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Morning Rehash: The Kawhi Effect and Old Dudes Roll

Defense was pretty much an afterthought in Friday night's match-up between your San Antonio Spurs and the visiting Houston Rockets. Saturday morning's rehash revisits the numbers within the game and also takes a look at the contributions of 2nd year man, Kawhi Leonard.

The entrance of TImmy D bringeth light
The entrance of TImmy D bringeth light
Stacy Revere

Opening Hash

At 6'7, 225 lbs, a measured wingspan of 7'3", hands the size of dinner plates, and practically zero body fat, Kawhi Leonard is more often than not the most impressive physical specimen on the basketball court. In the NBA, a large percentage of unbelievable young athletes tend to bank on their physical gifts rather than development a vast and/or refined skill set. Leonard, only 21 years of age, is a superior athlete but it's the intangibles between the ears that has made the swingman successful in his transition from college sophomore to NBA starter.

FG 3PT FT Rebounds Misc
G M M A Pct M A Pct M A Pct Off Def Tot Ast TO Stl Blk PF PPG
2012 - Kawhi Leonard 13 27.4 3.8 7.7 49.0 1.0 3.1 32.5 1.5 1.7 90.9 1.1 4.3 5.4 1.3 1.5 2.3 0.3 1.9 10.1

Defensively, Kawhi is absolutely relentless at hunting the ball but he rarely ever takes big gambles. Leonard is active in his communication and his floor awareness (for a 2nd year player) is incredible. Honing in on player's tendencies, spacing, and angles rather than hawking the passing lane, Kawhi is one of the league's best ball thieves in the NBA averaging 2.3 per game (would be 3rd on stat lists but lack of games disqualify him). Leonard had two steals last night against the Rockets, marking his 5th straight game in which he has had at least two steals. Due to injury, Leonard has only played in 13 games this season but he has managed at least 2 steals in 8 of them - including 3-plus steals in 5 games, and 5 steals in 3 games.


*Above statistics do not include 12/28/12 game against Houston Rockets

Without Leonard, the Spurs average 1.2 less steals per game as well as 0.3 less blocks. The abnormality in the points (as well as point differential) can be attributed to the volume of small ball Coach Popovich had to roll in the absence of both Leonard and Stephen Jackson. During that stint, San Antonio lived more on the run-and-gun and out on the perimeter. The drastic rebounding difference is what's curious to me, considering that the defensive presence of Kawhi along with his strong rebounding abilities would be more likely tied to the higher numbers.

It's still young in the season and the statistics will reveal more on the truth of Kawhi's impact on both the Spurs and opponents. Regardless of the final stats, what's not easily seen is the match-up qualities the 6'7" defensive wingman provides for the Spurs. Leonard is often assigned the old Bowen role of taking on the Kevin Durants and the LeBron James of the NBA. Much like Bowen, Leonard is also fully capable of guarding numerous spots on the floor - from the Hardens to the Aldridges. This is an precious asset and as we saw in the Richard Jefferson era, the Spurs just aren't right without a defensive pain in the <censored> out on the floor.

Shoot Around Notes

  • Assistant coach Chip Engelland is working with Nando De Colo on his long range shooting.
  • Some people are just born to coach. Engelland was also coaching the assistant trainers and ball boys on function/purpose of the drill.
  • DeJuan Blair worked with Coach Engelland again but Blair really suffered from every spot on the court.
  • Kawhi Leonard started and ended his workout from midrange.
  • Coach Engelland would sometimes call out a drill audible as Leonard was receiving a pass.
  • Tim Duncan had a very rough time from midrange. Most of his jumpers hit front iron or rimmed out.
  • Assistant coach Chad Forcier worked with Patty Mills on fastbreak drills and other catch-and-shoot drills. Forcier is focusing on Mills tendency to fade when pulling up out of the wing or corner.
  • Despite being right-handed, Tony Parker tends to lead with his left leg when driving, pulling up, planting, etc. Probably explains why half his left shin is covered in bruises.
  • Houston's Greg Smith has unreasonably large hands.
  • Boris Diaw maybe gets half an inch off the floor when shooting three-pointers. I was sitting maybe 10 feet away so I got a good look.
  • Jeremy Lin and James Harden worked out at the same time. Both spent roughly 90% of it shooting three-pointers. Harden stayed out much longer than Lin.
  • Despite how off the wall he can be, Stephen Jackson works extremely hard in his pregame workouts.

Standard Pop Pre-Game Quote

Depends on your perspective, your opinion. If you think that, that's fine. If you don't, that's fine too.

-Coach Pop on whether the depth of his team is better than other NBA teams.

Quick Game Hash

Shoot em' up! Shoot em' up! Pow! Pow! What? You need more? Fine.

The old trio of Tony Parker, Tim Duncan, and Manu Ginobili put on an incredible offensive performance that would be much more impressive if either one of them played a shred of defense for longer than one possession.

The Big Three combined for 84 points on 30-51 FG (58.8%), 5-10 3PT (you figure that math out), 17-18 free throws, 13 assists, 6 steals, and 2 blocks (both Duncan). However, they also combined for 12 of the Spurs 20 turnovers and only 12 rebounds. The rebounding number is misleading considering the 24 Houston turnovers, both teams hovering around 55% from the floor for most of the game, and the 21 missed three-point attempts by the Rockets (5 Spurs had 5 or more rebounds).

Despite two turnovers, Manu Ginobili helped jump-start a 4th quarter charge by scoring 5 points and playing aggressive defense (including a steal) out on the perimeter. Tony Parker would then take over, scoring 6 of the Spurs final 8 points (Duncan scored the other 2 off a Parker assist).

My Game Boss












11 19 9 10 10 5 2

When the pace and fervor of the game fell in line with Houston's preferred method, Tony Parker fired right back. Parker consistently pressed the action inside, scoring 14 points in the paint and getting to the free throw line 10 times. Parker also did a great job kicking out and working with the big guys in the pick-and-roll, dishing 10 assists to complete his 6th double-double of the season.

My Game Runt












2 9 2 3 0 0 1

Hard for me to give the runt award to anyone in this game but Morris struggled mightily on defense and only nailed one of his seven attempts from deep. Morris has never been known as a rebounder but you have to do better than 2 in 30 minutes...

This Thing Was Over When...

...the fourth quarter started. San Antonio had a great start to the 4th quarter, going 2-2 from three, 5-5 overall, 2-2 free throws, all along with 6 Houston turnovers.

Highlight of the Game (For Me)

...Nando De Colo drives baseline, curls ball and kicks out to Ginobili at the top of the arc. Manu drives left into the paint and then whips an around-the-back beauty to Stephen Jackson in the corner for a 3-pointer.

By the Numbers

  • 41 - Season high first quarter points for San Antonio.
  • 69 - Season high first half points for San Antonio.
  • 23 - Manu Ginobili's new season high in points.
  • 2,543 - Career blocks for Tim Duncan, giving him sole possession of 8th all-time.
  • 83.2% - Spurs free throw percentange over the last five games (79.1% for season).
  • 44 - Total turnovers in the game.
  • 27 - Houston assists (Spurs, top assist team in NBA, had 21).

Odds & Ends

  • Omer Asik did a good job bodying up against Tim Duncan. Needs more work with his hands but his leg work is solid.
  • Jeremy Lin hangs in the air like former Rocket, Kevin Martin, but isn't nearly as good at drawing the foul.
  • After a Spurs claimed a loose ball after series of scrums, Popovich was really animated in his approval for his team's hustle (especially Tony Parker).
  • Patty Mills did a great job in limited minutes (11). Mills chased down James Harden to alter what was going to be easy layup, drew a few offensive fouls, and stole 2 balls.
  • "Patty Mills was a big difference maker tonight." - Jeremy Lin on Mills' 11 minutes of floor time.
  • Danny Green keeps with the hot hand, knocking down 5-7 from deep. He is 14-19 (73.7%) in the last three games.

Bird is the Word

@HPbasketball: I'd mock Cole Aldrich trying to defend Duncan but there was literally nothing he could do that is within the confines of physics.

@SJROB300: Tim Duncan secretly wants to be QB for the bears.

@drew_48moh: Watching Gregg Popovich imitate basketball moves on the sideline to demonstrate what he thinks is a travel to officials is amusing.

Going into the Next Game, the Spurs Need to... ready for a desperate team. San Antonio will go on a one-game trip up interstate 35 to take on the Dallas Mavericks, the victims of a 38-point whipping last Sunday. Aside from dishing out some revenge, the Mavericks will also be attempting to break a five game losing streak. In that streak, Dallas has played two sets of back-to-backs in nine days and has lost by 10-or-more points four times (15, 10, 38, 21). The other loss was a 6-point overtime heartbreak in Oklahoma City.

On a related note, it's a nice nostalgic feeling having the 1990's Dallas Mavericks back.

For more rambling and Spurs talk, follow Aaron Preine at @DukeOfBexar on Twitter.