As I optimistically noted in the RRT Recap yesterday, "The Spurs are 10-2 in the home game immediately following the Rodeo Road Trip." In the most definitive way imaginable, the Spurs improved that record to 11-2. And it was exactly what the Spurs needed, not to mention the fans.
After a four game losing streak that featured some truly depressing play, a three game win streak is delightful. It also extended the streak of quarters playing the wonderful brand of basketball we have come to love and expect to 10 (admittedly with 6 of those against these same hapless Kings). The very important streak of winning by 27 points was also extended to 2 consecutive games, though it could've easily been by 35 on Wednesday.
The game started out with a heavy dose of Kawhi Leonard, as he did everything from posting up, isolating at the top of the key, to bagging corner threes. Pop said that Leonard set the tempo for the Spurs on both ends in the first quarter, and Tiago Splitter matched DeMarcus Cousins' physicality with great rim protection. Splitter has shown that he deserves to be a starter, and that is in no way a knock on Aron Baynes.
Another promising sign was an active and aggressive Tony Parker. It took a few minutes for him to get his game going, but this ended up being a really strong performance. After missing a few bunnies near the rim, I started to wonder if we'd ever see "Elite Rim Finisher Tony Parker" again, or we'd have to get used to "Corner-3 and Midrange Jumper Tony Parker." TP had 8 points in his first 17 minutes, and 11 points in his final 8, attacking the rim and delaying my existential plight for the time being.
Tim Duncan had a quiet but effective game. He protected the rim with 3 blocks, and was outstanding in his screening and impeding Sacramento's defense in the paint. Between his run blocking skills and back-to-back full court outlet passes, you'd have thought he was auditioning for his beloved Chicago Bears.
This was a fun game to watch, something I'm sure the players, coaches, and all fans could all get behind. Let's hope that the streak of games the Spurs win by 27-point continues against Denver on Friday.
Quote of the Night
Odds and Ends
- I've come up with a theory that Kawhi Leonard's strength comes -- like a modern day Samson -- via his cornrows. They were absolutely pristine tonight, and it makes sense. After being away from his stylist while on the Rodeo Road Trip, his hair was replenished for strength anew. See Game MVP below.
- Marco Bellineli came out pompoms a'blazing. He had a 1st quarter buzzer beater that was really the last time this game looked like a contest. He shot 3-of-6 from deep and had some incredible passes that deserved more than his 3 assists in the box score.
- This game had an incredible underlying redemption story arc. If you haven't yet read Michael Erler's piece on Jeff Ayres, do so right away. Tonight Ayres had an enormous dunk, an excellent block/steal, 2 blocks, and 7 rebounds in 10 minutes. The loudest I cheered all game was on his dunk.
- Manu Ginobili had an incredibly Manu Ginobili-esque game. He shot beautifully, finished a Duncan "GO" route (and drew the foul), and made another one of his (literally) thousands of incredible highlight-reel passes.
But ... also had 6 turnovers.
21 points on 9-of-11 shooting. 5 rebounds. 3 steals. 1 block. Many highlights.
KAWHI SMASH https://t.co/iPMxTHCBxA— SB Nation GIF (@SBNationGIF) March 5, 2015
Could be that 2nd quarter. Could be the offense when Boogie was off the court. Could be Rudy Gay realizing Kawhi ain't a rookie no more. Could been the formerly-big Macs (Ben McLemore and Ray McCallum) who came back to earth after their outstanding showing last time these teams met. Take your pick.
14,470. Tim Duncan passed Nate Thurmond for 9th all time in rebounds. He is currently 36 behind Kevin Garnett (who has played over 4,600 minutes more).
62. Duncan needs only 2 blocks to tie Patrick Ewing for 6th, but the real target is David Robinson who currently has the 5th most blocks all-time with 2.954.
22. Maybe Lincoln would say: "One score and 2 games" remain, but with just under 75% of the season gone, the Spurs are still in the mix for a higher seed as they currently sit 3 games behind the #3 seed and 3.5 games ahead of the #8 seed (and the unconscious Russell Westbrook).
I think Diaw might actually take offense to his omission:
I need to see more Baynes attempts at Cousins. Closest I'll get to watching two elephant seals fighting.— Aaron Preine PS (@DukeOfBexar) March 5, 2015
If you are a kid you are allowed to wear your sunglasses at night. https://t.co/swgIA4yOYi— SB Nation GIF (@SBNationGIF) March 5, 2015
Kawhi just showed he is the equivalent of baseball's 5-tool player. Block, transition dribble, sick bounce pass, offensive rebound, finish.— Kyle Carpenter (@KyleCarpenter) March 5, 2015
Glad they could have good humor about it:
Halftime: Kings trail Spurs 54-38, Gay 8pts 4rebs, DMC 7pts, D-Will 7pts. pic.twitter.com/LoLs6xlEAd— Sacramento Kings (@SacramentoKings) March 5, 2015
Kawhi Leonard and Danny Green are...THE TRANSITION DEFENDERS. I would watch that buddy cop film.— Kyle Carpenter (@KyleCarpenter) March 5, 2015
The Kings announcers are so dejected right now they sound like Monty in Major League 2... "Fly ball... ... ...caught."— 48 Minutes of Hell (@48MoH) March 5, 2015
Not even the Great Wall would be big enough, Stan:
Kawhi Leonard, HAND ON FIRE pic.twitter.com/pKhye9YLhH— Caleb Saenz (@calebjsaenz) March 5, 2015
Jeff Ayers Feel Good Corner
Much better. https://t.co/fToDsHBkm2— J.R. Wilco (@jollyrogerwilco) March 5, 2015