This season has been a bit of a roller coaster ride for San Antonio. After getting run out of the gym by the Pelicans on Thanksgiving Eve, Gregg Popovich’s team delivered one of their most dominant games of the season.
After a sluggish first quarter where the two teams combined for 29 points, the Spurs turned it on in the second and cruised into halftime with a double digit lead that was never relinquished. Offensively the Spurs were as efficient as we’ve seen this season. With 6 players in double digits, and every player on the team either logging an assist or a bucket, the Spurs showed us a brief glimpse of what they're capable of when they execute.
Defensively the good guys forced some Hornets into some poor shooting. Charlotte is in desperate need of another playmaker to put beside their star, Kemba Walker. It was a complete win Saturday night, and hopefully our guys can find a way to build off of it. Here are a few takeaways from game number 19.
- The speed that Kyle Anderson plays the game is astonishing. Not since Brad Miller have I seen a guy, who appears to move a good second slower than his defender, get to the rim at ease or break the defense down and find the open man. He’s flashed his offensive potential a few times in his 3 years in San Antonio, but what hasn’t been talked about enough is his growth as a defender. The former UCLA Bruin has done a fantastic job this season using his length to cut off passing lanes and attack the glass. What also stands out is his timing. Lacking the explosiveness to lock his defender down, he compensates with his positioning which is something he struggled with his first few years in the league. SlowMo is a rare breed in the NBA, and for the first time in his career, I can honestly say I love seeing that dude in a Spurs jersey.
- This was one of those games where I felt like Aldridge did a good job of stepping in when needed. Facing an inferior front court, LA could have dropped 30 on Charlotte Saturday night. Instead he played within the offense and delivered yet another steady performance. This is the LaMarcus Aldridge the Spurs need in April and May.
- Gasol on the other hand realized he had a mismatch on the low block, and although he had some productive stretches on the court, the veteran Spaniard pressed a few possessions and took some ill advised shots in the second half. Overall, it was a strong showing from the big man and he’s been a big reason why the Spurs have kept their heads above water in the absence of Kawhi Leonard.
- Despite a mediocre stat line, Danny Green was very active on the floor, and quietly put together one of his best defensive games of the season. The former Tar Heel is in the midst of what might be his best season of his 8-year career. What’s intriguing is he should benefit the most when Leonard and Parker return to the floor, as he will no longer have to create his own shot on the majority of his scoring opportunities.
- Rudy Gay looked much better against the Hornets than he has in his past few outings. After such a strong start to the season, the 11 year vet has gone through a minor slump the past two weeks. Saturday night he finally looked comfortable again on the floor. Coming off of a gruesome Achilles injury and adjusting to a completely new role off the bench, it was expected for Gay to have some highs and lows this season. What will be important going forward is for his confidence to not waver and, for him to stay aggressive offensively. The Spurs will need his fire power come playoff time.
- As for the rest of the backcourt, I thought Manu Ginobili, Dejounte Murray, and Patty Mills all performed well. The trio kept the turnovers down and ran the offense admirably. When the front court combines for 63 points, you don’t need anything spectacular from the guard play; just steadiness.