San Antonio recovered from its late collapse against Houston two nights ago by executing consistently in the halfcourt behind LaMarcus Aldridge (48 points on 20 for 31 shooting, 13 rebounds, and 6 assists) and DeMar DeRozan (16 points and 11 assists) to give a short-handed Boston Celtics team its worst home loss of the season. Boston has now been outscored 133-93 in its last four 4th quarters.
- During the pregame interview with Celtics coach Brad Stevens, he complimented San Antonio’s second unit by sharing “the bench comes in and flying around like the ‘13-’14 Spurs.”
- In an entertaining first quarter, San Antonio made a concerted effort to get LaMarcus Aldridge involved early and often and he responded positively with a variety of jumpers demonstrating his midrange prowess - notching 17 of his team’s first 24 points, while Marcus Morris, in the absence of Jayson Tatum and Al Horford, countered with four makes of his own. Jakob Poeltl extended Spurs possessions via tapbacks to himself and teammates. Marco Belinelli and Patty Mills came in and hit three pointers respectively. After the teams traded baskets, the Spurs left the period up 31-24 on 54% shooting.
- Gordon Hayward got his second putback on a Boston miss to start the period and anchored the Boston second unit by looking more for his shot. DeMar DeRozan’s first field goal came four minutes into the period on a stepback jumper. Aldridge returned halfway through the quarter and DeRozan immediately found him for yet another patented jumper to push the San Antonio lead out to 12. 6’3” Smart posted up 6’2” Bryn Forbes to draw free throws and somewhere rec league players smiled on the inside. Kyrie Irving connected on a stepback jumper over Bertans and Derrick White, which caused Pop to call timeout to discuss pick-and-roll. coverage. DeRozan beautifully paired a leaning jumper over Morris with a block on a Hayward floater on the other end. After several fruitless Spurs possessions, San Antonio went into the half with a 54-47 advantage behind Aldridge’s 25 point outburst and DeRozan’s six assists, while Morris and Hayward paced the Celtics.
- Boston missed its first six shots in the third quarter, while Aldridge continued to pepper his shot chart with jumpers from numerous spots. Later, Celtics attempted to double Aldridge and he found a cutting Poeltl for a layup. Kyrie Irving hit from distance for the first time midway through the quarter, which apparently was significant as Boston had missed 32 of its last 35 three point attempts. As the Celtics scrambled to defend Aldridge, DeRozan started heating up from the perimeter. Daniel Theis was the fortunate recipient of several Irving feeds for dunks and layups. Behind Aldridge’s 36 points and DeRozan’s nine assists, San Antonio left the third with up 84-72.
- Mills ran excellent give-and-go plays with Gay and Aldridge on consecutive possessions to convert acrobatic layups in traffic to start the fourth. Aldridge connected on several increasingly harder fadeaways to push the lead out. San Antonio channeled its inner Rockets with a barrage of perimeter shots - with Bertans contributing 3 three’s of his own and Aldridge added one of his own to boot to make it 106-81.
- MCL (Marco’s Crazy Leaners) Count: 2. The first one came in the opening stanza to push the Spurs lead to six, while the second make came later in the half as a floater in the left lane after two offensive rebounds.
- Hammer Play: San Antonio executed the hammer portion off of Rudy Gay’s baseline sling, but Davis Bertans failed to convert the corner three in the second quarter.
- I enjoy the Celtics’ League Pass broadcasts mainly to hear Tom Heinsohn wax poetic about his expansive NBA knowledge, unabashed homerism, and barstool banter with his partner. During a Rozier turnover, the Boston play-by-play analyst commented “that was a miscommunication there” and Heinson retorted “I remember Miss Communication - she was in one of my classes.”
- Bob Ryan, long-time columnist for the Boston Globe, started his weekly NBA roundup today with this assertion about the Celtics: “Your/our local professional basketball team is the single most disappointing team in the NBA this season. There is no way around it.” Conversely, he ends the article with “Check out the San Antonio Spurs. This may be the most amazing coaching job Gregg Popovich has ever done. In the current hierarchy of NBA coaches you start with him and then draw a line (I guess that’s not exactly an original thought, huh?).”
- My #ManuMoments: During the Spurs’ 110-82 2003 WCSF game 6 road drubbing of the Lakers, and after Shaq brought his team to within 12 in the fourth quarter, Tom Tolbert asked ‘how are the Spurs, at some point during this fourth quarter (the Lakers are gonna make a run whether it’s a 7-0, 6-0 run) how are they going to handle that?’ - to which Ginobili (5:05 mark of the video) crossed up Kobe on a high pick and roll and then in, only in what I can describe as an exaggerated Eurostep that covered about 15 square feet of space, also crossed up Shaq to lay the ball in and start the game-ending run to end the series. The second moment, which occurred during the 2005 WCF game 2 win against Phoenix, involved Manu (3:00 mark of the video) sizing up defensive whiz Shawn Marion late in the shotclock and deciding to a) cross it over to his left hand, b) advance with a behind the back dribble, and c) finishing at the rim with an impossible lefty reverse with Marion draped all over him.
- Playoff Seeding Watch: The Los Angeles Clippers defeated the New York Knicks on the road 124-113 earlier today to ascend to the fifth seed.
San Antonio concludes its three game road trip Tuesday evening in Charlotte against Kemba Walker, Tony Parker, and the Charlotte Hornets at 6:00 PM CDT. This time, Tony must not dominate Fisher for our playoff positioning sake. Then, the #GraciasManu game against Kevin Love and the Cleveland Cavaliers happens two nights later at 7:30 PM CDT.