The Spurs have won by an average of 17 points during their five-game win streak. The defense has been pretty good, but the offense, which had been disappointing prior to the streak, is what has really taken a leap. San Antonio has averaged 111.2 ppg over the last five and a staggering 116 ppg over their last three. The competition hasn't been tough, and I don't want to get ahead of myself, but the team feels right. The rest of the Western Conference playoff teams must feel SA coming - despite the sub-par overall play this season, the Spurs are just three games back from the three-seed in the loss column.
The Spurs put on a nice performance in the first half by taking care of the basketball and forcing turnovers on their end that really hurt the shorthanded Bulls. When San Antonio didn't force a turnover, Kawhi Leonard and Danny Green made life really difficult for their man. Not all of the Spurs' shots fell but the ball movement looked good, the deep ball fell at a good clip, the energy and focus were good and the recent renaissance of Spurs basketball continued. By halftime the Spurs held a well-deserved 57-39 lead.
The third quarter, however, was more like the troublesome third quarters from this season than the beautiful game the Spurs were celebrated for in June. The Spurs allowed a whopping 38 points from Chicago by, as Gregg Popovich said, "not handling the pick-and-roll very well." The Bulls hit 12 of their 17 shots in the quarter and chipped in 11 (out of 12 attempts) on freebies. But not everything went poorly for the Silver and Black in the period.
Tony Parker, who's found his confidence as of late, was absolutely brillian for SA. In a four-and-a-half minute stretch, The Wee Frenchman scored 15 consecutive points for the team. So GREAT to have TP back.
The fourth quarter saw the Bulls cut the Spurs lead to eight early, but the good guys responded with three straight triples from Patty Mills, Manu Ginobili and then some great passing that led to a corner three for Parker. The Bulls answered with five straight to possibly make it interesting before a couple of Tony layups and a dunk from Kawhi Leonard, who had another otstanding game himself, extended the lead to 16 with about four minutes left to play.
A quick note about Whi - the kid scored at least 20 points for the fourth game in a row, and while the box score only shows three steals, it felt like 15 swipes. This Kawhi and this Tony have the team humming.
Duncan had a rough day going 0-of-8 from the floor, but Patty Mills, Danny Green and Gino combined to go 15-of-25 overall and 7-of-13 from deep. Great to see Patty shoot well.
Your Spurs improve to 39-23 for the season and at least momentarily find themselves out of the seventh seed in the West. The Mavericks play later today and could reclaim the six-seed with a win. Still, it's nice that the Spurs will have at least one fewer loss than Dallas no matter what the outcome of the Dallas/Lakers game is.
GIF of the Afternoon:
I know Tony had a couple of great spin-moves, and we'll get to those in the GIF Breakdown, but I think this play with TP as a one-man show is a great indicator of just how confidently he's playing right now.
This isn't Tony exploiting a team in transition, this is Tony against a set Bulls defense in the half-court. A crossover fools Tony Snell and then Parker takes it right at a really great defender in Joakim Noah and makes Noah look average. Fantastic.
The Spurs will look to make it six-straight when they host the Toronto Raptors on Tuesday night at 7:30 Spurs time.