I just wrote that my favorite part of games is watching the second unit. Well, we've been watching the Big-3 for over a decade, and even so I've rarely been as happy as I was with that incredible fourth quarter. When Ginobili connected with Marco Belinelli on back-to-back possessions to begin the quarter I thought the Spurs were going to win this game. Manu seemed hungry and determined to win this one, and watching Manu up to his old tricks in the fourth was my favorite part of this game.
The first three quarters of this game were close. Kevin Love exploded, finishing with 42 points and 14 rebounds. His three-point shooting was simply killing the Spurs. He went 8-of-9 from behind the arc, and the Spurs couldn't figure out a way to stop him until the fourth quarter.
Kawhi Leonard kept the Spurs in the game during a poor third quarter from the rest of his team. He had a great, complete game; he hit his threes, played good defense, and finished with five assists. During the third he was really special, though. He provided the only scoring for the Spurs for the first half of the quarter, going 5-for-5 from the field and scoring 11 points during that six minutes. For the second game in a row, the first play of the third quarter saw Kawhi come up with a steal and take it the other way for a score. This one ended with a jam, and it was just the beginning of his burst.
Tim returned the favor early in the third quarter with a nifty feed of his own. Great pass, and a nice finish.
Kawhi also had this phenomenal drive in the third to tie it at 66. Whi -Whi was everything we could want him to be until he ran out gas at the midway point of the quarter. That is not a dig at Leonard, just an observation. The young fella was awesome.
Kevin Love scored 19 points in the third quarter, going 5-of-5 from distance, and the T-Wolves combined for a 35 point quarter to take a nine point lead into the final 12 minutes.
Quarter Season Review: GIF edition
Stampler and J.R. Wilco already shared their thoughts on the first quarter of the season. In this one, we'll look at how the Spurs got their 17-4 record, GIF style.
Perhaps sensing that his team needed an offensive spark after only scoring 18 points in the third, Manu Ginobili took the game over. He found Marco on the first two possessions of the fourth and MIT (Manu In Training) knocked down an open three and finished a nice reverse layup. Ginobili, I thought, is not going to lose this game.
On the next Spurs possession Manu worked Alexy Shved on the right side of the floor and drew a foul when Shved bit on a pump fake. On the following possession Ginobili received a pass from Cory Joesph at the top of the arc and proceeded to take it all the way to the hole for a score. Cory Joseph then took advantage of a distracted J.J. Barea and cut to the basket where Manu found him to slice the lead to four. In all, Manu scored or assisted on the 11 points the Spurs scored in the first two and a half minutes of the fourth.
Tony Parker decided to get in on the action, and following a Manu steal, Tony connected on a corner three that was assisted by none other than our beloved Magician. Tony then grabbed a defensive rebound and went the entire length of the court for an and-1 to cut the lead to one. The Spurs are going to win this game, I thought confidently.
After a Kevin Love dunk, Ginobili drove to the hole again, and he got the bucket.
The game went back and forth for a couple of possessions before Tim gave the Spurs a one-point lead they would never relinquish. After Tim blocked Pekovic on the following play, The Manu drove to the basket and scored. Again.
A one-dribble drive from the three point line for a finish on the other side of the rim: it's like the Manu of old. That drive gave the Spurs a 111-108 lead and after another Duncan block on Pek, Tony scored again. That was about the end of this one, and the Spurs closed out the final minute of the game to give the team their 18th win of the season.
- Coming into this game there have been three games this season where Marco didn't make a three-pointer. In each game after not connecting from deep, he didn't miss a single three-point attempt during the following game. After not even attempting one in the blowout versus the Bucks, Marco wasn't able to keep that streak alive tonight, but he did have a good shooting night, going 5-of-9 from the field and 2-of-4 from deep.
- The Spurs finished the night with 32 assists on their 48 buckets. It's awfully tough to beat the Spurs when the ball is moving like that. Even a 40-point game from Love wasn't enough against this team.
- Kevin Love is good. He can shoot from deep, rebound with the best of them, and his outlet passes are some of the best you'll see. But at what point will he be able to win? This is his fifth season, and he has yet to play a post-season game. His Wolves are sixth-best in the wildly-deep West in point-differential at plus-3.6 per game, but the T-Pups sit at 11-12 - which is only good for 11th in the Conference.
- The Spurs continue to struggle getting to the free-throw line. Tonight they took 13 free-throws to the Timberwolves' 26.
- In a game where the Spurs shot 55% and held Minnesota to just 43%, as well as winning the rebound battle by one, those free-throws were what had the Wolves in the game. Love's threes certainly helped, but the Good Guys only made one less three than the T-Pups.
- The big-four combined for 80 points in this game. For the second game in a row the Spurs' best players took care of business. Maybe all the talk about the bench's success provided a little motivation...but probably not.
- Kawhi Leonard stuffed the stat sheet tonight, going 8-of-11 for 19 points, as well as pulling down six boards, dishing for five assists, notching a block, and stealing the ball twice. What a great game from our young stud.
- Tim Duncan was just two assists shy of a triple-double, Manu had 20 points and nine assists, and Baguette Parker scored 29 while giving out six dimes. The OG Big-3 got it done tonight, and that always makes me happy.
This was an entertaining battle, after a couple blowouts, and your Spurs improve to 18-4 as they enter the meat of the season.
For the opponents perspective visit the well-named Canis Hoopus.