For all the gargantuan height+length of Rudy Gobert and Boban Marjanovic, and with a red-hot LaMarcus Aldridge trading smooth post moves with Derrick Favors--not to mention a 999-win Tim Duncan--you’d be forgiven for fixing your eyes on the game-within-the-game in the paint and on the glass. Tuesday night's game between the Jazz and Spurs ended up, ultimately, a contest of disparate three-pointers.
The night after one of the greatest NCAA Championship games on record was capped with a pair of dueling triples, you'd again be forgiven for simply assuming Rodney Hood would sink the Spurs at the buzzer.
Everything else he'd done in the 4th quarter was pitch perfect.
Maybe it was the 4,183 additional feet above sea level, but the former Duke player couldn’t replicate the North-Carolina dagger of Villanova’s Kris Jenkins. The ball eventually bounced harmlessly to the corner to be covered up by Tar Heel alum Danny Green, himself fresh off a flight from that game in Houston (thought that game actually served as merely a live action Crying Jordan meme).
The thing is, the Spurs ultimately won on an early three-pointer from David West (his 3rd of the year), a late one from Kyle Anderson (his 11th of the year), and one of the Tony Parker crunch-time variety (his 27th) over Rudy Gobert—who has 12 inches on him.
I don't know how many times I've tweeted this, but Tony Parker's career "pressure 3" or "clutch 3" must be 30% higher than "regular" 3s.— Kyle Carpenter (@KyleCarpenter) April 6, 2016
More : https://t.co/ul2nyp9Fpr pic.twitter.com/tK2dCeP7TV— San Antonio Spurs (@spurs) April 6, 2016
Those shots wouldn’t have even come into play if the Jazz hadn’t suddenly snapped out of an 0-for-11 funk to start the 4th quarter 5-for-5 in the process of erasing a 16-point Spurs lead. But when the league’s leading three-point shooter, and it’s streakiest (Leonard and Green, respectively) are a combined 0-for-6 from deep and the Spurs still shoot over 40%, shots are falling from somewhere. Beyond the unexpected trio listed above, Patty Mills and Manu Ginobili shot about the timeliest 4-for-7 that I’ve ever seen. Each of their makes seemed to stem the tide of Jazz momentum and could have ultimately been THE vital salvo securing the eventual 2-point victory.
Despite the best efforts of Joe Ingles (who was just about GameShark unstoppable for 6 minutes in the 4th), the Spurs secured Tim Duncan's win number 1000 on the backs of young players like Kyle Anderson (who turned four years old a few weeks before Duncan got win #1 on Halloween, 1997) and Mills, along with comparably-grizzled vets West and Ginobili. Duncan gladly shared the burden after having dragging his team to so many of the the 999.
Tim Duncan just became the third player in @NBA history to reach 1,000 wins! #GoTimmyGo pic.twitter.com/QkwjxRzvUm— San Antonio Spurs (@spurs) April 6, 2016
Assuming he plays, Duncan could potentially extend his tally to 1005 if the Spurs win out, including the prospect of taking two from the Warriors. Nonethless, Duncan became the fastest of the three players to reach the milestone, 62 games before Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and 205 ahead of Robert Parish.
Despite a buzzer beater and one of my favorite highlights of the season
OH MAMA LEONARD TO THE RACK! #NBAVine https://t.co/2yyXCeix7u— NBA (@NBA) April 6, 2016
Kawhi Leonard had an off night. A fine night for most but a below average outing for a top-5 MVP player. He played solid defense on Hayward and got to the line, but ultimately was just a touch off of the level we have come to expect; although it's pretty cool that an off-night for Kawhi includes 18 pts, 8 boards, 2 blocks, and a game winner.
The guy who came up in all the right spots was Manu (with an honorable mention for Kyle Anderson. See below) with 14 unbelievably critical points. Through three quarters (Pop gave all of the 4th quarter minutes to Danny Green), it seemed to be Ginobili who had the answer for every Jazz question. He entered the game with 6 minutes left in 3rd, the Spurs with 50-49 lead. He scored 8 crucial points, had a few assists, and forced a jump ball to stop a layup. He left the game with a 67-53 lead. That’s a 17-4 run. (Which could also have had something to do with the Spurs energy and attitude subs of Patty Mills and David West, and Kyle Anderson actually posted a the top +/- of +21 in 23 minutes).
With 3-5 nights between games, could Manu ACTUALLY play a few more seasons?
81.8 - Percent of games the Spurs have held a lead of at least 10 points (63/77).
66.2 - Percent of games the Spurs have held a lead of at least 15 points (51/77).
24 - Percent the Spurs bench outshot the starters (60 to 36%).
5 - Franchises with fewer wins than Duncan.
0 - Overtime games played this season. Pop has really found a way to control minutes: win in 4 quarters (and often times 3.5).
Human portable rage machine Quin Snyder looks like a cross between Patrick Bateman and Robert Patrick who played T-1000. He had his choice angry moments, but never forget this all-timer from the former Austin Spurs coach.
Basketball will Save Twitter's Valuation:
Between last night's NCAA Twitter and Prime Spurs (then Warriors) NBA Twitter, things should be alright.
HBD, Medium Fundamental!
HAPPY BIRTHDAY, MATT BONNER#NeverForgethttps://t.co/EmQVziXeNT— Caleb Saenz (@calebjsaenz) April 6, 2016
Happy birthday to the guy who has more rings than Durant, Westbrook, Harden and Dwight Howard combined pic.twitter.com/VmszKLXCOy— Quixem Ramirez (@quixem) April 5, 2016
Be careful if you wanted to get Red Mamba swag...it'll cost ya
I should have looked more carefully at this invoice @LukeyBonner sent me for that Matt Bonner jersey. pic.twitter.com/2fwHMAbU0t— RUSS BENGT$ON (@russbengtson) April 5, 2016
Danny Green made it to SLC after UNC loss. Pop: "Big sad look on his face, but he made it. He might not even be capable to play tonight."— Jeff McDonald (@JMcDonald_SAEN) April 6, 2016
...you don't say?
Danny Green with the ... spin move and layup?! Very nice. #Spurs https://t.co/9PWtfms0hJ— J.R. Wilco (@jollyrogerwilco) April 6, 2016
#SHOOTYOURSHOT2016 https://t.co/LITX7vPDDq— Brayden Neubauer (@Braydenominator) April 6, 2016
I still the crossover was more Hardaway than Iverson, but hard to argue with the hair. Congrats AI, loved destroying the court in your shoes in Junior High.
Kawhi has the two best tributes to A.I. in the NBA right now: the braids and this https://t.co/u4BNMScBQD https://t.co/AdZdmWyWe6— Tom Ziller (@teamziller) April 6, 2016
We'll agree to agree that either of those things will be awesome for years.
He's more like a perimeter-oriented, less-heavy, less-ballerina-like Boris Diaw, but that's still pretty solid. https://t.co/xNkQ3nVrSp— Pounding the Rock (@poundingtherock) April 6, 2016
I'm in love with this man. pic.twitter.com/iWpcZlppuT— The Spurs Zone (@TheSpursZone) April 6, 2016
Someone modded NBA 2K16 to include NBA players as cheerleaders (can’t unsee) https://t.co/QHgMQmBwgn pic.twitter.com/68LMGqIGwm— Steve Noah (@Steve_OS) April 6, 2016
Wade, Dirk and Bron as cheerleaders in NBA 2K16, I’m DONE… pic.twitter.com/SsOuIzHqLt— Steve Noah (@Steve_OS) April 6, 2016
I'm like 99.4% sure "death by Joe Ingels" is worse than drowning/immolation/suffocation. https://t.co/VC2fhxDcAZ— Kyle Carpenter (@KyleCarpenter) April 6, 2016
I'll let y'all Google Translate on your own...it does not mean "on fire"
@tonyparker enfoiré— Rudy Gobert (@rudygobert27) April 6, 2016