would guess air ball every time. Not to hate or anything, I would never do that.

8:52 Hill makes a very veteran move drawing the foul on Jennings. He slips the pick and roll and maneuvers to get Jennings on his back. He throws three pump fakes to get Jennings in the air and then jumps into him for the foul. Nice. +1

7:44 Outstanding team defense on Jennings this possession. Jennings uses four separate pick and rolls and gets nothing. The big men are showing well and giving Hill enough time to recover. Well, everyone except Blair, who was involved in the fourth pick and roll. He takes an awful angle again and Jennings blows past him. Hill meets him as he shoots to force the miss. +1 overall.

5:21 George Hill face guards Jennings to prevent him from receiving a pass. Nice D, George. +1

4:36 Hill picks up Jennings full court and forces him to give up the rock. Hill continues to face guard Jennings and deflects the ball off of Jennings, out of bounds. The officials apparently all blinked at the same time and called a jump ball. Hill wins the jump. +1

3:31 Jennings, Gadzuric pick and roll with Hill and Tim defending. Hill gets picked off and Tim plays safety standing 5 feet away from the action. With room to maneuver, Jennings crosses Tim and goes in for a nifty reverse. Up until this point, our bigs have been showing on the pick and roll to give Hill time to recover. No show equals a bucket for Jennings. -1 Ridnour replaces Jennings. 49-44, Spurs.

3rd Quarter, 50-49, the Bucks came back to take the lead.

11:52 Parker is guarding Jennings who has the ball as Charlie Bell attempts to curl around him. Bogans intercepts the hand off and takes off the other way. That Bogans was a great find. Would we be 6-6 without him? I think we'd have a few more losses. +1

10:39 Bogans gets another steal and passes it ahead to RJ. RJ takes the ball right past Jennings for the layup. RJ on the break is deadly. He's just too athletic and strong for anyone to stop once he gets going full speed. 57-50

9:13 Jennings pick and roll with Parker and Duncan defending. This time Tim shows and Parker is able to recover. Jennings drives anyway but misses the contested floater. +1

7:29 Bogans is now guarding Jennings and doing a great job of pestering him. I haven't written anything for the past two minutes because Jennings cannot even get a shot off. On the other end, Bogans takes Slim to the block and has his way with him. +1

7:21 Jennings and Gadzuric pick and roll with Parker and Tim defending at the top of the key. Tim shows early causing Jennings to get held up. Parker comes from behind and gets the steal and shows Slim who the fastest player on the court is. +2 Jennings is replaced by Ridnour during the next possession. 63-59, Spurs.

2:42 The Spurs' offense begins to find a groove and they build a lead of 10 points, 75-65.

2:01 Jennings is back in and immediately goes to a pick and roll with Hill and Bonner defending. Bonner inexplicably shows on the same side of the pick as Hill. This opens the lane for Jennings and he takes advantage with penetration. Hill, with those freakishly long arms, manages to get back in the play and alters Jennings' shot for a miss. Jennings gets the rebound but is met by three Spurs and they knock him into the ground as the official calls a jump ball. +3, because I like it when they clocked him.

1:16 This made me laugh out loud. Ilyasova posts up Bonner on the block. Bonner uses both forearms to pound at Ilyasova. Ilyasova was having none of it. He knocks Bonner to the ground and scores. Bonner does get him back on the next possession, though. He hits yet another three in his eye.

:50 Jennings drives into the paint and is surrounded by four Spurs. I think it's clear who the focus is on. Jennings kicks it out to Delfino who forgets that he has absolutely no ups and drives in to be blocked by Tim. +1

:43 On the ensuing out of bounds play, the Spurs completely lose track of Jennings who catches the ball wide open three feet from the basket and scores. -1

:06 "Not fair!" says Bonner. "That chair had wheels!" Bonner forgets to block out and Ilyasova grabs the board and scores as he knocks Bonner out of the picture. Alright, Bonner had a great shooting night, but come on, people, he sucks at everything else.

:02 Hill plows over Jennings. +1

4th Quarter: 86-74, Spurs

12:00 Jennings begins the fourth on the bench.

11:20 Did Mason have the swine flu? Whatever he had, he's over it. He's shooting great and even taking the ball to the hole with authority.

10:52 Jennings is back in and you guessed it, pick and roll at the top of the key. Blair initially shows and takes a good angle, but Hill is severely held up by the screen. Blair retreats and Jennings hits a wide open jumper. As I said, Blair needs some major work with his pick and roll defense. -1

10:32 Typical, Finley misses a three and the long rebound goes directly to Bonner. An offensive rebound? Yes. But did he put himself in a good offensive rebounding position? Of course not. This would have been a +.5, if you are curious.

10:13 Jennings gets a step on Hill but hesitates on his drive because he was probably worried about Hill's freakishly long arms. This allows Hill to recover and force a miss. +1

9:38 Jennings is doubled by Hill and Bonner and attempts to split the defenders. There was no hole for him and he loses the ball, but is bailed out by the officials. +1 anyway because that was a great double team.

8:53 Jennings uses a pick and roll to match up with Finley. He decides to pass up the jumper that we all know is there for the taking, and takes it to Finley. Um, Finley outweighs Slim by at least 30 pounds and Jennings misses with contact. Next time, pull up for the J, Slim. +1

8:35 Jennings on the break with only Hill to beat. But Hill, as I've said numerous times, has freakishly long arms and Jennings struggles to even get the ball to the rim. +2 92-78, Spurs, at this point.

8:09 Blair again takes a bad angle on Jennings and he blows by. Mason recovers and his contest is rewarded by a Jennings' miss. +1 Mason, -1 Blair

7:15 Great team defense again. Jennings dribbles the entire possession with no where to go and ends up badly missing a forced floater. +1

6:19 Jennings gets past Parker and has no trouble scoring over Bonner. -1

5:58 Bogans for three and 1. Wow, I am so impressed with this guy.


Well, that's about it. Jennings did nothing the rest of the way and the Spurs cruised for a nice win. So, things we learned. Number 1, I still think Bonner brings one thing to the table, inconsistently. Number 2, the Spurs, for the most part, played excellent pick and roll defense. Number 3, Jennings physically got the hell beat out of him on both ends. It seems our guards took it personally to put the rookie in his place. My arbitrary point system has the Spurs defense at a +20.5 against Jennings. Number 4, Blair needs a lot of work defensively. Number 5, the Spurs are a dangerous animal when they are hitting their threes. Number 6, George Hill has freakishly long arms and knows how to use them. The Spurs have now strung two wins in a row. Hopefully they beat the Warriors and build some momentum for those feisty Rockets.