This game had a strange feeling of revenge lingering over it. Not residual from the hardscrabble 2005 NBA Finals, but from about a month ago, when Brandon Jennings picked up a bungled Tim Duncan inbound pass and drove the length of the court for a last-second bucket. With even less than a Fisher-ian amount of time left, Van the Builder formed something of a bleeping wall to avoid a tip-in at the rim.
This game featured the Spurs at full strength (Leonard missed the last meeting, and Tony Parker wasn't 100% on his return from injury) and, maybe for the first time, the Spurs at full SPURS.
Opening with probably their best defensive quarter of the season, the Spurs needed a few minutes to get the offense clicking. They led 20-12 at the end of the first, and as sluggish offense and tough defense prevailed through the beginning of the 2nd, it seemed we were in for another low-scoring grind. At one point the Spurs were shooting 33 percent, but led because they held the Pistons to 27 percent.
But then Danny Green, firmly entrenched in the "Hot" part of the Icy/Hot spectrum, saved us all. He rattled off a trio of three-pointers and energized the Spurs, even inciting Baynes to do this.
Green was hitting 3s, the Spurs were finishing inside, and Tony Parker was penetrating and finishing at the rim. Same as it ever was...finally.
This is the part where I attempt to come up with new ways to describe the Spurs 3rd quarter collapse...nope. There would be no such thing! The Spurs actually played some of their best basketball of the season after the half. Danny Green continued his hot shooting, Parker and Baynes scored efficiently, Duncan and Kawhi Leonard showed up after being absent in the 1st half (Leonard with foul trouble), and Manu Ginobili seemed to reap the benefits of a night off against the Pacers. The Spurs had raised their field goal percentage from 33 percent in the 2nd to 49 percent by the end of the 3rd.
The final quarter was about maintaining, not building, as the Spurs had a 19 point lead. Tony Parker capped off an impressive night and ultimately every Spur got their warm-ups off.
For the Pistons, a player named Luigi Datome played his 17th and 18th minutes of the season, so that's nice. Unfortunately the capstones of their "wall," Andre Drummond and Greg Monroe, looked very pedestrian against Baynes, Splitter, Diaw, and 18 minutes of Duncan. They combined for 16 points and 15 rebounds compared to 37 and 28 in the last meeting.
Popovich may not have torn anything down in win number 1,001, but the Spurs definitely have something to build off of after the All-Star break.
Quote of the Game
Odds and Ends
- The Pistons went an improbable 12-3 after getting rid of Josh Smith, with Brandon Jennings breaking out as a star. With Jennings sadly tearing his Achilles, D.J. Augustin has been phenomenal as the "next man up" (9 out of) the past 10 games. Removing a bizarre 0-for-7 night in a loss to the 76ers, Augustin has averaged 22.3 points and 9 assists (22 and 6 last night).
- This is not the first time Augustin has filled in, spelling admirably when Derrick Rose first went down with knee issues.
- Rick Barnes, who earned a milestone 600th victory last night, must have a knack for producing fantastic "break in case of emergency" point guards, as Spurs fans witnessed with Cory Joseph this year.
Last game I called his outside shooting the LVP, but consciously praised that he was "good-to-excellent in every other part" of his game. Well, he shot 50% with 5 triples tonight. And was a few unfortunate rim-rolls from that being closer to 70%. All while continuing to be really good at other stuff. He was the Spurs leading rebounder for the 2nd consecutive game, something that could really bode well for them (assuming Kawhi continues to be a vacuum and the Bigs can get theirs alongside, rather than in lieu of). Green also played strong defense, adding 2 more blocks to his impressive tally and 2 steals. He is either a) slowly morphing into a complete player or b) #ContractYearAriza.
Poor Kyle Singler.
I've always like this guy, and not just because I have a rule to root for every athlete named Kyle. Bill Simmons said this about him in a column a few years ago: "Either he’s going to end up being horribly overpaid by Joe Dumars (a.k.a. Jerebko-ed), or he’s going to end up on the Spurs at some point, have a bunch of clutch moments, and make everyone say, "Dammit, they did it again!" It’s a coin flip right now."
Tonight was not one of the good nights. 27 minutes, 0 points, recipient of 1 Baynes "Bangers and (face) mash." [see video above]
Imitation Game (Numbers)
Note: You should go see The Imitation Game. Really, really, good film. I bet Benedict Cumberbatch would be a Spurs fan.
.702. Chajamamama said (I don't get much of the pregame on League Pass) in the Game Thread that Cory Joseph was allowing the fewest points per possession in the NBA this season, according to FSSW!
12. Tim Duncan needs just 12 more blocks to pass Patrick Ewing for 6th all-time in blocks.
86%. The Spurs have now won 6 of the past 7 games immediately preceding the All-Star game.
A shout out to @dav_mcg, who ran the PtR Twitter account with aplomb.
Last time the Spurs faced the Pistons, Stan had his men build a wall. It has since stood for a thousand years pic.twitter.com/lfOfcZIrLe— Pounding the Rock (@poundingtherock) February 12, 2015
Rajon Rondo whipped Rick Carlisle in Connect 4. Rick: "He got all excited afterward. I told him to learn how to make a shot."— Tim MacMahon (@espn_macmahon) February 11, 2015
Baynes v Drummond is not a battle of mortal men, but of bloodthirsty Titans with no regard for personal property— Pounding the Rock (@poundingtherock) February 12, 2015
Oh my God, Baynes. He’s strutting like an 11th-century warrior poet— Pounding the Rock (@poundingtherock) February 12, 2015
Reminds me of my sister's JV games in high school. Except none of those girls were world-class, ridiculously-compensated pro athletes.— Dan McCarney (@danmccarneySAEN) February 12, 2015
Steve Kerr on All-Star: "Coaching Tim Duncan.That's gonna be hilarious. We were teammates. He's gonna look at me like I'm the ball boy."— Jon Krawczynski (@APkrawczynski) February 12, 2015