I know this is getting repetitive and might sound arrogant but I'll say it once again: the Spurs are going to beat these type of teams nine times out of ten, even if they don't play particularly well. When they do play well, like tonight, a 30-point rout feels nearly inevitable.
The Spurs execute with machine-like precision and simply have too many weapons at their disposal for any other outcome to be expected when dealing with an obviously inferior team. The bench provides a little chaos to complement Parker and Duncan’s reliability and there's always someone ready to come up big. In fact, it almost seems like teams like the Bobcats virtually need a miracle to get the W.
That’s not to say the Cats are last season-level awful; far from it. They are forming a nice little core with Michael Kidd-Gilchrist and Kemba Walker leading the way. Then there are Gerald Henderson, Jeff Taylor and Bismack Biyombo providing solid secondary pieces. They lack that true franchise player but they're a good young team. When going against the Spurs, however, youthful energy simply isn't enough. Your veterans have to be better than Brendan Haywood, Desagana Diop and Ben Gordon.
When you combine an inexperienced, mistake prone team trying to play zone defense (for some strange reason) with the Spurs' absolutely beautiful ball movement, you are going to get open three pointers galore. And when the Spurs are hitting them like they were today, things will get ugly in a hurry. Danny Green and Manu Ginobili led the way early and seemingly every other player that you can expect to make a shot form deep did, except for Boris Diaw who didn't even attempt one. The Cats scrambled, trying to cover the open man, but the Spurs’ offense is both relentless and merciless. When their opponents think they just have to contest a shot from the wing after a pick and roll, here comes the extra pass to the corner. If they leave their man under the rim to contest that shot, the ball goes from the corner to the painted area for an easy basket. When has the cliché, pick your poison, ever been more appropriate? It must be frustrating playing or rooting against the Spurs when the shots are falling like they did Saturday night.
The Bobcats had a little run of their own, early in the first based on hot outside shooting, that kept the game close in the 1st quarter. But after that the result was pretty much decided. When the Spurs went into the break up 15, I was expecting the Bobcats to take advantage of the Spurs' usually inconsistent effort level when they get big leads and cut into the deficit with energy plays. Instead, the Bobcats seemed to realize that with the Spurs hitting the three at the rate they were, there wasn't much hope and they gave up. That didn't stop the Spurs from keeping their foot on the gas pedal to get up to a 35-point max lead. The entire second half was basically garbage time, and no starters played a single minute in the fourth quarter.
- Tim Duncan (11 points, two boards) had a quiet game. When the team shoots 19-34 from three you don't need Duncan battling in the post. The three blocks were nice though.
- Boris Diaw had probably the most Boris Diaw stat line ever: four points, five boards, four assists and a massive +28. He's also perfected the art of drawing the second defender on penetrations even though everyone knows he'll try to pass.
- The Spurs had six players in double digits and seven with two assists or more. 38 of their 50 field goals where assisted. It's a joy to watch the Spurs' many good passers move the ball and there's no bench in the league that's more fun to watch in garbage time.
- The Spurs have been winning the rebounding battle lately. During the last three games the Spurs have out-rebounded their opponent by an average of 15 boards, according to NBA.com/Stats. Splitter, Bonner, De Colo and Diaw all had five boards or more today and six other guys contributed at least two.
- The Spurs set a franchise record for made three pointers with 19 and had their most prolific scoring night of the year with 132. It’s the first time the Spurs score over 130 points since December 4, 2010 against Minnesota.
- Leonard and Jackson are with the team but there's no need to risk rushing them back. Having them out on the court would be great but Green, Manu, Diaw and the guards are filling in nicely.
3) Manu Ginobili (11 points, four rebounds and seven assists in under 18 minutes)
I'm mostly taking into account the first half because it was garbage time after that. Manu scored all of his points before the break and then started assisting. He's moving more fluidly with every game but is still a little slow on defense. Pop limited his playing time but he was extremely productive in his 18 minutes on the court, accounting for 29 points when factoring in his assists.
2) Tony Parker (22 points on 10-12 shooting, nine assists and zero turnovers in 26 minutes)
And the Tim Duncan award for ridiculous stat line in limited time goes to Tony Parker, who pretty much had a perfect game. His shot was falling, including a corner three, and he simply was too good for an over-matched Bobcats back court. He doesn't get first place because this next guy set the tone with his shooting.
1) Danny Green (23 points on 7-8 from beyond the arc, four rebounds in 24 minutes)
Games like this are what they were thinking when the words on fire were first applied to a sporting performance. Danny went 7-9 from three in his way to a 23 point performance. He didn't get to reach his career high in points (24) and couldn't tie Chuck Person for most made three pointers in franchise history (9) only because Pop pulled him from the game. Not that Danny cares, of course. It’s also good to see Green contributing in the rebounding department after a pretty bad start of the season. His contract is looking more like a steal with every game that passes.
For the opponent's perspective, visit the excellent Rufus On Fire