If you’ve been following the season at all, you probably know that the Spurs were just 5-4 at home coming into this game despite having an incredible 13-1 on the road. For some reason the AT&T Center just hasn’t been doing it for the Silver and Black. While they’ve now won five of their last six in San Antonio, until tonight none of those wins were what you would call dominant.
But tonight was different. It was a lot more like last season’s home games, where the Spurs won an NBA-record 40 of their 41 games with 17 of those wins coming by a margin of 15 or more.
It’s been kind of refreshing to watch more competitive games this season, and the Spurs have been excellent in crunch time where they lead the league per nba.com’s clutch measure with an absurd net-rating of 34.7 in their 16 games that qualify (five-point game with less than five minutes to play).
But a close game is not what fans of the team wanted to see with San Antonio pitted against the team with the second-worst record in the East. And the home team more than took care of business in this one.
The Spurs haven’t exactly come out strong early in games, but they sure did in this one. They dropped 41-points on Brooklyn in the first quarter, hitting six triples in the period and just generally playing solid-to-great offensive basketball, hitting 60% of their shots overall. Refreshing, indeed.
After 12 minutes of play the Spurs held a comfortable 15-point lead on the Nets, which they would maintain through the first half after a mediocre 26-all second quarter. Then the third quarter happened. San Antonio doubled up the visitors, 36-18, and put a game that already seemed out of reach to rest.
Patty Mills had an outstanding third quarter, dropping 11 points on 4-of-5 from the field (3-of-3 from deep) and notching a steal in just five and a half minutes. He finished the game second in points (16), assists (4) and plus/minus (+23) for the team and snatched a team-high three steals.
Patty Thrilled tonight!— San Antonio Spurs (@spurs) December 11, 2016
16 points + 3 steals in just 16 minutes. pic.twitter.com/L5RSVmlT0T
The fourth quarter saw mostly non-inspired performances from Jonathon Simmons, David Lee, Nicolas Laprovittola, Kyle Anderson and Davis Bertans, but the final period curiously saw almost five minutes from Pau Gasol. The big Spaniard was 3-for-4 in the quarter and scored seven for the good guys. I’m not sure why Dewayne Dedmon didn’t get more run, but Pop does what he does.
The final score doesn’t do this one justice, the Spurs led by as many as 38, scored a season-high 130 on 53% shooting (54% from deep) and dished a season-high 38 dimes and only turned the ball over seven times in the first three quarters (10 overall).
There’s not a lot to take away from this game. The Spurs simply had a great night against a bad team. They out-talented and out-executed a bottom-of-the-barrel squad is all. But considering they have a home loss to the Magic and home wins of less than five-points to the Heat, Mavs and Wizards it is a good win and a good sign as we move into the second quartile of the season.
Your Spurs improve to 19-5, tying the third-best start through 24 games in franchise history, which is completely absurd if you really think about it. I mean, the team’s not even playing particularly well outside of the end of games and a couple of blowouts. The team will almost certainly come back down to earth some when trying to finish out close games but you have to think that they’ll also put in more dominant performances against the dregs of the leagues like we saw in this one as they gel and figure out how to play together. Remember, the Spurs are incorporating seven new players this season, the most since the 2001 season.
San Antonio sits in second in the West a game back from Golden State. The Warriors had a rough night, suffering a beatdown, 110-89, at the hands of the red-hot Grizzlies sans Mike Conley. Three of the four losses the Warriors have this season have now come by at least 20 points.
The playoffs are a completely different beast and it’s going to be interesting to see what happens, but until then this team is fun to watch.
- Kawhi Leonard had his seventh 30-point game of the season after putting up just four in his first five seasons. I’m fairly confident that the Spurs didn’t need Kawhi to be in superhero mode in this one, but the team’s best player put together a monster performance in just 27 minutes. 30 points, six boards, three assists to no giveaways and a steal and a block.
30 points, 6 boards, 3 assists, 1 block & 1 steal in 27 minutes tonight = Kawhilights pic.twitter.com/RczgrYOAvI— San Antonio Spurs (@spurs) December 11, 2016
- Kyle Anderson is deep in Pop’s doghouse. After averaging 21 minutes per contest over the first nine games of the season he’s only seen eight minutes per game over the last 14 games (and didn’t even see the floor in three of those). He didn’t do himself any favors tonight, playing 10 minutes in garbage time, shooting 1-for-4 from the field and posting a team-low minus-6. At this point, I don’t think he’s going to climb out this season and wouldn’t be surprised if he wasn’t with the team for much longer. He seems like a nice kid, but that kind of turnaround in playing time is huge.
- Tony Parker was solid in his 20 minutes. Seven helpers to no turnovers to go with 12 points on 63% shooting including a triple. It’s been a tough season for the 16-season veteran as he’s fought through a number of injuries as one of the oldest all-time 34-year old NBA players of all time.
- Danny Green was fairly quiet for the night with a 5-3-2-1-1 line and only took a single shot from deep, but check out his next-level transition defense. What a bargain he continues to be. He’s shooting it well this season, back up to 41% from deep and a career-high true shooting percentage of 60.9% to go with his elite wing defense.
No player has better transition defense instincts than Danny Green https://t.co/O74jibzfHN— Bruno Passos (@brunosteps) December 11, 2016
- The Spurs held the Nets to 41% from the floor and won every statistical category except for fouls committed and free throws attempted. Dominant.
The Spurs get a full three days off before they host the Boston Celtics for a late start (8:30 Spurs time) on Wednesday night. I don’t know about you guys, but I’m looking forward to watching Brad Stevens do his thing in the NBA for the next 30 years. The Celtics are a fun squad and excellently coached. I’m expecting a much closer contest.