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Spurs grind out win over Houston

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The Spurs won their 2nd straight over the Rockets and 10th straight overall as they came back from an early 14 point deficit in an ugly slog of a game which saw Popovich deploy the hack-a-Smith strategy, leading to a 32/53 FT showing from Houston.

Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

Spurs 104, Rockets 103 - Apr 10, '15

I'm really not sure what to say about a game that was so lacking in rhythm and beauty.  The Spurs started ice cold and quickly fell behind by as much as 14 as the Parker penetration which was so effective on Wednesday was nonexistent on Friday.

The Spurs second unit started the process of clawing their way back into the game behind Diaw and Ginobili, who were very effective in the first half, but the Spurs could never quite pull ahead, tying on a couple of occasions and trailing by a few points until Patty Mills hit back to back 3s to give the Spurs their first lead, which they would never relinquish.

Popovich decided to use the hack-a-Dorsey/hack-a-Smith strategy quite liberally, and while the pace ground to a halt and lost any semblance of an entertaining sporting event, it was effective as Smith hit just 12 of 26 and Houston shot a collective 60.4% on their 53 (!) free throw attempts.  Oof.

Chris Itz noted the delicious irony of fans of the league's 2nd highest FT shooting team complaining about all the trips to the line, and I must confess I found it pretty satisfying to watch them struggle.  Houston is the most empirically awful team in the league, so anything that causes their fanbase distress is Okay in my book.

Here's a fun way to look at this game: the Spurs shot 23.5% from deep to Houston's 42.9%, Houston scored 27 points in transition and shot 53 free throws, and the Spurs won.  Love it. They did it of course by fouling the right people and winning the rebounding and ball control battles.  I'm totally fine with winning that way.

Four Factors (def.)

Spurs Rockets
Shooting (eFG%) 54% 54%
Ball Handling (TO%) 16% 20%
Off Rebounding (OR%) 30% 25%
Shooting FTs (FT Rate) 28% 80%

80% Free Throw Rate? Hilarious.

Team Stats (Definitions at bottom of post)

Spurs Rockets
Pace (No. of Possessions) 99.4
Points Per Possession (PPP) 1.05 1.04
Points Per Shot (PPS) 1.22 1.56
2-PT FG% 54.4% 48.9%
3-PT FG% 23.5% 42.9%
FT% 75.0% 60.4%
True Shooting % 54.4% 57.7%
Offensive Rating 105.5 102.7
Defensive Rating 102.7 105.5
Net Rating 2.8 -2.8
Spurs Rockets
Passes / poss. 3.7 2.2
% of FGA uncontested 45.9% 42.4%
Points in the paint 44 38
Second chance points 14 9
Fast break points 9 27
Spurs Rockets
Assists 23 19
Steals 12 9
Turnovers 15 20
Ball Control Index (BCI)
(Assists + Steals) / TO
2.33 1.40
Spurs Rockets
Expected Offensive Rebounds 10.8 9.0
Offensive Rebounds 13 9
Difference 2.2 -0.0

Spurs Shot Chart

Rockets Shot Chart

Players (Definitions at bottom of post, columns sortable)


Tim Duncan 34 36.0 1.05 29 Pts (12-15 FG, 5-8 FT) 10 Reb (4 Off), 2 Ast, 3 Blk, 1 Stl, 3 TO, 4 PF 28% 69% 106.1 105.3 0.8
Kawhi Leonard 39 21.1 0.54 18 Pts (7-17 FG, 0-2 3PT, 4-4 FT) 9 Reb (1 Off), 2 Ast, 4 Stl, 1 TO, 2 PF 22% 52% 102.9 104.0 -1.0
Aron Baynes 18 15.0 0.82 13 Pts (5-6 FG, 3-4 FT) 4 Reb (3 Off), 1 Ast, 1 Stl, 1 TO, 6 PF 20% 77% 79.7 119.8 -40.1
Patty Mills 11 13.7 1.19 14 Pts (4-4 FG, 3-3 3PT, 3-4 FT) 1 Reb (0 Off), 2 Ast, 1 Stl, 3 TO, 5 PF 28% 64% 119.2 94.5 24.7
Marco Belinelli 14 8.1 0.56 5 Pts (2-4 FG, 1-3 3PT ) 1 Reb (0 Off), 1 Ast, 2 Stl, 11% 58% 94.3 92.5 1.8
Boris Diaw 26 8.1 0.32 10 Pts (4-13 FG, 0-1 3PT, 2-2 FT) 5 Reb (3 Off), 4 Ast, 5 PF 22% 49% 110.6 103.6 7.1
Jeff Ayres 8 4.3 0.52 4 Pts (2-3 FG, ) 3 Reb (1 Off), 2 PF 17% 69% 138.5 96.2 42.4
Manu Ginobili 21 2.8 0.13 6 Pts (3-7 FG, 0-2 3PT ) 2 Reb (0 Off), 4 Ast, 2 Stl, 4 TO, 4 PF 22% 37% 124.5 88.1 36.5
Cory Joseph 9 2.2 0.25 3 Pts (1-1 FG, 1-2 FT) 1 Reb (1 Off), 1 TO, 1 PF 16% 50% 125.9 82.0 44.0
Tony Parker 28 -0.3 -0.01 2 Pts (1-7 FG, ) 2 Reb (0 Off), 3 Ast, 1 PF 11% 31% 92.3 112.7 -20.4
Matt Bonner 7 -1.5 -0.22 0 Pts (0-1 FG, 0-1 3PT ) , 1 PF 7% 0% 79.9 72.7 7.3
Danny Green 24 -5.5 -0.23 0 Pts (0-7 FG, 0-5 3PT ) 2 Reb (0 Off), 4 Ast, 1 Stl, 2 TO, 4 PF 16% 18% 109.4 112.3 -2.9

Show Rockets Players

Tim Duncan was a demigod on Friday, putting up 29 points on 15 shots to go with 10 boards, 2 assists, 3 blocks, a steal and 3 turnovers, not to mention the whole winning-the-game-on-what-was-clearly-a-clean-block-despite-Houston's-hand-wringing.  Unbelievable that Timmy is still capable of that, and against the Rockets no less.

Kawhi had a really weird game.  Jesus shared it in his recap, but I just have to share it again because it summarized Kawhi's night so perfectly:

And as Jesus so nicely put it:

A role player makes efficient shots. A star makes inefficient shots at an efficient rate. Kawhi's evolution continues.

Aron Baynes played like a beast, putting up 13 points on 6 shot attempts and grabbing 4 boards in just 18 minutes before a series of terrible calls sidelined him early in the 4th.  This game saw some pretty piss poor officiating in my opinion, and had the Spurs come out on the wrong end of it I'd probably waste a lot more words on it.  Instead, it's just water under the River Walk bridge.  But I will never forget Clyde Drexler complaining about an obvious Houston shooting foul at a point in the game when Houston had already attempted 13 free throws to San Antonio's 0.

Patty Mills, everybody!  Patty's 3 point shooting was critical in the Spurs' comeback, with his back-to-back 3s taking the Spurs from down 1 to up 5.  He hit all 4 of his field goals and 3 deep balls to make up for a few boneheaded plays which led to a trio of turnovers.  It's a tiny sample size I know, but I hope that this is the Mills we will see in the playoffs, because boy does San Antonio's ceiling rise when both Diaw and Mills are locked in.  

The rest of the backcourt struggled immensely, as Danny Green, Corey Joseph and Tony Parker netted a combined -3.6 AdjGS.  Oof.  Fortunately, those 3 had all been playing well and it's unlikely we will see a combined suckage of that magnitude again any time soon.

Spurs Index: 95.8 (def.)

Factor Value Score
Passing (AST%) 56.1% 27.1
Shooting (eFG%) 53.5% 19.9
Defensive Rebounding (DReb%) 75.0% 19.6
Defense (DefRtg) 102.7 19.5
Opponent % of FGA Uncontested 42.4% 9.6
Total 95.8

Decently "Spursy" effort here, but really, to compare this game to any other game ever is kind of pointless, as weird as this one was.

The Spurs move up to 3rd in the West, and with a pair of Memphis losses could even take the 2 seed.  Who'd have thought 2 months ago that was even on the table?  Incredible to see the Silver and Black hitting their stride at just the right time.  Hopefully they can take care of business against Phoenix on Sunday and keep this train rolling.  Go Spurs Go!

Rockets Spurs Index: 94.1 Show Breakdown

* I don't have numbers but you know it's true.

* It's a very spiteful book



eFG%: Effective Field Goal percentage. (via) Effective Field Goal Percentage; the formula is (FG + 0.5 * 3P) / FGA. This statistic adjusts for the fact that a 3-point field goal is worth one more point than a 2-point field goal. For example, suppose Player A goes 4 for 10 with 2 threes, while Player B goes 5 for 10 with 0 threes. Each player would have 10 points from field goals, and thus would have the same effective field goal percentage (50%).

AdjGS: a take-off of the Game Score metric (definition here) accepted by a lot of basketball stat nerds. It takes points, assists, rebounds (offensive & defensive), steals, blocks, turnovers and fouls into account to determine an individual's "score" for a given game. The "adjustment" in Adjusted Game Score is simply matching the total game scores to the total points scored in the game, thereby redistributing the game's points scored to those who had the biggest impact on the game itself, instead of just how many balls a player put through a basket.

Usage%: This "estimates the % of team possessions a player consumes while on the floor" (via). The usage of those possessions is determined via a formula using field goal and free throw attempts, offensive rebounds, assists and turnovers. The higher the number, the more prevalent a player is (good or bad) in a team's offensive outcome.

Floor%: Via Floor % answers the question, "when Player X uses a possession, what is the probability that his team scores at least 1 point?". The higher the Floor%, the more frequently the team probably scores when the given player is involved.

Offensive Rating (offRtg): Points per 100 possessions.

Defensive Rating (defRtg): Points allowed per 100 possessions.

Spurs Index: The Spurs Index © is a just-for-fun formula that attempts to quantify just how "Spursy" a particular game is, based off averages for the 2013-2014 regular season. A perfectly average game would have a Spurs Index of 100. The formula consists of four factors which the Spurs are known for and lead or nearly lead the league in: Shooting (effective Field Goal %), Passing (Assist percentage), Defensive Rebounding Rate, and Defensive Rating. These metrics are weighted as follows:

Factor Weight Average
Passing (AST%) 30% 62.1%
Shooting (eFG%) 20% 53.7%
Defensive Rebounding (DReb%) 20% 76.4%
Defense (DefRtg) 20% 100.1
Opponent % of FGA Uncontested 10% 40.8%
The values for each metric are determined based on how a particular game's performance compares to the Spurs 2013-2014 regular season average for that metric. For instance, the average effective Field Goal percentage for 2013-2014 was 53.7%. So if the Spurs shot 60% in a given game, the score for eFG% would be calculated by: (0.6 / 0.537) * 20, which would yield a "score" for that factor of 22.3.

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