Here’s what Gregg Popovich had to say about Sunday’s loss to the Hawks, “It was a great game. It was a good win for those guys. It would have been a good win for us. I thought both teams played pretty well.” When San Antonio plays teams coached by Pop’s former assistants, every result must dial up some pretty mixed emotions. The Spurs didn’t prevail in Atlanta, but we can still marvel at some excellent basketball.
The first basket of the game comes as Danny Green drives and kicks the ball to LaMarcus Aldridge who makes his move. As he draws three defenders, he passes to the open Pau Gasol who hits a wide open three.
Here David Lee feeds Kawhi Leonard in the post. Thabo Sefolosha tries to deny the pass and finds himself out of position as Kawhi spins baseline, drives and makes a difficult reverse lay up around Dwight Howard.
Kyle Anderson works his way to the paint and passes to Lee, who starts right and spins into a pretty left handed banker.
This play has so many moving parts it is fun to enjoy over and over. As Lee begins the play at the three point line, Jonathon Simmons and Patty Mills take off and cross to each other’s positions on the court while LaMarcus Aldridge clears the lane. While all of that is taking place, Manu receives the ball, drives around a screen from Lee and shoots the crease to the hoop. Notice how as Manu drives, he extends his arms to fake a pass, which forces Mike Muscala to raise his arms and elevate, slowing him down as Manu continues his drive and, with a tiny gap enabled by his fake, finish the drive with a lefty layup.
With the clock winding down, Tony Parker makes a clutch leaning jumper. Tony had a very respectable night on the dance floor.
With :03.9 seconds left in the game, the Spurs inbound the ball with a chance to tie or win. Although this play was not successful, Kawhi nearly extended the game into a second overtime.
It was a game that felt like a roller coaster ride. Up, down with twists and turns every which way. Next up is at home against Toronto, Tuesday night.