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Superior shooting, Manu Ginobili carry Spurs past Hornets

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The Spurs couldn't control the glass like they normally do and fouled way too much but their passing and scoring allowed them to get a valuable win in Charlotte.

Sam Sharpe-USA TODAY Sports

Spurs 98, Hornets 93 - Jan 14, '15

Nothing comes easy for the Spurs this season, not even a game in Charlotte against the Al Jefferson-less Hornets. The Spurs got the double-digit lead but couldn't string together enough stops or sink timely three-pointers to put it out of reach and the Hornets clawed their way back thanks to a spirited defensive performance. Unlike other games, the Spurs closed this one out well. That's been the difference for the Spurs this season, as they have had more close losses than anyone else. Hopefully it will be a turning point in terms of late game execution.

Four Factors (def.)

Spurs Hornets
Shooting (eFG%) 46% 41%
Ball Handling (TO%) 14% 11%
Off Rebounding (OR%) 15% 29%
Shooting FTs (FT Rate) 24% 41%

The Spurs fouled a lot this game. Had the Hornets connected on a few more of the 35 (!) free throws they got, the result might have been different. It was nice to see the other team struggle from the line for once, I have to say. The fantastic rebounding performance the Spurs had against the Wolves didn't carry over, as they got killed on the offensive boards by the springier Hornets. Fortunately, sometimes basketball is simple. The Spurs scored more efficiently and that negated the advantage the Hornets had in the other facets of the game.

Team Stats (Definitions at bottom of post)

Spurs Hornets
Pace (No. of Possessions) 99.6
Points Per Possession (PPP) 0.98 0.93
Points Per Shot (PPS) 1.15 1.08
2-PT FG% 45.3% 39.7%
3-PT FG% 38.1% 30.8%
FT% 80.0% 65.7%
True Shooting % 52.2% 45.9%
Spurs
Hornets
Offensive Rating 96.3 95.5
Defensive Rating 95.5 96.3
Net Rating 0.8 -0.8
Spurs Hornets
Passes / poss. 3.7 2.8
% of FGA uncontested 42.4% 32.6%
Points in the paint 42 46
Second chance points 4 16
Fast break points 4 17
Spurs Hornets
Assists 27 15
Steals 7 4
Turnovers 12 10
Ball Control Index (BCI)
(Assists + Steals) / TO
2.83 1.90
Spurs Hornets
Expected Offensive Rebounds 9.8 12.8
Offensive Rebounds 6 15
Difference -3.8 2.2

It was a defensive battle between a team that plays perfect position defense and a team that has athletes who can fly all over the court and make up for lapses. Neither team broke 100 in offensive rating, which is a rarity, but the advantage the Spurs had on three-pointers was enough to pull ahead.

Spurs Shot Chart

Hornets Shot Chart

The paint was shut off for both teams, with Duncan and Splitter doing the dirty work for the Spurs and Bismack Biyombo blocking everything in sight. The only black mark on the Spurs defense was the constant fouling, although part of that can be chalked up to overzealous officiating.

The Spurs got more uncontested looks because they took more threes but also because they moved the ball better, as their edge in assists shows. Sometimes they overpassed, looking to go from "good to great" even when the advisable thing to do would have been to pull the trigger. But that's the Spurs identity so I'm not complaining.

Considering the Hornets had the advantage on fastbreak points, second chance points and free throws, it's really suprising the Spurs got the win. The way they contested shots was key to the victory.

Players (Definitions at bottom of post, columns sortable)

Spurs

Player
Min
AdjGS
GS/Min
Line
Usage%
Floor%
OffRtg
DefRtg
NetRtg
Manu Ginobili 24 25.9 1.09 27 Pts (10-14 FG, 3-6 3PT, 4-6 FT) 3 Reb (0 Off), 2 Ast, 3 Stl, 4 TO, 3 PF 38% 56% 111.7 91.8 19.9
Danny Green 36 18.0 0.50 18 Pts (6-11 FG, 3-7 3PT, 3-3 FT) 3 Reb (1 Off), 3 Ast, 1 Blk, 1 Stl, 2 TO, 4 PF 18% 54% 97.6 99.7 -2.2
Tim Duncan 31 17.8 0.58 14 Pts (6-13 FG, 2-2 FT) 10 Reb (2 Off), 3 Ast, 3 Blk, 2 Stl, 2 TO, 3 PF 23% 45% 86.2 99.2 -13.0
Matt Bonner 29 13.7 0.46 8 Pts (3-5 FG, 2-3 3PT ) 8 Reb (1 Off), 3 Ast, 4 Blk, 1 TO, 4 PF 9% 55% 98.9 97.5 1.4
Tiago Splitter 17 11.0 0.64 9 Pts (3-4 FG, 3-4 FT) 4 Reb (0 Off), 2 Ast, 1 Blk, 4 PF 15% 82% 116.6 88.4 28.2
Tony Parker 23 7.1 0.30 10 Pts (5-12 FG, 0-1 3PT ) 3 Reb (1 Off), 5 Ast, 2 TO, 2 PF 27% 41% 83.0 100.8 -17.9
Patty Mills 25 3.4 0.13 5 Pts (2-9 FG, 0-1 3PT, 1-1 FT) 5 Reb (1 Off), 3 Ast, 2 PF 17% 34% 101.1 98.4 2.7
Cory Joseph 30 2.9 0.10 4 Pts (1-9 FG, 0-2 3PT, 2-2 FT) 2 Reb (0 Off), 5 Ast, 1 Blk, 1 Stl, 4 PF 15% 35% 93.2 94.8 -1.6
Austin Daye 6 0.6 0.10 2 Pts (1-3 FG, 0-1 3PT ) 2 Reb (0 Off), 1 PF 20% 29% 72.7 82.6 -9.9
Boris Diaw 18 -2.4 -0.13 1 Pts (0-5 FG, 1-2 FT) 2 Reb (0 Off), 1 Ast, 1 Blk, 1 TO 17% 13% 86.6 82.7 4.0

Show Hornets Players

I love it when Manu dominates games with his scoring. Ginobili came in off the bench aggressively trying to get to the bucket and he set the tone for the bench unit. Manu more than doubled the next Spur in game score per minute and led all players. Had he been able to play 30+ minutes, the game might not have been close. Alas, 23 minutes is about right for Ginobili at this stage, specially on the second game of a back-to-back.

On the other end of the spectrum we have Boris Diaw, who posted a negative game score. Bobo just didn't have it on Wednesday and Pop was smart to not play him heavy minutes, choosing to give more playing time to Tiago Splitter, who was phenomenal in his time on the court.

For the Hornets, Biyombo led the way and at one point he looked like Serge Ibaka in the way he intimidated players around the rim. Biyombo bites on even the more subtle of pump fakes but once upon a time so did Serge. He will never be the player Ibaka is but if he can build on performances like the one he had against the Spurs and leave the maddening inconsistency behind, he will have a long career.

Spurs Index: 104.6 (def.)

Factor Value Score
Passing (AST%) 73.0% 35.3
Shooting (eFG%) 46.5% 17.3
Defensive Rebounding (DReb%) 70.6% 18.5
Defense (DefRtg) 95.5 21.0
Opponent % of FGA Uncontested 32.6% 12.5
Total 104.6

Hornets Spurs Index: 89.9 Show Breakdown

That was Spursier than I had anticipated! Passing carries the most weight in the Spurs Index and the Spurs did that well, logging 27 assist to 37 made field goals. That and the amount of contested shots were enough to offset a bad shooting night and a below average defensive rebounding performance.

The Spurs will play the Trail Blazers in San Antonio on Friday. Let's get a streak going!

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Definitions

eFG%: Effective Field Goal percentage. (via) Effective Field Goal Percentage; the formula is (FG + 0.5 * 3P) / FGA. This statistic adjusts for the fact that a 3-point field goal is worth one more point than a 2-point field goal. For example, suppose Player A goes 4 for 10 with 2 threes, while Player B goes 5 for 10 with 0 threes. Each player would have 10 points from field goals, and thus would have the same effective field goal percentage (50%).

AdjGS: a take-off of the Game Score metric (definition here) accepted by a lot of basketball stat nerds. It takes points, assists, rebounds (offensive & defensive), steals, blocks, turnovers and fouls into account to determine an individual's "score" for a given game. The "adjustment" in Adjusted Game Score is simply matching the total game scores to the total points scored in the game, thereby redistributing the game's points scored to those who had the biggest impact on the game itself, instead of just how many balls a player put through a basket.

Usage%: This "estimates the % of team possessions a player consumes while on the floor" (via). The usage of those possessions is determined via a formula using field goal and free throw attempts, offensive rebounds, assists and turnovers. The higher the number, the more prevalent a player is (good or bad) in a team's offensive outcome.

Floor%: Via Basketball-Reference.com: Floor % answers the question, "when Player X uses a possession, what is the probability that his team scores at least 1 point?". The higher the Floor%, the more frequently the team probably scores when the given player is involved.

Offensive Rating (offRtg): Points per 100 possessions.

Defensive Rating (defRtg): Points allowed per 100 possessions.

Spurs Index: The Spurs Index © is a just-for-fun formula that attempts to quantify just how "Spursy" a particular game is, based off averages for the 2013-2014 regular season. A perfectly average game would have a Spurs Index of 100. The formula consists of four factors which the Spurs are known for and lead or nearly lead the league in: Shooting (effective Field Goal %), Passing (Assist percentage), Defensive Rebounding Rate, and Defensive Rating. These metrics are weighted as follows:

Factor Weight Average
Passing (AST%) 30% 62.1%
Shooting (eFG%) 20% 53.7%
Defensive Rebounding (DReb%) 20% 76.4%
Defense (DefRtg) 20% 100.1
Opponent % of FGA Uncontested 10% 40.8%
The values for each metric are determined based on how a particular game's performance compares to the Spurs 2013-2014 regular season average for that metric. For instance, the average effective Field Goal percentage for 2013-2014 was 53.7%. So if the Spurs shot 60% in a given game, the score for eFG% would be calculated by: (0.6 / 0.537) * 20, which would yield a "score" for that factor of 22.3.

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