Close your eyes and picture the dunkingest team in the NBA. Maybe you are seeing visions of Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan throwing down Chris Paul lobs. Maybe you see Tyson Chandler doing the same from Rajon Rondo. Maybe you are picturing Dwight Howard, Anthony Davis, or Mason Plumlee doing work. Maybe its LeBron James on the fast break, or Kenneth Faried / Giannis Antetokounmpo doing alien things.
There is also a decent chance that you imagined some configuration of Toronto Raptors players throwing down monster jams. And for good reason. Terrence Ross won the 2013 Dunk Contest, Amir Johnson won the 2005 McDonald's All-American Dunk Contest, and DeMar DeRozan (2008 McDonald’s HS winner himself) seems like he's been in more dunk contests than he has capital letters in his name.
But if you said that Tuesday's game looked like a dunk contest, you're probably referencing the Spurs. Kawhi was in supreme Sephora-mode, doling out facials, (Note: My wife has informed me that Sephora doesn't do facials. Nonetheless, the joke stands), Tim Duncan threw down an alley-oop and two fast break dunks, and Baynes did that thing he does where he imagines the rim insulted his sister. I honestly do not remember a more dunkalicious game, at least since the "Fast-Breakin-Fiesta Spurs."
And for the people who like these types of things, the Spurs really satisfied the analytic-crazed by shooting 61% (11-of-18) from beyond the arc. 3s and dunks, it's a simple game.
But this wasn't exactly perfect. Check the recap for more specifics, but the Spurs have a few questions to answer coming out with their 6th consecutive win.
Quote of the Night
I want to say Tony Parker because as much as the collective internet has disparaged him over the past weeks, he deserves every single word that is currently being devoted to his turnaround. I hope Simmons writes 18,000 words on how Parker is like the redemption arc of Brittany Murphy's character in Clueless. Or something.
But tonight's MVP is, undoubtedly, is Kawhi Leonard. He had 24 points--punctuated by 5 or 6 really excellent dunks-- 11 rebounds, 5 steals, 1 block, and 1 assist (and at least 10 other non-boxscore defensive plays). After starting 0-4, and playing what seemed like a slightly over-eager and out of control basketball, Kawhi did this:
That dunk seemed to calibrate the machine as Leonard made 10-of-15 the remainder of the game. He was seemingly everywhere on the court and kept dangerous DeRozan silent for most of the game.
Manu Ginobili's intestines. Anything that denies me and his fans from Taiwan the chance to see our favorite player is the worst. But seriously, get better Manu!
Couple who flew all the way from Taiwan to watch Manu about to be mortally crushed when they realize he's out sick. Poor guys...— Dan McCarney (@danmccarneySAEN) March 11, 2015
Odds and Ends
Kawhi had a fantastic game, as detailed above. This was his 5th consecutive 20-point game, and the Spurs have won the last 6. I don't think there is any coincidence in the overlap of the two, nor do I think there is any coincidence in the fact that the Spurs are looking to him. This seems to be by design. There were growing pains, especially when Parker was struggling to initiate and the Spurs looked to a heavy post and iso package to run their offense through Leonard.
The Spurs are now 11-2 when he scores 20 points this season. The 5 consecutive are as many as he's ever even recorded in a previous season. When he reached that plateau previously, the Spurs record was:
- 3-0 in 2013-14
- 4-1 in 2012-13
- 0-1 in 2011-12
He has scored 20 points in only 22 of his 232 and NBA games, so he is absolutely blossoming before our eyes and learning how to be a scorer. I really like the idea that he would do it with aggressive moves from the triple threat and/or post with smaller defenders or with great transition and finishes like he did tonight. In previous years he reached that number by either accident or blowout (the only 20-point game his rookie year came in a 40-point loss to the Blazers on the RRT), which leaves me beyond excited.
I imagine the Spurs immediate future looking a lot like it did tonight, but hopefully with a much better solution for defensive rebounding. The one drawback to Kawhi being our best on-ball defender AND our best offensive weapon is that we lose our best defensive redounder...that will be a test for Pop in the future.
-1309 games. After resetting a lengthy regular season streak, Duncan has a few more game to set a new record.
-13 rebounds. After a 20-6 early rebounding advantage, the Spurs ended up being outrebounded 46-45. (This somewhat surprisingly coincided with Jonas Valanciunas being out with foul trouble)
144 points. Over the last six games, the Spurs largest leads have been: 15, 34, 40, 10, 19, and 26.
0 Mascots. Since Chris Bosh left Canada, the Raptors have failed to replace their on-court mascot.
90%. The Spurs non-Point Guards were 9-for-10 from deep (Green 5/6, Marco 2/2, Bonner 2/2). The PGs were a measly 2-for-8. Pick it up, Point Guards!
Every team can have skeptical fans when they're losing:
Oh man, comment section be merciless. pic.twitter.com/RhFJU3spZN— Raptors Republic (@raptorsrepublic) March 10, 2015
Coach Bud is the (2nd) greatest:
Coach Bud went to a Drake concert with DeMarre Carroll pic.twitter.com/stb59TCYwE— alex (@steven_lebron) March 10, 2015
Warriors (@warriors) March 10, 2015
They went from:
Raptors fans watching this game be like: pic.twitter.com/4fTAvagLEt— Daniel Reynolds (@aka_Reynolds) March 11, 2015
Now Raptors fans watching this game be like: pic.twitter.com/TCV5f7NYkp— Daniel Reynolds (@aka_Reynolds) March 11, 2015
KATNISS DANNYGREEN, THE MAN ON FIIIIIIIIRE— Pounding the Rock (@poundingtherock) March 11, 2015
He's earned it:
I wonder what Kawhi will do first with his max money. Business investments? Get his mom something? Buy a new operating system, perhaps?— Ian Dougherty (@IanDougherty) March 11, 2015
Call the Spurs John Hammond because they own the Raptors.— Heff (@Mos_Heff) March 11, 2015
Illegal in 23 states RT @Matthew_Tynan: Spurs playing murder-ball again.— Pounding the Rock (@poundingtherock) March 11, 2015
Bonner dribble penetration will always lead to something great...usually comedy. But great comedy nonetheless. @LukeyBonner— Kyle Carpenter (@KyleCarpenter) March 11, 2015
Raps cut it to 20, leading to a Pop "I’m not mad, just disappointed" timeout— Pounding the Rock (@poundingtherock) March 11, 2015
Psycho T is the best:
Rosetta Stone has paid off for Tiago Splitter. His reaction to last foul: "Come on man, that's a bull$*& call."— Dan McCarney (@danmccarneySAEN) March 11, 2015
Matt Bonner and Boris Diaw have combined for as many defensive rebounds as Manu Ginobili and the Pope, in 27 more minutes.— Michael Erler (@MichaelErlerSBN) March 11, 2015
With their 40th win of the year tonight, Spurs have now won 40+ games in 24 of last 25 seasons, excluding the '98-99 lockout year (37-13).— Jordan Howenstine (@AirlessJordan) March 11, 2015
WE'VE MOVED UP TO THE #6 SEED!!!