The Spurs returned home from a three game road trip in hopes of continuing two streaks: 1. A ten-game winning run at the AT&T Center this season, and 2. A 15th straight win in San Antonio against the Nets going back to 2002.
Brooklyn has struggled, but shoots the 2nd most 3-point attempts in the NBA. When they are hot, that will win games. But when those attempts are paired with their 27th ranking in three point shooting percentage, and it’s easy to see why they’re 11th in the Eastern Conference standings.
For the first time this season, the Spurs had their entire roster available. The good guys pulled off the win keeping both the home record shining and Nets fans reeling.
- Kawhi Leonard played some impressive minutes. He made some effortless shots, a slam dunk, a Dr. J style lay-up, and a sick reverse. But biggest of all is that he played in the fourth quarter and totaled 25 minutes of action — enough to put up 21-2-2 on 17 shots. That’s nearly a full-rotation’s worth, and when paired with the recent news that Kawhi is probable for Thursday’s game, things are really looking up for his re-integration with the team.
- LaMarcus Aldridge continued his All-Star campaign. Even with Kawhi on the court, LMA is continuing to show how this Spurs team has gotten this far in 2017. I noticed when Leonard was on the court that Aldridge saw the ball a little less, but was physical under the rim. When Leonard was seated the ball went to Aldridge in the low block more often. Transparent strategy? Maybe, but he is still hard to control even when defenses know exactly where he is going. A one-two Aldridge-Leonard punch may be the overdrive needed in the 2018 portion of the season.
The present of the Spurs offense: KL outside telling everyone to clear out, LMA drawing the double team and passing out for an open Kawhi three. pic.twitter.com/tOZAxcnizX— J.R. Wilco (@jollyrogerwilco) December 27, 2017
- Tuesday night was the first regular season game in 208 days since Aldridge and Leonard each put up 20 points. We could use a lot more of that.
- It cannot be overstated how important Manu Ginobili is to the Spurs. Beyond that, he is playing with no less than everything he’s got. And in his 40th year, his game is still evolving. Being amazed by Ginobili is as redundant as counting the Spurs out only to surprised when they exceed expectations.
- Pau Gasol passed Jack Sikma for 30th all-time in rebounding (10,818). It was part of his double-double last night. Pau also tallied a triple-double this week as well. I say this because I started an Open Thread questioning the 37-year-old Spaniard’s bad week where he scored 4 points in 3 games and shed my own doubts about the future Hall of Famer. I must admit my fair-weatheredness sat poorly. While I don’t think Pau read the piece and decided to personally show me up, I realize his role will vary from game to game and some nights will be better than others. Last night was one of those nights. Mr. Gasol, I apologize. Congratulations on your achievement and I look forward to watching you school other athletic centers half your age.
- Keeping the Brooklyn Nets winless at the AT&T Center is just the latest bit of evidence of the longevity of The System. In the last decade, the Spurs have consistently recruited strong draftees while maintaining their star players. Brooklyn went all in to buy Boston’s 2008 championship leadership and are still suffering to this day. It’s possible that Brooklyn has shifted direction. With the hiring of ex-Spurs front office man Sean Marks as GM, the Nets join the bandwagon of NBA teams trying to get what the Spurs got.
- Gregg Popovich is 1 game from tying George Karl for 5th all-time winningest NBA coach. Popovich has 20 years on the sideline compared to Erik Spoelstra and Rick Carlisle, the 2nd and 3rd longest tenured coaches who are in their 10th season with Miami and Dallas respectively. Every other NBA organization is at least a decade behind San Antonio on building their culture. That’s
- Wednesday brought quite an event: a Tim Duncan sighting. For me, a highlight of attending any Spurs game is when the cameras focus on David Robinson, but only because Big Fun rarely attends. It would great to see Timmy attending more games, but we know he’s already doing his part in the practice gym.
- The Spurs finally have all the pieces in place to do what it is they do so well- play beautiful basketball. It may have been an East coast team with a losing record last night, but the Silver & Black are ready for the season now, and are only 2.5 games back of the division-leading Rockets.