Another Eastern Conference cellar-dweller, another game that the Spurs made more difficult that it had to be. That being said, it was a fitting end to a night that is meant to honor Manu Ginobili. The Spurs followed a poor first half with a frantic second half, complete with exiting moments, big shots, some blocks, and good passing for the 116-110 win over the Cleveland Cavaliers.
DeMar DeRozan had 25 points and 8 assists for the Spurs on 10-12 from the field, and rookie Collin Sexton had 24 points.
- For the first time since he got burned after falling asleep in the sun 12 days ago, Jakob Poeltl was t-shirtless for tonight’s game, and he was still pretty red. That must have been one heck of a sunburn, and I imagine he still has another week of applying aloe vera to go.
- As a second-year player who might as well be a rookie in the refs’ eyes, Derrick White still suffers from his share of iffy foul calls. He drew three fouls in just 5 first-half minutes, two of which were questionable at best, if not no-calls. It will be interesting to see if some of those whistles start disappearing next season when he’s more known and has an established reputation as an elite defender.
- In the first half, Bryn Forbes, Patty Mills and Marco Belinelli — some of only a handful of players on the team who have played extended minutes with Manu — were feeding off the Grandpa Juice energy in the building, but no one else was. Those three combined for 28 of the Spurs’ 44 first-half points, while the rest of the team was a pathetic 7-20 from the field while playing with little energy or urgency.
- You know Pop’s getting desperate to find something that works when he puts Dante Cunningham in. He got 4 minutes in the second quarter, and after missing an open corner three and two bunny layups, he was then and replaced by Lonnie Walker IV for the remaining two minutes before halftime.
- Sexton was the beast I remember him being under Avery Johnson at Alabama and didn’t miss his a shot until the second half. He’s been overshadowed by Luka Doncic and Trae Young in the ROY conversation, but he has a promising future ahead of him.
- DeRozan, who paid homage to Manu with a pair of Argentina-themed sky blue and gold Nikes, realized it was time to wake up and play like this game mattered not only for Manu, but in the standings as well. He picked up the starters’ energy instantly by attacking the basket and scoring 17 points in the third quarter to lead them back from 11 down to up 3 heading into the fourth quarter.
- After a back-and-forth fourth quarter, Mills made his homage to Manu with a huge corner three to make it a 4-point game with 13.5 sec left. I haven’t seen him celebrate a shot so hard since his third-quarter three in Game 5 of the 2014 Finals. It should also be noted it came via an assist from DeRozan, who made the right decision with the ball in the clutch. How about that?
- Belinelli couldn’t have been more Manu-esque in this game. Drives and cuts to the rim, lefty lay-ups, floaters — he had it all going. I can’t wait for Charlie Thaddeus’ Marco Watch tomorrow.
- In typical Tim Duncan fashion, his attire for tonight’s event was jeans, a cap, and a baseball-style tee with gaucho Manu from the “Texas Showdown” H-E-B commercial (which I can’t find anywhere). Never change, Timmy. (Update: He did add a sports coat for the ceremony.)
For the Cavs fans’ perspective, visit Fear the Sword.
The Spurs will be back in the AT&T Center on Sunday to take on the Sacramento Kings. Tip-off will be at 6:00 PM CT.