I've finally figured out what's been wrong with the mojo this season - I haven't attended any games (difficult to do when you live in another state). After the smashing success of tonight's game, and to ensure that the Spurs continue their winning ways, I think it's time that PtR took up a collection to allow me to see more games in person. Massive road trips are warranted. Especially to Vegas. There are no NBA teams in Vegas? My bad; guess I better call the Maloofs. But Cap, weren't SiMA and LatinD also at the game? Yes, but LD's record on his international road trip so far is suspect, and I'm probably much more willing to take random strangers' money than SiMA. ;-)
The beauty of watching basketball live and in person is that you can see everything. Unlike American football, which allows the viewer to see details better on TV, to be truly appreciated, basketball must be seen in person. The tight shots of the TV camera prevent the viewer from seeing the entire court and all of the off-the-ball action. I had forgotten this. I hadn't been to a pro or college basketball game since last season - I will not make that mistake again.
Thanks to one of SiMA's friends, I had a great seat. I was lucky enough to have a couple of Spurs fans around, and the season ticket holders in front of me were great to talk with and were actually knowledgeable about the game and their team. There was the obligatory loudmouth drunk a few seats over, but he annoyed even the diehard Nuggets fans. I did get a lovely "The Spurs suck!" when I made my way over to SiMA's section midway through the 4th quarter (after the arena had emptied out), but that didn't detract from the great night.
Rather than bore everyone with stats and because I don't chart shots (I wouldn't even know how to start that task), I'm bringing you yet another reCap based solely on my personal observations. First, SiMA and I get along fantabulously. It's probably not surprising that two cranky old farts would get along, but it's nice to know that PtRers present their true selves. On that note, I'm ecstatic that I got to meet Dah-veed. Despite what he might imply, LD's english is quite good. I have no idea where I fall on his arbitrary scale, but I hope he had no problems understanding me. The Argentine is a sweetie, possessing both intelligence and passion. Plus, he was rocking an Argentina national team Ginobili jersey.
Now onto the actual game. I spent most of my time observing the defensive rotations, much easier in person than on the laptop. Obviously, my mojo works much better in person than over the interwebs, since I didn't witness some of the issues that have been plaguing our beloved Spurs most of the season.
- The interior defense was good, with Nene the only Nugget able to do consistent damage in the paint. Billups was the only Nuggets guard to have any success driving to the basket and converting or getting fouled.
- Our perimeter rotations were much better than the last time these two teams played, with the wings contesting most of their 3-pt shots and cutting off their passing lanes.
- Although Melo ended up with 19 points, he was mostly a non-factor in the first half, due to RJ's ball denial and physical defense.
- Bonner played more aggressive than usual on the defensive end, not losing his man a lot on screens and cuts through the paint. His rebounding skills inside are still inferior.
- Blair's recovery ability, especially moving from the perimeter to the paint, has increased exponentially from the beginning of the season. He also doesn't lose his man as much on backdoor cuts. And it is true - you can actually hear the thud when DeBeast rebounds the ball.
- Hill did a credible Tony imitation. He was aggressive driving to the hole, and made his living at the line. I thought he initiated the offense well and was surprised to look at the boxscore and see that he had 5 turnovers (it didn't seem like that many at the game). As our South American friend said, once Cubits learns to pass better, he's going to be a star (my paraphrase).
- The 3-pt shooting finally came back to life. The perimeter passing resulted in many open looks, and we hit the the corner pockets.
- Romaju looked comfortable behind the arc, although he needs to stop jacking contested shots early in the shot clock. Both he and Manu did that one too many times for my liking.
- We still missed too many FTs, but the one attempt (and make) by Blair had really nice arc and a soft touch. No more line drives from the big guy.
- The offensive execution, especially in the first half, was excellent. Although we committed too many turnovers, it didn't throw us off rhythm and several came during garbage time in the 4th.
- Blair has really great hands. This can't be repeated often enough. He's grabs passes that others can't get to and scoops balls off the floor. His offense is based almost solely on offensive rebounds and putbacks, not forcing anything within the sets. It's rather impressive for a rookie.
- Pop started the game working the refs and didn't stop the whole first half. His coaching was spot-on tonight, including his timeout calls and effective substitutions.
- Timmeh didn't have to work really hard on either end tonight. He was extremely efficient, yet wasn't required to dominate. The balanced scoring precluded anyone from having to take over the game.
- During halftime, I fully expected and was dreading the TQC. However, after Mace hit his 3-pointer and Denver called a timeout, I felt the Spurs were in complete control and didn't worry about losing. Of course, I didn't say that out loud - I wasn't about to tempt the karma gods.
- When Yawn entered the game, LD, SiMA and I start yelling every time he touched the ball. Of course at that point, there was no one left to hear us, but it was fun to see the big Frenchman play.
- Nuggets' fans hate Manu. I mean they really, really hate him. The booing every time Gino touched the ball was louder than the cheering for anything a Nuggets' player did. It was funny. The only team/player they hate more is the Lakers and Kobe.
Well, if you made it to the end of this wall of text, thanks for reading my ramblings. Boy, does it feel good to go into the All-Star Break on such a high note. Maybe the FSM likes us after all.