For parents, the boogeyman is a mythological conception that is designed to scare children into good behavior. His exact description varies from household to household, but the bottom line is that he's pretty freaking scary and you don't want to mess with him. For kids, the boogeyman hides under the bed or behind the chair, or in the closet, calmly waiting for them to turn their backs or close their eyes.
In the household of the NBA the San Antonio Spurs are the boogeyman somewhere in the room, always there, always scary, usually just out of sight, but always a terror.
When you forget about the boogeyman -- like much of the sporting world during the Golden State Warriors historic 28-game winning streak -- there's the Spurs rattling off seven victories by more than 20 points in their last eight games and sneaking up on the league in the dark.
37 points. 25 points. 22 points. 51 points. 20 points. 25 points. 20 points. And another win, and another one, and another one ...
The list of unfortunate teams in the Spurs' run of terror is growing by the week. Poor Utah played San Antonio on the second night of a back-to-back and the fifth game in seven nights. Their performance -- 40.5 percent shooting, 81 points -- reflects a gassed team nearly as much as it reflects the Spurs.
San Antonio held Utah to 15 points in the first quarter, 21 points in the second quarter and 22 points in the third quarter. They led by 23 points at halftime without even reaching 60 points. The differential ballooned to 40 points after three quarters. Utah, a NBA team that many people expected to be in the playoff race, had just 58 points through three quarters. Gordon Hayward, the team's leading scorer, visited Kawhi Leonard Island last night and returned to Utah with four points on 1-of-5 shooting. The Jazz were outscored by 42 points in Hayward's 22 minutes.
When you're afraid of being grabbed by the boogeyman, you find yourself stuck on the bed, unable to place your foot on the floor. When the Spurs defense is flexing its hideous muscles, there aren't any 3-pointers available. Getting to the rim is difficult. Most shots are contested. Leonard's long arms lurk in every passing window. Then there's Tim Duncan and LaMarcus Aldridge bearing down in the paint, cleaning up the few mistakes from the perimeter. The foundation of the Tim Duncan Era Spurs was built on defense, but the 2015-16 Spurs are on pace to be the best defensive unit in franchise history.
Even when Gregg Popovich inserted his second and third unit in the fourth quarter, Matt Bonner was raining three-pointers and filthy behind-the-back-then-spin-move-followed-by-a-soft-floater moves that decimated an already weary team. The only lucky break for Utah last night was that they didn't face Boban Marjanovic, who is tied for fifth in the league in Player Efficiency Rating behind Stephen Curry, Russell Westbrook, LeBron James and Kawhi Leonard. (Yes, that is an entirely real stat.) Marjanovic was inactive for the game.
Once kids reach a certain age, the mythical boogeyman looses his grip on their psyche. But not San Antonio, who hides in the NBA shadows until the moment is right. After adding LaMarcus Aldridge and David West in the offseason, the Spurs are still sneaking up on its opponents and the public at large.
Unlike the boogeyman, teams can't outgrow the Spurs.
Kawhi Leonard: 22 points on 7-10 shooting, 7 rebounds, 2 assists, 2 steals, 2 3-pointers.
He was struggling to open the game, then he was not. He threw in a couple of dunks, a nifty spin move and his usual assortment of Kawhi goodness. Kawhi is Kawhi at this point.
Honorable mention: Matt Bonner. He scored 10 points on five shots and the best highlight of the game.
Quote(s) of the night
- Manu Ginobili on the Spurs' 13-0 start at home
"I'd retire on the spot."
- Matt Bonner, asked what he'd do if Boban Marjanovic threw him an alley oop
By the numbers
- +13.2: Spurs point differential, which is just higher than the Golden State Warriors.
- +342: Total margin of victory this season.
- +22.2: Spurs point differential in the last nine games. ].
- 1043: wins for Gregg Popovich, which puts him eighth on the all-time wins list. He passed Rick Adelman with the win.
- 21-5: Spurs' second-best start through 26 games in franchise history. San Antonio started the 2010-11 season 23-3.
- 22: consecutive home wins for the Spurs, tying the longest streak in franchise history.
- 13-0: Spurs record at the AT&T Center this year, tying the best start at home in franchise history.
- 17,336: Points in Tony Parker's career. He passed Kevin McHale for 79th on the all-time scoring list.
- 9: wins by more than 20 points, which leads the league. Oklahoma City is second with five 20+ point wins. Charlotte is third with four such games.
- 0: Boban dunks. I'm sad.
- The Spurs are good at basketball. I don't have any more words left.
Hahahah the Spurs have a higher point differential than the Warriors, who began the season 24-0. HAHAHAH THE SPURS ARE - /dies from laughter— Quixem Ramirez (@quixem) December 15, 2015
Matt Bonner knocking down 3-pointers during a 40-point game is like getting coal for Christmas then getting kicked in the nuts afterwards— Pounding the Rock (@poundingtherock) December 15, 2015
The Warriors capture the imagination of millions even in blowouts. The Spurs are the nightmare you cannot awake from.— Hardwood Paroxysm (@HPbasketball) December 15, 2015
The Warriors make you feel like life is pointless because you can’t do anything. The Spurs make you feel like life is suffering.— Hardwood Paroxysm (@HPbasketball) December 15, 2015
Well, the Spurs now lead by 41 so the Jazz’ tune tonight is pic.twitter.com/3LJBKsDK8W— CBS Sports NBA (@CBSSportsNBA) December 15, 2015
The "Beautiful Game" Spurs destroyed teams with ball movement. These Spurs rip out your soul, eat it, put it back in and repeat.— Pounding the Rock (@poundingtherock) December 15, 2015
Still pertty early but the Spurs have the best defense of the 3-point line era. Best since 1975 too.— Zach Harper (@talkhoops) December 15, 2015
The Spurs defense is stone turrets housing trebuchets behind steel gates on a bridge over a moat with sharks on a mountain guarded by Jesus.— David McGinnis (@dav_mcg) December 15, 2015
The Spurs are doing nothing to suppress the wide-spread belief that they are really freaking good.— Paul Flannery (@Pflanns) December 15, 2015
Taco Bell menu item of the game
The fully-loaded steak boss wrap is a crunchwrap supreme with two times the steak. It's borderline perfect.
From the opening tip, San Antonio dominated Utah, with two times the defensive ferocity. A 37-point victory almost feels like a disappointment.
And that's a wrap. Until next time ...