I listened to the game on the radio and the indelible image of the game was Bill Schoening's excitement over DeJuan Blair in the first half. He was screaming into the mic and out of breath. It was great. It was like Bill had his own BLLLLAAAAAIIIIIIRRRRRRRRR!!!1! going. Of course, DeJuan's 9 points and 7 rebounds -- 6 on the offensive end -- and two blocks had a lot to do with it. It also got the crowd really stoked.
The Spurs didn't blow the Sixers out, but the Sixers never really threatened to win it either. It was a strange game in that way. You couldn't just kick back and relax, but you also never got the feeling they could beat us. The Spurs never trailed after the 10:00 mark of the second quarter. The Sixers had closed the lead to two late in the third when the Spurs 8-0 run extended the lead to 10 heading into the fourth. The Sixers never got closer than six in the fourth and the Spurs never led by more than 12. Regardless, the 97-89 victory was the Spurs fifth straight win.
The Spurs rode Blair's board work to a 26-15 rebounding edge and 54-45 lead at the half. The Spurs also out shot the Sixers in the first half 49% to 40% including 6-12 vs 3-9 from 3-point. It was the Spurs 10 turnovers that allowed the Sixers to stay so close.
The second half was more of the same. Good defense, poor defensive rebounding, and turnovers. I'd be curious to see how Pop grades the team for this game. They seemed to do some things really well and other things really poorly. They held the Sixers to 39% shooting for the game, but gave up 13 offensive rebounds. They had 22 assists on 37 field goals but committed 18 turnovers.
Oh yeah, Manu is back. He played the first half, but he wasn't back until the second half. In the first half, Manu went scoreless and looked rusty. In the second half, he made the plays that opened up a tight game. In typical Manu fashion, he made them at both ends of the court. He grabbed a rebound and ran the break with an assist on a Bonner 3-ball. Then he hit his own 3. Those two plays keyed an 8-0 run to end the third. In the 4th, he blocked the Sixers first shot of the quarter, hit Blair for a layup, and took a charge all within the first 3 minutes. I'm guessing Pop is easing him back as he only played just under 17 minutes.
Your 3 stars:
3 - Michael Finley: 11 points, 5 rebounds and a team-high +11.
2 - DeJuan Blair: 11 points, 10 rebounds, 3 blocks, and a team-second + 7. He really energized the team and the crowd in the first half. And, according to Bill Schoening, played some really nice defense on a couple of occasions.
1 - Tim Duncan: 22 points, 6 rebounds, 5 assists, 3 blocks. 8-14 from the field. 6-6 from the line. The only knock on him tonight would be that he somehow only managed 2 defensive rebounds.