What a bizarre Rodeo Road Trip this is turning out to be. After looking putrid to kick off against the Raptors (has anyone coined AIR CANADA for that shooting performance? If not, consider it coined), the Spurs came out firing against the Pacers.
Tony Parker, in particular, showed form in stark contrast to what we'd last seen. Basketball Twitter had collectively agreed that something wasn't right and that the Parker career collapse was imminent. Admittedly, there was a moment towards the end of a close Raptors game where Parker had Jonas Valanciunas on him at the perimeter and DIDN'T attack the rim. My fears were assuaged early as Parker started 5-of-7 for 11 points with 3 assists in the first 6 minutes. More on his other 24 minutes later.
This was a game of quarters...not the college drinking game--though that certainly could've helped after half-time--but an incoherent, bi-polar mess of a performance that is becoming more and more characteristic of this Spurs team. If the first quarter was an exciting offensive shootout, featuring the "ghost of Parker Past," then the second was early 2000s grind it out, rely on Duncan on offense, have him block literally everything on defense. Witnessing that stretch made me consider renewing my blockbuster membership and downloading some Blink 182 off of Limewire (glory days).
And in the 3rd quarter--that terrible, horrible, no good, very bad 3rd quarter--the Pacers finished on a 20-6 run to lead by 14. To start the 4th, none except Canada's favorite son would answer Popovich's SOS call (#CoreyJosephNicknameAlert). SOS (just go with it) played well, keeping it close enough for the the starters to have a chance after the line-change at the 6 minute mark.
The final 6 minutes were something like the opening six, only this time featuring defense from the champs! In the end, it was obviously Baynes on a putback and Marco Belinelli with a shot-clock beating bucket that capped a playoff-like intensity and chaos to bring Popovich his 1000th victory.
Why wouldn't it be the unsung foreign guy and a gem out of someone else's scrap heap (Beli checks both boxes) to compliment the Spurs steady stars? Isn't that the most Popovichian thing about this whole achievement? The more things change...
Quote of the Game/Call to Photoshop Action
(Y'all know what to do)
Odds and Ends
- Popovich recorded his first career win in December of 1996. At that time, Frank Vogel was playing on the JV squad at the University of Kentucky and serving as the student manager for Rick Pitino.
- Tony Parker was magisterial in the 1st quarter, coming on the heels of a -22 +/- (10 pts in 30 minutes) against the Raps, which itself followed a very efficient 21 pts in 29 minutes on 9-for-12 shooting against a porous (and Hassan-less) Heat. In the first 6 minutes tonight, he had 11 pts, 3 assists, and missed only 2 shots. He then went on to miss his next 5 shots of the half and only had 2 field goals and 1 assist in the entire 2nd half. Outside of that opening flourish, he shot 2-for-9 (including another dent to the 3-pt record pursuit, missing his only attempt), with 3 assists and 3 turnovers.
- This shows that at the very least he's not consistent, but is possibly indicative of something more harrowing. No one should be writing him off yet however. These are exactly the type of things the mythical RRT aims to smooth out.
Coach Gregg Popovich. Nothing particularly noteworthy on his 1000th REGULAR SEASON victory (lets not discredit his 149 playoff wins, 3rd most all-time). He did allow Kawhi to iso, à la Manu, on the final possession, leading to the game-winning jumper for Marco Belinelli, but that very well could've been an audible due to David West guarding him out of the timeout.
Danny Green/The Spurs outside shooting. Everybody (except Marco!) was bad from range, but Green was 1-for-8. I also wanted to single out only that part of his game, because he was good-to-excellent in every other part. He had a career high 12 rebounds, 3 steals, and great overall defense. His face may've even won the game. It was just that those 7 misses were WIDE OPEN. Icy.
- 24%. The Spurs shot 6-for-25, and I'm sure if you went back and counted they were someting like 3-for-16 on WIDE OPEN 3-pointers. They are now 13-for-53 on the RRT. That absolutely will improve, which is nice.
- 42.5%. 37-for-87 shooting is better than 31 for 93 (.333), and against better defense. The Raptors are near the bottom of the league, allowing opponents a .458 FG%, while the Pacers are nearly identical to the Spurs, and in the top 3rd, at .442.
- 1,000. Probably the amount the Spurs superfan who is completing the RRT has spent. What, did you expect something else?
- 0. The number of proper wine bars for Pop to celebrate at in Indianapolis.
- 12. The number of head coaches the Detroit Pistons have had since Pop took the job.
As sidenote on Popovich front relating to Spurs' selfless culture, his bio in the media guide is on Page 79. Coaches typically near front.— Sam Amick (@sam_amick) February 10, 2015
Shayne Whittington just learned that Father Time* is undefeated. *Father Time is Tim Duncan— Dan Devine (@YourManDevine) February 10, 2015
The Spurs only got 6 second chance points all night long. They accounted for 6 of their final 8 points.— Tim Donahue (@TimDonahue8p9s) February 10, 2015
I had this horrible thought today, that the Spurs aren’t struggling/coasting. They’re just angling for whatever seed plays Memphis round 1.— Hardwood Paroxysm (@HPbasketball) February 10, 2015
DUNK CONTEST STARTS EARLY https://t.co/9i02RTRXtA— SB Nation GIF (@SBNationGIF) February 10, 2015