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Morning Rehash: Up Around The Bend

As the playoffs quickly approach, the question is worth asking: Can anything stop this Spurs team?

Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports

From the letters of Timothy Theodore Duncan:

February 21, 2014 - Phoenix, Arizona

We have traveled so very far on weary limbs, bogged down by the dredges of a long season and bearing the scars of the many battles we've witnessed. The mind shudders to think of how far is left in this journey and whether or not we might even have the requisite spirits required to reach the end of our road. We can scarcely muster a kicking of dust as we travel from place to place, sending out mere sergeants to do battle for broken and rehabilitating captains. Sergeant Mills has done a truly remarkable job to plug holes in this ship, but one can't help but notice the water filling up our vessel. As sharp as my mind is, even in such an advanced age, I can hardly remember the day when our army marched together as a full battalion, without a limp or a wince among the ranks. We are tired. We are beaten. And where once you seemed so close, my prize, you are merely a twinkle on the horizon. ~ Timothy

February 26, 2014 - Detroit, Michigan

I thought this day might never arrive. More than a childish fantasy, I had begun to think this day was some kind of fever dream, brought on by the depression of a long season as the countless injuries piled up. And yet here we are, my darling, dressed in our finest fatigues, a full squadron ready to continue the march. Our spirits are high. It has been nearly two months since I looked around me and recognized each face in our group, every soldier occupying the post he is most qualified for. Though we fought against such an overmatched, undisciplined troop, this was no hollow victory. Ours is a group that needs a jolt of... hope. That's a word that I seemed to have forgotten these last few months. I don't know how many battles I have left and seem to take each one as it comes, trying to find some comfort in the knowledge that it could be my last. But I feel the exuberance of youth putting a fire beneath my chariot once again. We are finally whole, an exhilarating feeling as from some distant memory. That blink on the horizon is coming into view. Until it becomes something to embrace, I will not lessen my commitment. ~ Timothy

March 6, 2014 - San Antonio, Texas

We knew they were coming. Our scouts had been circling this battle for months, a brief chance to encounter our most bitter of foes and squeeze out some semblance of revenge for past horrors. The enemy does not look quite as threatening as it did nearly a year ago, when it tore the very hearts from our chests, but we know all too well that the confidence of former glories can mask a competitive fire that only arises for the worthiest of opponents. Each battle is important, but here we found an opportunity to measure ourselves, both against our own past and our possible future. As we took to the hill to begin the battle, we noticed that the opposing forces had donned new uniforms, and our commanders felt it best that we match them. Though we had to adapt to the added weight and minimal constriction of these fatigues, it did not prove to hold us back. We came out with fire, something one would normally associate with the other side, something we had been longing for just months ago. Every shot counted, every man fulfilled his duty, and the battle ended with the other licking its wounds and seeking refuge in the thickets. The opposing general, Lebron James, scoffed at the idea of adding flair to his uniform, saying it surely affected his ability to lead, but our youngest sergeant, Austin Daye, did not share Mr. James' problems, impressing our troop with his unparalleled accuracy. Like helium breathing new life into a limp, rubber balloon, we feel our strength grow by the day. ~ Timothy

March 14, 2014 - San Antonio, Texas

There is not much to say at this point in our journey. We are simply marching with the confidence that our position is unparalleled, even in such a crowded war. But I thought it best to remind myself that things could have gone another way. Today we faced a team that dressed in the uniforms of a former giant but could only muster the force of an infant. It was downright embarrassing to watch, and for the first time in as long as my aging mind can recall, there was a sense of guilt when it came time to put this animal down. There were days when the very sight of gold and violet brought tremors to my brain, but now it brings only quiet introspection and deep gratitude. I have never known the pains of a life lived looking back, a gift I could never hope to repay to the fates. All I can do is pause, reflect, and continue marching ahead. ~ Timothy

April 2, 2014 - San Antonio, Texas

It would seem that the mud we found ourselves in just months ago has spread throughout this battlefield, as more and more we are encountering troops with recognizable wounds and scars. Just a few nights ago, we fought against a once promising battalion that now finds itself looking for answers and cures. Tonight we faced a team without some of its greatest competitors, and though we showed no mercy in our swift and forceful destruction, we did find ourselves reflecting on our journey. We are merely weeks away from the base of the mountain. My beauty, you are no longer a dot on our map or a whispered tale in the mouths of irrational men. You are close. Each step takes us farther from our agonizing separation. Each day brings us closer to a rapturous reunion. And as we gear up for the final climb, we see no one ahead of us. No longer chasing the trails of other squadrons, there is only you and I. One line where there used to be many. If my devotion were an arrow, it would fly true and straight to your heart. There have been whispers that these are among my final battles, but the truth is I have not given this much thought. What consumes my attention and affection is only your beauty. And I am mere weeks away from embracing you once again. Until then, my prize. ~ Timothy

Be sure to read Fred Silva's recap. (It probably makes a lot more sense.)


"I haven't played that many minutes in forever." - Jeff Ayres (who played fourteen minutes), describing both his season and Wednesday night's game in the most succinct way possible (via @Gatrman96)




















In a game where Jeff Ayres played nearly fifteen minutes, it probably goes without saying that all the cogs in the machine were clicking to perfection. You could hand the game ball to a number of deserving Spurs, with strong consideration demanded by Tim Duncan's quiet brilliance, Tony Parker's continued resurgence, and Boris Diaw's half a dozen pratfalls. But after watching this game, there's no denying that Manu Ginobili's line stands alone, a ruthlessly efficient 19 minutes of gluttonous stat filling, with hustle and style to spare. Manu was everywhere, dishing his trademark impossible passes and contorting to the lane for acrobatic takes. His transformation to wily vet is now complete, as he leaves a trail of drawn charges and nutmegged opponents in his wake. One play in particular highlighted what PtR's Travis Hale has called Manu's "stubbornness." As the second quarter drew to a close, Kawhi Leonard hoisted a prayer three, and while everyone figured time was going to expire, there was Manu, grabbing the rebound and quickly firing a buzzer-beating floater. They weren't playing 21, but from the dejected faces of the Warriors on the court, it sure seemed like Manu knocked them back to zero. His transformation from insane foreigner to wily vet appears to be complete.

(see the play in Chris Itz's GIF Breakdown)




















The Warriors only played nine guys, and only two of them were starters. That's probably enough to tell you how the game went for the Warriors against a scorching Spurs team that has been steamrolling everyone the last two months. When you're already down key guys - in this case, Andre Iguodala, Andrew Bogut, and David Lee - the players who do get to play are pushed into bigger roles than they'd normally be, and the opposing defense gets to load up on those overwhelmed players in painful ways. Steve Blake was the recipient of some extra minutes Wednesday night, but he was practically invisible for most of them. I want to excuse it all by saying most of his minutes came when the game was already solidly a blowout, but you would think that would actually increase his chances of posting a good line. In any case, Blake had an abysmal night, the kind that makes you laugh when you're reminded Kobe Bryant was upset to see him traded.


  • Jermaine O'Neal was gassed. Dude's pretty advanced in age for a NBA player, and he played nearly 40 minutes last night in Dallas. I didn't hear anything about an injury, so I'm assuming his four minutes of playing time against the Spurs was due primarily to exhaustion.
  • People overrate Harrison Barnes' performance in last year's playoffs, but you can't really blame them. Seeing Barnes stuff his stat sheet posting up Tony Parker was hardly memorable, but he certainly showed flashes of promise throughout that exciting series. Unfortunately, this season has been a rough one for him, and he hasn't performed well when given extended opportunities like the one he got Wednesday night.
  • Project Spurs' Quixem Ramirez broke down Tim Duncan's Per 36 numbers during the streak: 18 points, 12.1 rebounds, 4.6 assists, 2.1 blocks, 52.2 FG%, 77.8 FT%. The guy is a robot. Tim Duncan, I mean. Not Quixem. (As far as I know.)
  • Jeff Ayres dunked. And yelled. It was fun. (Vine, via the Editor, himself. J.R. Wilco)
  • I've always heard the Pounding the Rock community described as a family, so I thought I'd share some news with you. This is my last scheduled piece here for a bit, as my wife could literally go into labor any second now. I'm hoping to write some during the playoffs, but if I seem a stranger, just know that I'll be missing doing this as I am elbow deep in Milwaukee Bucks.


  • 20: Re @Spurs, division titles won by the Spurs since they joined the league in the 1976-1977 season. Yep, you guessed it. That's the most in the NBA during that span.
  • 5: Wins needed for the Spurs to clinch homecourt throughout the playoffs.
  • 3: Starters the Warriors were missing. I know you think Austin Daye, Aron Baynes, and Matt Bonner sitting cancels that out, but this was really a very, very unfair fight. Pop said as much after the game.
  • 6th: Where the Spurs' current streak stands among the NBA's greatest regular season streaks.



"There's a place up ahead and I'm goin' / Just as fast as my feet can fly / Come away, come away if you're goin' / Leave the sinkin' ship behind"

- from Creedence Clearwater Revival's "Up Around the Bend"


The Spurs need to... I don't know, not get hurt? I'm at a loss here. They're killing just about every statistical category imaginable right now. Pop might rest everybody tonight against the Thunder, and it wouldn't really matter that much in the grand scheme of things. That's how deep this teams's roll is at the moment. It's downright silly.