Game 50 @Brooklyn: Nets 103, Spurs 89 Record: 36-14 1st in Southwest, 2nd in West Streak: L-1
I think the obvious word here is "embarrassing."
Sure, there are others you can pick, like "disappointing," "gutless," or "soft," lord knows they all fit, but I'm sticking with embarrassing.
What was that? I mean, seriously, what was that?
The Brooklyn Nets don't have a very good record, I know they were 21-25 coming into the game, but they're a team of decorated, proud veterans such as Kevin Garnett, Joe Johnson, Paul Pierce and Deron Williams. These guys are warriors who come to play every night and battle.
Then you have the Spurs supposed "Big Four," of Tim Duncan, Tony Parker, Manu Ginobili and Kawhi Leonard, who were about as useful tonight as John, Paul, George and Ringo.
I know just yesterday I wrote a glowing column praising Duncan to the heavens, and that in the last game between these teams I declared Garnett done, but I must admit, I'm now having major second thoughts about that take. After all, it's pretty obvious which future first-ballot Hall-of-Famer player better tonight: KG had eight more points and nine more boards than The Big Snooze Alarm.
Sure, it wasn't completely one-sided. Duncan, the gifted passer that he is, had just as many assists as "The Big Ticket," tonight, and he was just as impactful on the defensive end of the floor, with the same number of blocked shots and steals as Garnett. Duncan was also a bit more careful with the ball, with two fewer turnovers, and both guys had an equal number of free throw attempts, so we can't accuse Timmy of not being physical around the paint. That would be irresponsible.
However, it's undeniable that Garnett dominated the match-up of intangibles. While he was yelling and howling to everyone and anyone, he was showing leadership and inspiring his teammates. Duncan, by comparison, was his usual reserved, robotic self on the court. Quiet as a church mouse, without a hint of expression or emotion. How are the rest of the Spurs supposed to try hard without their captain constantly screaming "Motherblanker" at them?
THAT'S WHAT LEADERS ARE SUPPOSED TO DO, TIM!
Then there's Mr. Hollywood, the glamour-seeking Casanova. Mr. Langoria himself, Tony Parker. Where was he all night?
I hear all this rubbish about how underrated and unappreciated this guy is supposed to be, how he never gets his due despite being the only point guard with three rings, how he's the "head of the snake" for the Spurs and all that. Pardon MY French, but that's a bunch of bull. Head of the toilet snake, is more like it.
First of all, the guy is a chucker. A ball-hog extraordinaire. He took as many shots tonight as Duncan, Ginobili, Leonard and Boris Diaw, COMBINED. Secondly, I think he forgot to wash his hands after his pregame french fries because he wasn't the least bit careful with the ball, with as many turnovers as assists. This isn't soccer, Tony... you can't be kicking it all around the place.
It wasn't the least bit surprising to me that Parker was outplayed --badly-- by Deron Williams, a REAL star point guard. If there's one thing I know about basketball, it's that legends don't prove themselves with Finals MVPs or by making clutch shots against LeBron James in June. No, they do it when it really matters, the way Deron Williams has his whole career.
Don't even get me started on Ginobili.
Just another typical soft Euro, shying away from contact, not wanting to mess up his expensive haircut or get his nails dirty. By now we're all well accustomed to Ginobili not showing up on the road. Those sap fans in San Antonio can't get enough of his shameless flopping and they buy up all of his shirts and jerseys because he speaks Argentine, so he sometimes actually tries hard at home, but those road crowds aren't so welcoming and Ginobili gets intimidated and goes into a shell. So much for that play-making derring-do. I can't recall even one cool pass or herky-jerky drive from Ginobili tonight. It's like he wasn't even in the game.
It's just as well. We all know his pet move is a travel anyway. I suppose we should congratulate him on not being a turnover machine, for once. Bravo, Manu, braaaaaa-vo.
Is it any wonder that Joe Johnson makes three times as much money as Ginobili? At least he knows that the job description of a shooting guard is to SHOOT THE BALL AND SCORE. Johnson had a tidy eight points on 10 shots while chipping in with a couple of boards and an assist. That's why he's an All-Star and Manu is a bench scrub.
Leonard? Well at least he did his job defensively, holding THE TRUTH to 12 points, but honestly I was expecting more offensively from him. He's got to carry these geezers on his back if the Spurs want to make the second round of the playoffs.
Finally, we come to the architect of this operation, the maestro, the grand poobah, Gregg Popovich. Talk about overrated! If he's a great coach than I'm some fat idiot typing away on a keyboard. He let Jason Kidd, a novice coach, get over on him tonight, completely forgetting to bring Duncan, Ginobili and Parker back into the game in the fourth quarter. He just plum forgot, in his old age. It was a close game a couple minutes into the fourth quarter, thanks mainly to the efforts of guys like Cory Joseph and Danny Green, but Pop's "stars" never got a chance to do anything in the fourth quarter and the backups couldn't hold on.
Maybe Pop uncorked a bottle (or two) of his adult grape juice during halftime and had himself a little party. I'm just sayin.'
Maybe Pop should worry less about antagonizing those hard-working sideline reporters with out-of-bounds rudeness and worry more about drawing up a sideline out-of-bounds play.
Maybe it's time for a shake up in San Antone.
Be sure to read Chris Itz's non-sarcastic recap of the Nets game, if you haven't already.
Standard Pop Quote When Playing Without All His Good Players:
"I'm really proud of my guys. I thought they did a great job. After the [double overtime] game last night, then to come in here tonight , I thought the effort was great."
By the Numbers:
17,732: The paid attendance at the Barclay's Center
17,729: People who were cheering, without a hint of irony, the Nets blowing away the midget Spurs C-team.
460: The combined number of starts coming into the game for the Spurs starting lineup.
1,224: Career starts for Duncan, who got a DNP: Old
$19.1 million: The combined 2013-14 salary for the Spurs starting lineup.
$21.5 million: What Joe Johnson is making this year.
29: Free-throw attempts for the Spurs, an impressive total for a team with no stars. All ten guys who suited up attempted at least one.
39:30: About how long this was a game, which is pretty impressive for the Spurs and pretty embarrassing for the Nets. THE SPURS WERE WITHOUT THEIR FOUR BEST PLAYERS AND FIVE OF THEIR TOP SEVEN.
Sequence of the Game:
After some solid ball movement, with the fellas passing it around to both sides of the court a couple times, Belinelli found Joseph wide open in the corner and Cory buried the three to put the Spurs up 18-6 with 6:26 to go in the first. The cameras caught Duncan on the bench, doing a little fist pump. Admit it, you thought to yourself, "Oh my god, can this really happen?" And no, no it couldn't. But it was nice to have that moment.
Tweets of the Night:
What's it like for Pop to coach this group? "I'll tell De Colo, 'You go out there and stop Paul Pierce.' I'll say stupid things like that."— Jeff McDonald (@JMcDonald_SAEN) February 7, 2014
In, say, 2004, that would've been a pretty stupid thing to say. In 2014? Not that farfetched.
Boris Diaw, according to Pop, "has been barfing all day." #TMI— Jeff McDonald (@JMcDonald_SAEN) February 7, 2014
I think Pop secretly loves coaching these games where none of his main guys are playing. It takes him back to his Pomona-Pitzer days and he just gets all giddy, coaching a bunch of Rudys. He was even happy talking with David Aldridge during the game.
Well now you've done it. You've done the impossible and ruined steak.
Tiago Splitter smacked away Garnett’s arm, elbowed him in the neck and scored, drawing the foul. Kevin Garnett is still alive, yes?— Andrew A. McNeill (@drew_48moh) February 7, 2014
Garnett vs. Splitter would be the ultimate "hold me back, guys" fight of all time.
Shannon Brown makes a shot. A quarter of the fan base will now be irate when he gets release next week.— Dan McCarney (@danmccarneysaen) February 7, 2014
I will not be a member of that minority.
Even at an early age, young Gregory was not keen on smiling for the camera.
UPDATED healthy Spurs: 1. Splitter 2. Green 3. Belinelli 4. Mills 5. Joseph 6. Ayres 7. Baynes 8. Brown— Project Spurs (@projectspurs) February 7, 2014
Lakers fans are jealous.
It’s like they removed Darth Vader’s face-plate and tied some straps to it.— Matthew R Tynan (@Matthew_Tynan) February 7, 2014
And here I thought it looked awkward.
Nando is wearing bondage gear, and Pop can't keep a straight face.— Dan McCarney (@danmccarneysaen) February 7, 2014
If Pop could pick which two guys on the roster would have broken noses, he'd probably pick Bonner and De Colo.
Going by Manu's article in La Nacion, where he said that he expects to be back after the All-Star break (thanks to J. Gomez for the translation), and reports from Jeff McDonald of the SAEN, it sure sounds like Ginobili might return before Leonard from their respective injuries or it's going to be very close. Green came back in just three weeks from his broken hand so I guess most of us were expecting something similar from Leonard, which would've put him on track to come back by the Boston game on the 12th, but remember, unlike, Green's injury, Leonard hurt his shooting hand, which makes it more complicated, and apparently it was more a bit worse break as well.
I'm just throwing this out there, but maybe Leonard is just a guy who's a slow healer. He missed 24 games last season dealing with knee tendinitis, which seems like a few too many, and now this. Hopefully he'll be back by the next home game on the 26th.
Your Three Stars:
3. Nando De Colo (2 pts): Filled up the box score, kinda, finished a team-high plus-10 and gutted it through a broken nose. Unlike Matt Bonner, he actually played pretty decently. Bonner is always, always, always crap in games where there are no stars to buy him room.
2. Cory Joseph (6 pts): Had a career-high 18 points and four steals and was able to get to the rim consistently, even if the finishing was wonky at times.
1. Danny Green (31 pts): 17 and 8 in 35 minutes as the starting power forward, just how we drew it up. Honestly I'm amazed Pop played him 35 minutes after 46 the night before.
@Charlotte Bobcats (22-28), Saturday, Feb. 8:
Stop four on the Rodeo Road Trip has the Spurs taking on the Bobnets, who have already exceeded last season's win total and are stubbornly hanging on to the final playoff spot in the East. They've won three of their past four, including a 91-75 drubbing of the Warriors on the road where Golden State only shot 31 percent. New coach Steve Clifford has those dudes playing solid defense --they're fifth in the league in points allowed per game-- despite the fact that they have to start Al Jefferson. Charlotte doesn't have anyone who can shoot it all that well, but the Spurs have their own limitations as you know. Will Parker play? Bonner? De Colo? Oh god it's come to hoping that De Colo plays what are we doing with our lives? By the way, the Bobcats haven't played since Tuesday because of course they haven't.