One of the most entertaining aspects of sports is the propensity for knee-jerk reactions. For instance, some fans and media members acted as if the world was coming to an end just nine games into the season after Thursday night's game when the Spurs gave up a 12-point lead in the final period against the Knicks - their biggest fourth-quarter collapse since 2004. This team's gas tank was empty in the waning minutes of that game, Gregg Popovich said. But sometimes all it takes to turn things around is a day off and a little extra rest.
San Antonio looked like its 2011-12 self in a 126-100 dismantling of a discombobulated Nuggets squad on Saturday night. The Spurs shot 53.4 percent from the floor on 33 assists - including 16-for-27 on 3-pointers - and ran away with this one from the opening tip.
"They did a great job finding the open man; hitting somebody with a little bit better shot. The pace was good. The ball movement was great and it allowed us to score," Pop said following the game. "It was great to see Manu (Ginobili) get back into the flow. It was a great response after a tough loss against New York and that's what you like to see."
Speaking of Manu, the Spurs' sixth man was as close to vintage as he's been all season. Ginobili scored 20 points in 23 minutes and hit five 3-pointers on only seven attempts. It's been an interesting start to the season for the San Antonio stalwart, causing many to question whether or not the 35-year-old had enough left in the tank. And you certainly can't criticize those who wonder. Age is an unquestionable factor for a guy who has spent nearly as much time getting knocked to the ground as he has upright. But in the tenth game of the young season, we have finally seen the guy the Spurs have been clamoring for since the end of training camp.
And more than one person noticed the performance. Just before promoting his single featuring Kevin Durant, Stephen Jackson said "Manu got his swag back" in the Spurs' best offensive performance of the season.
"Yeah, I heard him. I'm still trying to figure out what 'swag' means," Manu said. "I'm very happy, of course, and that's what I care about. I feel great that I had a good game. I needed it to build confidence and hopefully I keep building from here on."
There was a different level of energy from the Spurs tonight than what we saw on Thursday. The ball was moving crisply and San Antonio turned up the pressure defensively, forcing 22 turnovers even without Kawhi Leonard on the floor. The lead ballooned to 32 points in the third quarter, and the Nuggets continued to fall short of their high preseason expectations.
"The veteran team was smarter, more acute and tougher," George Karl said. "We tried to respond, but our response never got any confidence in the game."
I don't really know what that last sentence means. Still, Karl is clearly complimenting the Spurs. And they deserve it. Losses like the one against the Knicks on Thursday are deflating for a team that prides itself on closing out games like that. But, the truth is, fans will always worry more than the players and coaches themselves. And the locker room was calm once again, even with the Clippers coming into town for a Monday showdown that will bring some attention along with it. The Clippers dismantled San Antonio last week, which is something this team hasn't forgotten.
"We owe them. It's going to be a big game for us," Jack said. "They were all hyped about the game because we swept them. They still had the dust pan in the arena.
"We have a good game on our hands, but we're up for it."
But this is just business as usual. As Manu Ginobili spotted his toddler twins, Nicola and Dante, weaving through the locker room media scrum, he began to happily call out their names and kneel down to greet them.
Whatever it was he was saying to them in his native Spanish, it might as well have been, "Hey boys, how about that game?
Maybe he is.
- DeJuan Blair got another start tonight and took advantage with 19 points and eight rebounds.
- The Spurs had six players - Ginobili, Blair, Tim Duncan, Tony Parker, Danny Green, Patty Mills - score in double figures.