The Milwaukee Bucks are most likely the best team to choose if you’re playing scrabble with the names of NBA starters, but they might not be the best team to sleepwalk against on an average Sunday night game in January.
(The starting 5 were only a C, F, J, Q, and W away from total alphabet completion, for what it’s worth)
You can't blame the Spurs. The 3rd (or 4th?) most important awards show, the Royal Rumble (and a "sporting event" with even less relevance than WWE) were happening around the same time, and San Antonio had just played a game in which they never trailed and Robert Sacre was the opposition's 2nd leading scorer. Talk about potential for tuning out. We are 7 games from the All-Star Break (whether or not Duncan gets to be a part of #TeamRest or #TeamKerr is TBD) and the prize that the Bucks received for being (inexplicably) worse than the 76ers last year, Jabari Parker, is out for the season.
But Milwaukee isn't to be overlooked, as a 20-2 first quarter run demonstrated. If Tim Duncan hadn't shouldered an All-Star's load, it could've been significantly worse (the Spurs deficit ballooned from 3 to 12 after he checked out in the 1st).
The lethargy continued in the 2nd quarter, as the Spurs played defense as though it were a suggestion; or as if they were Steve Nash/Antawn Jamison on pick-and-roll coverage. Players not named Duncan shot 12 of 42 in the first half, and the Spurs trailed by a dozen at the half.
It wasn't until around the 6 minute mark of the 3rd quarter, on a defensive stand of all things (up to this point, those were more rare than a female Charles Barkley fan in San Antonio), that the Spurs seemed to wake up.
This also signaled the arrival of a second ox to bear the yoke of Spursponsibility, with Kawhi taking a baseline drive to the rim with authority and following that up with an early shot clock, mid-range, stepback jumper, off the dribble (that for the sake of Pop's blood pressure, went in) to bring the Spurs within 1 point of their first lead since 5 minutes into the 1st quarter.
The Spurs would eventually take a small lead and maintain that smallest of cushions throughout the remainder of the game, with Boris Diaw and the rest of the Spurs lineup raising their execution level to what Duncan had been offering.
This was textbook weathering. In the best case, at least one player can play to his full capabilities, and the team can ride them and ride out the momentum of their opponent until something clicks on the other side. It is much more reminiscent of last year's team, with more recent examples showing a team with a propensity for withering (looking at you, Great Wall Builder of Detroit) instead.
An ugly win is ALWAYS better than a well-executed loss (even those dreaded moral victories).
QUOTE OF THE GAME
ODDS AND ENDS
- Boris definitely fouled Giannis, but we aren't complaining. (Though we all kind of secretly wanted to see the dunk).
- Post-injury, Kawhi Leonard is averaging 16.5 points, 10 rebounds, 2.3 assists, and 2 steals.
- Patty Mills only played 6 minutes, but managed to miss open buzzer-beaters to conclude both the 1st and 3rd quarters.
- Cory Joseph didn't light up the boxscore with 4 rebounds and 0 points in 16 minutes, but his defense and hustle coincided with the Spurs getting things together on both ends of the court and he has proved that he is, unequivocally, the most valuable 3rd-string point guard in the NBA.
- Khris Middleton tied his season high for the Bucks on 9/14 and 3/5 shooting.
- OJ Mayo lead the Bucks in ASSISTS!
Duncan. The double-double is impressive enough at his age in a vacuum, but he did it against Zaza Pachulia andErsan Ilyasova, two dudes who could've starred in "Eastern Promises."
(Side note: I would pay ALL THE MONEYS to watch deadpan Tim Duncan from the H-E-B commercials star as an mob-bustin' special agent in Eastern Europe)
I just taste for the first time a smothie..MAN GOD BLESS AMERICA— GiannisAntetokounmpo (@G_ante34) January 20, 2014
Every restaurant in San Antonio for failing to get Giannis to tweet about your food. If a smoothie can cause this emotion, can you imagine the emoticons for a puffy taco and CHEESE ENCHILADAS???
A NUMBERS GAME
- 2: The Spurs current win streak after a 4-game streak met the Chicago Bulls. 150: Tim Duncan only needs only a mere 150 more double-doubles to tie Wilt Chamberlain for the most all time! Tim could easily reach that by the time he retires in 2028.
- 75: The Spurs have won 75% of the 16 games Bonner has started, including a perfect 7-0 with tonight's lineup. #LetBonnerStart
- 4: More home games until the Rodeo Road Trip.
- 5.5: At least 5 international players started this game, and depending on how you classify Matt Bonner, this may've been one of the few times the opposing team started more international players than the Spurs.
AROUND THE INTERNET WATERCOOLER
Obligatory "someone forgot to inform the Spurs this game started at 6" reference. That's an 18-2 run for Milwaukee.— Jeff McDonald (@JMcDonald_SAEN) January 26, 2015
I will not speculate as to why Kawhi Leonard left the court for a short break, but I'm also not willing to rule out a software update.— 48 Minutes of Hell (@48MoH) January 26, 2015
I wonder if Jason Kidd, who graduated High School one year before Tim Duncan, despises seeing him carrying the #Spurs at 38 years young?— Kyle Carpenter (@KyleCarpenter) January 26, 2015
Matt Bonner with the most graceful "wasn't me" pirouette in NBA history. https://t.co/ynuR8rPUdq— Caleb Saenz (@calebjsaenz) January 26, 2015
THIS is the San Antonio Spurs team so many included in their NBA League Pass Top 5.— Kyle Carpenter (@KyleCarpenter) January 26, 2015
ONWARD AND UPWARD
Going forward the Spurs need to take advantage of the extended home stretch before the road trip, with 4 winnable games coming up. Admittedly, the Clippers will be as good a test as ever, and the Raptors have a great record--though not as impressive against the West--but at least 3 out of 4 should be the minimum.