I don't know where to start. I don't know where to end. I'm so excited right now, I don't even know where the middle is. My heart is in my throat and my soul is is all aflutter. My stomach is where it is supposed to be, but it almost ended up in the bathroom.
Follow me, if you will, on this Carpet Ride.
So. I'm not sure whether I want to do "stream of consciousness" or "Love it/Loathe it/Lack it". That's kind of like "good/bad/ugly" except I came up with it. I think I'm mostly going with the latter, with some scatter brained notations.
First half Notes:
Reggie Miller is an idiot.
We rebounded almost 25% of our misses in the first half. Impressive, especially considering "we don't have the bigs to match up with the Lakers".
Chuck says "San Antonio is too small to beat the Lakers." Of course, we aren't even the best team in Texas, so how could be expect to beat LA? Also, LA is only out rebounding us by 1, and we're shooting much worse than them because we are missing (contested) layups we usually make.
Second Half Notes:
Blair has really quick hands, and with his wingspan he can do an excellent job poking the ball free. I worry, though, that he might begin relying on reaching instead of moving his feet. When he moves his feet, he's got the quickness to keep up with pretty much any of the other bigs in the league (excepting *maybe* Lamar Odom).
Tony is dominating Fisher.
Duncan just blocked Bynum, straight up. But we aren't big enough to beat LA.
McDyess wins the game for us on a last .2 second tip. BUT WE AREN'T TALL ENOUGH TO BEAT LA!
We played defense for (approximately) a full 48 minutes tonight. The Lakers had (have?) the most efficient offense in the league, a stat they sneakily stole from us. And we held the Lakers to 88 points. That is impressive. Also, I don't know if you know this or not, but defense is in the dictionary under D-E-F-E-N-S-E. I may be wrong, but I doubt it.
We did a decent job keeping them off the offensive glass - in the 4th quarter, the ball bounced their way a little bit more, but the majority of the time it wasn't because we were out of position.
Shooting 3's. We're good at that, mostly.
Gary Neal buzzer beater from Antonio McDyess tip.
Antonio McDyess buzzer beater FTW.
Remember how Manu took that really awesome charge against Denver at the buzzer? Well, Kobe did the same thing tonight, and the refs didn't call it. I hate to be the debbie downer of the PtR universe, but when Laker fans complain (and they will), we're just going to have to grin and bear it. Truthfully, they still should have boxed out on the last play, and the refs are always going to miss some calls in a game, so you can't rely on them, and the Lakers certainly can't blame the refs. At the same time, though, the Spurs only won two statistical categories: 3pt% being the first, and that lead to us winning the second category: the final score.
We were out rebounded (though not by much), and they had more assists (which I doubt any of us would have predicted beforehand). They shot slightly better than us on the whole and had one more steal. We had the same number of turnovers and blocks.
We gave up a lot of shots around the basket, and much of this was because we were fronting Bynum, Gasol, and even Artest. This is also how the Lakers racked up several of their assists. When the opposition's bigs are fluent in ball movement, fronting is not an effective strategy, especially if the weakside help is going to gamble for a steal (which we did every time), instead of just playing solid positional defense.
A bench, with Bonner and Anderson hurt. It's difficult to say this when a bench player won the game for us, and Hill had another decent game, but we are really hurting for depth right now. Plus/minus is not a good stat to use to evaluate a single game, but I like it, and all of their bench was in the positive, but only McDyess was for us. That is an issue. We need those two back and we need Neal at 100%.
If you haven't noticed, we've been compared to the Phoenix Suns several times throughout the year (although recently, not so much). One comparison that has not been made much, though, is how this year;s team relies on our bench, much like the Suns did last year. This is a style change that is very, very important to realize. Last year, we relied on our starters to carry us for the majority of each individual game. By the time the Phoenix series came around, they were worn out going into the fourth quarter.
This year, when we've had to play our starters in the fourth quarter, they've been fresh, with the Spurs having only one loss when leading after three quarters. The result has also been better rested starters in general. When fresh, our starters are at least as good as any other starting five in the league (and better than most), hands down. And our starters are as good as other teams' fatigued starters. But if our starters are fatigued going up against a fresh team, it would eventually lead to blowouts - and not in our favor. If our bench can get healthy, and then keep us in games or better, then we are better than every other team in the league.
Much has been made about the Spurs starters not having missed any time this season - and that is important. But for this team, having a healthy, productive bench is equally important. We are missing that right now, and our starters are carrying us. But in order to win an NBA championship, we are going to have to play a 9 or 10 man rotation that includes Bonner (our best 3 point shooter) and probably Anderson. In order to win a 7 game series against any of the contenders, our bench is going to be our greatest weapon, because none of the other teams have that same quality of depth at every position that the Spurs do.
Oh, and we aren't tall enough to beat LA.
Manu Ginobili gets the honorable mention, even though he bricked every 3 he took after the first quarter, including a potential game winner. Not so clutch, Manu. We've come to expect better from you, especially when you are wide open like that.
3. Tony Parker: Statistically, not impressive, but you made Phil Jackson angry in the third quarter by assaulting the basket from every possible angle. He completely took over the game. AND DOMINATED DEREK FISHER! Were you not entertained?
2. Richard Jefferson: Continued excellence in the fourth quarter. Good defense on Kobe Bryant. Good defense on Ron Artest. Solid hustle every second of every play. Oh, and 50% from downtown and 18 points to boot. Go get'em, Rage.
1. Antonio McDyess: He gets the number one star. Not because he was our only bench player with a positive +/-. And not because his jumper is just plain smooth. He gets the first star because he battled every second he was in the game, for every rebound, contested every shot, and also because he played for the University of Alabama and the last player we had from there brought us a championship. SAM - you deserve a ring, and you're doing your part to make sure you get one. Bravo.