Just like that, we're done with the first game. I hope you didn't get high too much in anticipation only to fall hard after seeing the Pacers score at will against the Spurs for three and a half quarters.
I think I can make a good NBA TV analyst. I'll just tell you the usual lines like "it's too early to tell", "the Spurs always start slow" or "they're just playing down to the competition", things like that to downplay what really is just one sample size among a long, grueling grind of games.
So calm down, take a deep breath, jump in and lets go back and see what exactly happened.
(Photos courtesy of the magnificent janieannie. Check out her very own PtR page here.)
A little disclaimer on what you're about to read: I've been working a horrible graveyard shift for the past 2 weeks and only averaging sleep for like 4 hours a day, split up in 2 batches which makes it two and two. When I get to work, I'm already way beyond cranky, and when I get home, I want to sleep but it's too damn bright and sunny outside. Plus, I'm always waking to a chorus of the neighbors'dogs barking just because they're born to bark for no particular reason except maybe to wake those in the midst of siestas.
The good thing is, I get to watch some real live basketball. Still, it's hard living in a far too different timezone. I actually missed the game because I fell asleep when I got home. Thankfully for free league pass, I got to replay the game. However, I missed some game thread magic so forgive me if I won't reference too much using the voice of PtR Nation.
Because ILP is apparently useful and without the usual pressure of checking back and forth between the game and game thread, I was able to take notes. Nothing unlike 'Bron's "mental notes", but just random stuff. I'm tempted to copy-paste the whole thing verbatim but I'll save you the hassle of discovering how I think.
Anyway, I'll try my very best not to make this look like a running diary. Even if it will probably look that way. Don't say I didn't warn you!
Introductions, what-not and a campaign to "Suit Up"
You have to give it to Two-Face. The dude always suited up.
- I'm conflicted about this Suit Up thing. I mean, nobody's actually wearing a suit during games except the coaching staff of both teams, right? If somebody told me to suit up because we're watching a basketball game, I would've given that guy something similar to Manu's kick on Danny Granger's nuts. I tried to scan the crowd for anyone who really took the whole slogan literally, but thankfully I didn't see anybody. One point for these smart Spurs fans.
- I see Tiago has suited up. Dude has no choice, Pop's been hiding him from the enemy like Iraq trying to deny that they own nuclear weapons. He's too good Pop, you can't hide him forever. And Tiago's a bad actor anyway, he's not acting injured enough.
- Best Tiago sales pitch so far delivered by Sean Elliott: "He's every bit of 6'11" as advertised." Nice.
- Opening Night Team intro's up and we get.. a new Eminem song? Hmmmmmm...
- Why is Matt Bonner giving the opening speech? Apparently, it served as a portent of things to come. Anytime a team uses a redhead to usher in a new season, it can only mean they're trying to be funny or worried that something bad's going to happen to somebody, so it might as well be the redhead. Oh hai, life.
Game time, beaches.
"I'm a little teapot, short and stout. Here is my handle, here is my spout..."
- Blair scores first bucket of the season with a nifty post-up spin move, off the glass and-1. Free throw good. His shooting stroke looks much, much better and he ends the night with a very un-Spur-like 5-5 from the free throw line. Thanks, Chip!
- RJ started aggressively, trying to dunk and drawing the foul. Me likey. Everytime he was on the court, he was consistently aggressive and looking to make something positive happen. He also scored on a redonkulous RAGE DUNK off a bad attempt by Timmeh at creative passing. Good thing Blair has good mittens on him.
- Why is Josh McRoberts starting in this league?
- Bill and Sean talked about players, particularly Blair and Hibbert, cutting "fat percentage". It's the in thing now, but somebody please send the memo to Eddy Curry.
- McRoberts with a follow slam! Who is this guy?
- Manu draws a foul from Granger from three-point land and kicks Grunge in the nuts as he was landing. Way to go and channel your inner Bruce Bowen, Gino!
- Transition offense looks really good. Spurs at 26 points already with 5 minutes left.
- Duncan taking and making Js. Age apparently has made his game more Euro.
- I can hear the neighbor's TV. They're watching a program where someone's screaming the song, "Can't Take My Eyes Off You". I love my 'hood.
- Pacers D pretty much sucked in the quarter, as they happily helped add more $$$ to Tony's next contract by defending him like he has madcow disease. Pop and RC are not happy.
- As the refs call some phantom fouls on RJ in an attempt to diminish the young man's already fragile confidence, James Anderson subs in and gets his first taste of real man's basketball. Granger gives him a welcome by scoring in James' face. And then Granger scores over Anderson again. Anderson then commits a turnover. That enough of a welcome for you, son?
- How aggressive were we to start things? Spurs take like 15 free throws in the first.
- The Hick from French Lick in the house. Great nickname. Very PtR-like.
End of 1st: 37-31, Spurs
Pacers with 8 TOs
Visual Description of Offense:
Visual Description of Defense:
Tony: "Hey, Eva and I watched Chocolat last night. Pretty awesome"
Manu: "OH-MAH-GAWD, I SO LOVE that movie."
- Granger continues to dance and lead Anderson to places he's never been in. Poor rook and it's all Rage's fault for getting in foul trouble early.
- George Hill -- Mr. Perfect vs. Indiana (haven't lost to Indy since he joined the Spurs). IUPUI! Everybody drink!!!
- Oh Paul George, you would've made a superb 5th Beatle.
- Anderson hits his first career three off a Bonner penetration. Stampler was right, Matt's been quietly adding more offensive moves to his repertoire.*giggles*
- Wide open, but 2nd three attempt by Anderson is a massive BRICK. They keep on saying that Rome wasn't built in a day, but with those kinds of shots, who knows?
- During some random moment, they show The Beast driving a BUS!!! Hide the children!
- Alonzo Gee has also suited up. Not by choice though. Look on the bright side, kid. At least you haven't been cut. Yet.
- Ever wonder why the score ballooned so big? Take this particularl sequence in the quarter, for example: Posey three!... Manu tre!!!... Anderson redeems himself from that shameful brick with another three!... Granger three!
- Those happened one after the other, I'm not even kidding. And everybody was hitting their jumpers. Manu also hit four threes in the half, which was crazy. It's Christmas in late October, I guess.
- Hibbert heating up throwing and making those ugly shots. It's good to be tall.
- Transition D sucking. Or Collison is just FAST. George picks up foul #3. At this moment,I feel that his perfect record against Indy is slipping away. Oh please, oh please FSM save the perfect record!
- Timmy and RJ have built some sort of nice connection. Tim's hit a cutting Rage for some nice drives that drew a couple of fouls.
- Hibbert continuing his path of destruction, Pacers take lead 62-61 but Manu takes it back with his 4th three!!!
- Dunleavy flops like Stephen Hawking devoid of his trusty wheelchair, and Manu gets called for a phantom foul. Dunleavy misses first free throw. BALL DON'T LIE, fool. And also, you don't mess with a god.
End of 2nd, 66-65 Spurs.
Pacers shooting 57 percent from the field. NOT GOOD.
Visual Description of Offense:
Visual Description of Defense:
"Hey, hey George. You know, I've been practicing this Michael Jackson falling-on-tiptoes dance. Look at me.... Hey!!! I said, LOOK -- AT --- ME!!!"
- Refs continuing to give crap calls against the Spurs. RJ made a clean block that was called a foul, his 4th and still just seconds in the quarter. Bogus balls.
- Tim Duncan post moves are still a thing of beauty. Too bad it only makes brief appearances during the regular season.
- Timmeh starting to take over and showing big Roy how it's done. Beautiful layup in the post, and-1.
- McRoberts alley oop jam over an unsuspecting DeJuan. On the other end, McRoberts blocks Blair. I just learned that McRoberts is a Dookie. Uh-oh.
- Pacers now shooting at 60 percent, Spurs at 56 percent. How are we even leading this game?
- The vaunted Spurs defense is getting destroyed by the Indiana Jump Shooters. Why does it feel like teams always shoot lights out against the Spurs?
- Hibbert buries 2 jumpers in a row and pumps his fist. Way to go, shooter. 82-79, Pacers. Duncan hits back and buries his own J. Call him Dunc Nowitzki, somebody, please.
- Anderson makes an off-balanced shot, something Roger Mason has never done his entire career. Anderson 1 - RoMaJu 0. Also, James can make threes. Anderson 2 - RoMaJu 0.
- Bonner turns his ankle on George's shoe and crumbles to the floor, taking with him the hopes of an entire island of Sandwich Hunters.
- Bobby Simmons sighting! He's playing a stretch 4 and assists Hill for a bucket. Small ball, I missed you so. Not.
- This Dice-Booby-Anderson-Manu-Hill combination seems to be working well. Beautiful layup by Anderson off a nice Dice feed makes it Spurs up 5, 89-85.
- Hill is slowly regaining his foul-baiting self. Got to the line 9 times during the game. That's how you do it - when you're shot's not falling, go inside and get to the line. Damn, I make a good coach.
- Simmons airballs a wide open three off a nice pass by Manu. Waive him already, please? I meant Booby, not Manu.
End of 3rd, 92-89 Spurs.
Visual Description of Offense:
Visual Description of Defense:
Memories of the first James - James "Flight" White
- After sitting out for an extended period, RJ buries a corner three to start the 4th quarter festivities.
- The two teams trade a ton of misses and defensive stops, and then the Spurs offense once again catch fire with this kind of sequence: Hill jumper, Duncan two-for-two on FTs, Duncan layup, Hill jumper, Hibbert two FTs, Hill three-pointer and-1, makes free throw for rare four-point play. Man, somebody wants to keep that record sparkling clean.
- Spurs take a safe 110-95 lead which basically seals the ballgame and dooms Indiana once again to 0-1 purgatory. Granger and Hibbert keep on scoring, but the Pacers couldn't stop the Spurs' offensive onslaught.
- Gary Neal and Garrett Temple enter the game and battle to the death on who gets to avoid the unflattering title of "human victory cigar." Good times.
Final score after 48 minutes of SUNS BASKETBALL: 122-109 -- Ladies and gentlemen, your 2010-2011 San Antonio Spurs!
The Half Glass-Full Approach (because I'm an optimist)
- The offense is already in mid-season form led by our Big Three, whom we expect anyway to lead the scoring charge on most nights.
- The defense is another story. We did improve if you look at it by points allowed per quarter - 31, 34, 24, 20. But hey, still plenty of room to fix some things, including getting a healthy Tiago Splitter in the mix. LA Clippers, prepare to meet your new daddy.
- If RJ produces at this rate - 16 pts on 4-6 FGs, 1-2 3FGs, 7-10 FTs in only 21 minutes - I vow to forget last season's shamockery of a performance.
- Despite sharing foul trouble woes with RJ, Hill wants to show that he's capable of leading the second unit. I'm hoping he could do it consistently.
- James freaking Anderson! Welcome to the NBA, buddy love. Expect to guard more guys like Danny Granger in your career. For the meantime, enjoy your stay.
- Tony Parker (+15) had a better +/- than Manu (+7). Blasphemy! And more $$$ on that next contract. I'm pretty sure Eva's counting.
As usual, your 3 Stars. I think this is pretty much interchangeable, but my Gino-bias has gotten the best of me.
3 - Tony Parker. I thought he played well with whoever he shared floor time with. The 9 assists to go with the 20 points was also nice. He got burned at times by Collison, but that kid is just as fast so I'll call it even.
2 - Tim Duncan. He did a good job defensively in the 3rd, blocking and changing some shots to keep Indiana from getting a big lead. Oh, and the old man showed range, too, and his usual arsenal of McHale-ian post moves. The line: 23 points, 12 boards, 3 assists and 4 blocks.
1 - Manu Ginobili. He's not kidding when he told Pop to take the early part of the season a little more serious than the usual. Bombed threes right out of the gate, and kept putting pressure on the defense with his usual manic drives. Spent some time serving point guard duty as well. Just awesome. 22-3-4, 5-9 from 3-point land.
Honorable mention: RJ and George's efficient games, and Mr. Anderson, who barely managed to survive Pop's wrath in his debut.
Lastly, this new NBA rule about cracking down on showing too much emotion is just way too weird. Feels like robots were playing out there, or the league drugged everyone with too much sedatives. On a positive note, the Kevin Garnett shenanigans will finally disappear. Although, I'll miss Timmeh's bulging eyes-are you calling a foul on me look.
"I'm T-ing you up for being too awesome. Aren't the Spurs supposed to be boring?"
See you Saturday versus the Hornets.