This eleven game win streak has been magical. The Spurs fought for a hard-earned victory over the Utah Jazz Monday night. The Jazz played an extremely physical game, which our Spurs matched beautifully. Both teams played with playoff intensity, but the Spurs emerged victorious thanks to a total team effort.
Two nights ago, our Spurs found a way to beat the Clippers in miraculous fashion, but left wounded. Both Manu and Tiago will miss two weeks of action due to injuries they sustained in that battle. So, coming into tonight's game, I had prepared myself for the inevitable letdown. Utah is not a fun place to play, especially without one of our big men. Utah's strength is their inside play as they boast four quality bigs in Al Jefferson, Paul Millsap, Derrick Favors, and Enes Kanter. My thought was, Tim can only play so many minutes and there's no way Blair and Bonner are going to be able to keep the Spurs in the game.
What I failed to realize was that while Utah's bigs could dominate their one on one match-ups, the Spurs, as a team, would prove too much for them. The Spurs played tenacious team defense the entire game. They were everywhere harassing the ball handlers and making life as uncomfortable as possible for Utah's big men. Specifically, Kawhi Leonard played an outstanding defensive game. He had many defections that turned into points for the Spurs and kept many plays alive on the offensive end.
This game against the Jazz was on the verge of getting out of hand in the second and third quarters, but the Spurs managed to keep it close with timely defensive stops and clutch three point shooting. As much as this is going to sting, I have to give credit to Matt Bonner for keeping the Spurs in the game. Bonner made 5 of his 6 three pointers, all of them proving vital. He finished with 20 big points for the Silver and Black.
"This one of my five threes goes out to my No. 1 fan, Fred Silva."
But it was not, by any means, solely a Matt Bonner show. The entire team played well. Gary Neal hit shots every time the Spurs needed them. Kawhi played great defense. James Anderson came in and hit an important three pointer and also had an impressive driving layup deep in the fourth quarter when each team was doing everything possible to gain the upper-hand.
Danny Green couldn't make a basket, but was his usual productive self with his gnat like ability to hover around the ball and make good things happen. DeJuan battled Utah's bruisers all night and finished with 15 crucial points. Richard Jefferson was missing everything, 0 for 4, until the last two minutes of the game when he made a long two and the dagger three with less than ten seconds remaining that sealed the Spurs' victory.
Again, this was a total team effort and something truly special to witness. It's what makes team sports so intriguing. When everyone puts aside their own egos so that the team can reach its full potential and everyone on that team is just focused on winning games, it's simply incredible to watch unfold. Other teams attempt to buy their championship trophy. They go after the big free agents and think that if they throw enough talent into the pot, the trophy will emerge. When you watch this Spurs team play, you realize there's much more to it than just talent. It has to do with the personalities and culture of the team. You need leaders and followers. You need a solid foundation so that when you're down 10 in Utah without your best player and one of your two big men, your team doesn't panic. Rather than fold when faced with adversity, teams that are built like the Spurs rise to the challenge. It's just so gratifying to watch.
Duncan literally snuffed out any Paul Millsap-led comebacks.
Months ago we were pretty sure that the Spurs were an awful road team. We had statistics and our record to prove that much to us. But the Spurs were growing back then. A young team was taking its losses but learning from each one of them. Now, the Spurs have won 11 in a row, the last 7 of which have been on the road. That young team we were watching months ago is now blossoming. Injuries and the schedule have given their worst to the Spurs, but the Spurs refused to succumb to the excuses that they provided. The Spurs are are giving us nothing short of a fairy tale season to follow.
I like to believe that destiny favors teams that win in the right way. When Dallas played Miami last year, as much as I hate Dallas, I was rooting for them. They had a real team. Miami bought the best two players on Earth. To me, that's cheating. Fate should frown on cheaters. This year, the Spurs are destiny's choice. The Spurs have overcome every challenge set before them. While there is still a long way to go, how could destiny not be on our side? If destiny delivers the Spurs a healthy Manu for the playoffs, you just can't write a better script. At that point, it's out of our hands. I believe that destiny will continue to make this season a special one.
3.) Matt Bonner: 20 points on 5 of 6 three point shooting in 31 minutes.
Without Bonner's three point barrage, I think Pop would have waved the white flag early in the third. Bonner has been playing good basketball for about a month now; I finally have to list him as a "star." (I just hope he does this in the playoffs.)
2.) Tim Duncan: 20 Points, 7 Rebounds, 3 Assists, 1 Steal and 1 Block in 38 Minutes.
Tim looks younger to me. Did he sneak away to Germany when no one was looking? Al Jefferson is one of the best big men in the league and Tim had no problem keeping up with him. Tim greatly negated Jefferson's outstanding game which allowed the Spurs to come away with the victory.
1.) Tony Parker: 23 Points, 11 Assists, 6 Rebounds, and 3 Steals in 38 Minutes.
I don't think I've ever seen Tony play with this much confidence. When he misses, he has a look of disbelief. "How did that not go in? I make everything!" The 23 points are expected at this point, but his improvement this year has been to his all-around game. 11 assists, 6 rebounds, and 3 steals. He's not only scoring; he's doing everything he can on both sides of the ball to help the Spurs win. This 11 game win streak is greatly due to Tony's outstanding play.
Check out what Utah fans are saying at SBNation's Jazz blog, SLC Dunk. Here's your box score and some game highlights.