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San Antonio at Milwaukee, Final Score: Spurs dismantle Bucks 123-98

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After a bit of a slow start, the Spurs wore down a young Milwaukee Bucks team, with solid efforts from Kawhi Leonard and Tim Duncan and also saw a breakout game from former D-League player Jonathon Simmons, who thrilled the crowd with a series of spectacular dunks.

Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports

The Milwaukee Bucks are one of the most physically intimidating teams in the NBA: they can overwhelm you with waves of long and athletic young players who can overwhelm you with their quickness and power.  But they lack experience, and the Spurs have some weapons of their own.  After a slow start, the crafty old guys, along with a couple of their young guys, easily dispatched the Bucks.

The Spurs started slowly on offense, seemingly stymied by the forest of long arms from the young and long Bucks, and they also didn't defend all that well in the first quarter. Jabari Parker was able to drive at will to the left side of the paint and put in several easy layups as the Bucks leaped to a quick 16-6 lead.  Giannis Antetokounmpo and Greg Monroe got into the action and only Kawhi Leonard, LaMarcus Aldridge and Tim Duncan seemed to do much of anything for the good guys.  But the bench came in and lifted the Spurs on offense.  Despite allowing the Bucks to shoot 77% in the first quarter, the Spurs were able to bring themselves within one point of Milwaukee with a shoe on the line two from Kawhi as the quarter ran out with the Bucks leading 30-29.

The Spurs picked up the defensive intensity in the second quarter.  Both teams played pretty evenly for the first five minutes in the quarter, but as he often does, Manu Ginobili broke it open for the Spurs with clutch shots and great defensive plays.  With about 7 minutes left, Manu was wide open for a straight on three-point shot, with O.J. Mayo about 10 feet away, but inexplicably he pump faked.  Like a puppet on a string, Mayo jumped straight up into the air ... and then Manu drained the shot.

LaMarcus also had this spectacular dunk over the Greek Freak:

But the biggest difference-maker in the second quarter was Jonathon Simmons, who had a series of spectacular scoring plays, including this one:

The Spurs went into halftime up 60-49, outscoring the Bucks 31-19 in the quarter.

In the 3rd quarter, Patty Mills got into the act, hitting threes and distributing the ball to open teammates, but the Bucks kept the game from getting out of hand with solid play from Greg Monroe under the basket. Khris Middleton did a great job finding the open man and getting him the ball in the third.  The Spurs led at the end of three 90-75.

Boris Diaw and Duncan continued to school the young Bucks as the fourth quarter unfolded. and with 5:06 left, Coach Pop put in a lineup of Ray McCallum, Boban Marjanovic, David West, Kyle Anderson and Jonathon Simmons to finish out the game.  That's the end of the Spurs bench, but it's actually a lineup that would be able to make waves against a lot of the starting lineups in the league.

Apparently, Simmons impressed the fans in the Milwaukee arena:

Shoegazer Monday music:

Notes:

  • Tony Parker did nothing in tonight's game.  He might as well have been at home sipping Bordeaux.  ... Hold on ... he was. As far as we know ...
  • Tim Duncan, a few days after the only scoreless game of his career had a very solid effort.  On top of scoring 14, he was stealing the ball, anchoring the defense, and pretty much doing all the things he does, which is to help the team win and make his teammates better.
  • Jonathon Simmons had his best game as a Spur with 18 points on 6-7 shooting.  He's been showing a ton of promise this season, and Pounding the Rock authors have been noticing.
  • This is the second time this season that the Spurs have beat the Bucks by exactly 25 points.  I might help to calculate the average margin of victory, but I think it's 25.
  • Boban only scored 2 points, but he had a nice assist and continued to show that he's a really skilled basketball player, on top of being, well, large.
  • You know, I hardly mentioned Kawhi in this recap.  He was spectacular. It's getting to the point where we almost take that for granted.

The big finish:

The Spurs record is now 30-6 and they are in, you guessed it, second place in the Western Conference behind the Warriors.  If you want to read how Bucks fans felt about tonight's game, visit Brew Hoop and be nice.  The Spurs play next on Wednesday, January 6th, in AT&T Center at 7:30 PM against the Utah Jazz.