I think Tim Duncan really enjoys scoring on Dwight Howard. It's like somewhere along the way, Howard said or did something to Tim and now Tim takes every opportunity to show him up. Perhaps it's more simple than that and he just doesn't like him for all of the reasons that the public doesn't. Whatever it is, and maybe it was just a night where Tim felt really good, but he was quicker, more aggressive and looked for his shot more than what we've seen recently.
Tim had it going on down low with a nice drive across the lane.
Whatever the reason was for the increased isos, the result was vintage Big Fun.
Tim's first two shots were jumpers and after both missed badly he put the jumper away and proceeded to hit 12 of the 13 other shots he took. The tic-tac-toe passing the Spurs are known for is the most fun when the bigs are involved.
Manu Ginobili scored just six points on 3-of-7 from the floor, but numero veinte finished a plus-14 for the game in his 21 minutes. Check out this beautiful, defense-splitting pass that leads Tim to a three-point play.
I think Kawhi is starting to see basketball before it happens. He's the one player on the team that has a license to go for offensive rebounds and he's the only guy that is headed back on D before Tim even catches the pass from Danny in the corner.
I'm pretty sure this isn't an effective strategy for defending the pick-and-roll.
In a play we've seen a couple of times recently, the Denver game comes to mind, Kawhi Leonard rewards Tim for running the floor by dropping off a bouncer to the flanking Timmy for the jam. Good decision from Pablo Prigioni to just get out of the way.
And the reaction after the play. Note the head nod.
I'm sure you've seen it 100 times by now (the block, not Tim winning a game,) but why not once, twice or even thrice more?
Josh Smith spent a lot of time at the free throw line, the result of Gregg Popovich intentionally fouling Smoove, and let's just say that the fans in the arena didn't appreciate it. It doesn't look like Smith had much a good time either.
James Harden probably lost the MVP race on Friday night, a combination of losing the scoring title (at least for the moment,) four places in the standings and the "Harden dragged them to a two-seed" narrative. Challenging Kawhi one-on-one at the arc didn't help either.