Tim Duncan had a fine game but ended up playing 32 minutes in the contest. Tim said that's a little more than the team would have liked to have seen, but that we'd have to see how he feels for the SEGABABA with the Trail Blazers on Monday night. I, for one, would love to see no Spurs players rest and for the team really go after the win in Portland.
The Spurs currently have a winning regular-season record against 28 of the league's teams. The Spurs and Portland are currently knotted at 76 wins apiece so a win on Monday would give SA a winning record versus the entire league and they would become the only team in the four major North American sports that could boast that achievement. That record would speak to the remarkable consistency and winning culture they've enjoyed forever. Plus, it would make my month if the Spurs can pull it off. It's the only game I've had circled since the schedule came out.
Enough about some potential achievement the Spurs can accomplish. Let's look at some of the plays that helped the Spurs achieve their goal of beating the Nuggets last night.
Early on there was this great feed from Tim Duncan to the just-returned Tiago Splitter. Cory Joseph swings it to Timmy, who sees the mismatch down low with Tiago and Aaron Afflalo, and the big fella makes a nice pass over the top that leads to Splitter pump faking and then scoring off the glass. The passing from the San Antonio bigs is always one of my favorite things to watch in games.
The Tim Duncan outlet pass. It's always a joy to see it unfold successfully. Duncan doesn't even bring the ball down after he secured the board before he's whipping a 55-footer down the court to the streaking Cory Joseph. That's a beautiful pass and a nice reverse from Cory for the score after he showed patience and waited for Ty Lawson to fly by.
Here's a subtle score from the big Brazillian on a nice feed from Whi. Tiago uses a Tim Duncan screen to work his way into the restricted circle where Whi hits him before he pump fakes J.J. Hickson into the air and then easily scores with a little lefty hook. Sparkles looks good so far in his return from his calf injury, but what's better than that is the fact that he hasn't re-aggravated anything?
It's not quite the Spurgasm from the WCF last season, but after a Manu Ginobili and Timmy pick-and-roll, the Nuggets defense gets sucked in and in a similar look to that great play, Timmy kicked it out to the open man in the corner. This time it was CoJo and the Canadian hit the short triple. Another great pass from Duncan.
The Spurs didn't even have to run a hammer set to get Marco Belinelli this open look, as the Nuggets defense helped out. Gino is working the left side of the floor off a Duncan pick and Timofey Mozgov and Lawson are playing a blue defense, where the big forces the ball handler toward the baseline while trying to stay close enough to Duncan in this case to prevent an open midrange jumper. The problem for the Nuggets is that Afflalo has brought weak-side help where none was needed. That left Beli wide open in the right corner and Manu executes one of his cross-court passes to the Italian for the score.
Man, this play is so awesome. Kawhi Leonard, who had an amazine game with 18 points, eight rebounds, four assists, five steals and six blocks, does so much in this one GIF. He bothers Wilson Chandler on the perimeter and blocks his shot at the rim. Mozgov recovers the rebound and goes up for a second-chance score but Whi is there to reject his attempt as well. That leads to a Spurs fast break and Leonard is rewarded for his defensive play and for running the floor as Manu gives him the ball for the flush.
Here Duncan has good position down low but the Nuggets have taken away the passing lane from Whi to Duncan so Matt Bonner works his way to the top of the arc where he can get the ball in to Duncan. Whi swings it, Bonner bounces it and Timmy is way too deep to stop. Pretty passing for the easy score for the Spurs.
Cory Joseph has been doing a great job of attacking this season. As Jesus pointed out, the Canadian is making up for his poor outside shooting by attacking often from the perimeter. He's no Parker, but sometimes, if you squint, it's tough to tell the difference. Here's one of those plays. Cory has the ball on the right wing and attacks Lawson left. It's tough to guard a guy who can take you left off of the dribble and finish left. I don't know how much CoJo has practiced this, but his left-handed ball handling is dangerous with a lane that open. Once Joseph turned the corner there wasn't much Lawson could do but put his hands up and watch the ball drop through the net. It's an embarrassment of riches for the Spurs. Can you imagine #fullsquad?
If you're a regular Pounder you are aware of my affinity for Tim Duncan. The veteran has been brillian this season, per usual. He's the only player in the league averaging 14 points, 10 rebounds and three assists. He's also 2nd in defensive real plus/minus. The man is closer to 39 than 38 and ESPN's attempt to make an advanced plus/minus stat has him as the second best defender in the league while he's on the court. He's also fifth overall in Real Plus/Minus (RPM) and surprisingly he's ninth in ESPN's attempt to estimate wins above replacement (WAR) player. RPM is adjusted for time on the court while WAR is not. Tim's playing just over 30 minutes a game and ESPN has him as the ninth best player in the game right now. Seems about right.
It seems right, but it's still wholly mind blowing that a man who's in his 18th season could still be performing at the level that he is. The years change and Tim just continues to chug along at an unreal level. He's rebounding at an elite level, he's blocking shots like he can still jump more than eight inches and he's still anchoring the Spurs on one end and cleaning up messes on the other.I think a minute of reflection and appreciation is in order for the Big Fundamental.
Here's another block from Tim, this one in transition, I love Tim's reaction, or lack thereof.
That's it for this edition of GIF Breakdown. See you Pounders after the Portland game.