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Lurching to the Finish, A Sloppy Account of Games 81 and 82

By Michael Erler on April 20, 2007.

God, what a depressing week it’s been. First the Imus thing, then the Virginia Tech killings.

Are you like me? Did you see the picture of the killer on one of the news shows and think to yourself, “HEY! I think I went to high school with that guy!”

What, too soon?

Yeah, I’m quite proud of that joke, thanks. These are the times when I’m glad I don’t believe in hell.

Speaking of hell, thank God the infernal regular season is finally past us. If I had to watch Melvin Ely post up Stromile Swift or Steve Blake zoom by the Bean Burrito one more time, I’d have defenestrated my television. Thanks to Joey Crawford’s power trip in Dallas – hope it was worth it, dickhead – our last two games were utterly devoid of meaning. I know it’s cliché to say that the entire regular season is meaningless in basketball, (and hockey) but I dare anyone to watch a Spurs-Suns game in the middle of the season and then watch the dreck we were subjected to the past two games and explain to me how the two have any similarities at all.

Maybe it’s a sickness of mine, and I certainly understand that I’m in the minority, but I really enjoy watching regular season Spurs games when they care.* “But Aaron,” you’re asking, with your doe eyes and your bushy tail, “Doesn’t every Spur care deeply about their play every second on the floor, except for Robert Horry?”

(Even you, sweet, naive, idealistic you can’t pretend anymore with RoHo)…

Yes, it’s true. Almost all the Spurs do care. Unfortunately, as we saw demonstrated to us quite clearly these past two games, the majority of the Spurs also suck, and suck hard.

Caring < Sucking

Tim and Tony look upon anxiously at the eye in the sky. Manu Ginobili, however, fears nothing.

* i.e. when Manu plays.

Anyway, let’s just get through this together as quickly and painless as possible, like removing a band aid or manscaping. Hopefully no one here will have to experience the former as a result of the latter.

Game 81 @ Memphis: Grizzlies 101, Spurs 91

Let me put it this way. We lost by double digits to the team with the worst record in the NBA. We let them shoot 53% from the floor and 50% from the three point line. We never led and our last tie score was 2-2.

And this was our good performance of the last two.

Your starting line up: Elson-Butler-Bowen-White-Vaughn. I’ve been on Pop’s ass all year to play just one center and now, when only the lunatics are watching, he starts two. The man is openly taunting me.

The Positives:

Jackie Butler – had 12 and 10 in 28 minutes, and in my mind the ten boards was much more of a stunner than the points. We signed the guy knowing he could score. He’s definitely got the best low post game of any center on the roster (not counting Timmy as a center). It’s a shame we couldn’t get this guy on board with the program until it was too late. Still, this could be a bright spot going into ’07. Elson and Oberto aren’t exactly long term solutions. If we can get Jackie to not spend his whole off-season eating, we might have something here.

James White – played 39 minutes, scored 17 points, and sank several jumpers with that hideous, flat shot of his. Somewhat disappointingly, he didn’t get to the line at all, but the bottom line is that he wasn’t scared and the dude looks like an NBA player. I expect him to be in our rotation next year, and I’m sure I’ll be bitching about his shortcomings by December.

Matt Bonner – had 10 and 10 in 24 minutes and actually finished a +3. I wonder if he’ll be a part of Pop’s rotation in the playoffs.

Michael Finley – was 7 of 11 for 17 points as our only legitimate offensive threat for long stretches. Let’s just say he didn’t seem particularly concerned with his defense today.

Good FT shooting – 11 of 12 for the game, highlighted by Bonner’s 4-4.

Great 3 Point shooting – 8 of 15. 3-3 for Fin, and Beno & Horry each stuck a couple.

Robert Horry – looked pretty spry out there, probably realizing that he’s got to show Pop something if he wants to be the first big man off the bench. RoHo’s best moment came early in the third. Pau Gasol, this giant dork who’s supposed to be some kind of star, hit a half court prayer right before half to extend Memphis’ lead to 13 and celebrated like some lunatic, sticking his arms out like an air-o-plane like Jason Terry does. Fresh off that euphoric moment the Spaniard tried to take a jumper right in Robert’s mug the first time he touched it in the second half and Horry promptly smacked it ten feet into the air.

Bruce Bowen – extended his starting streak, played 14 minutes and didn’t exactly over-exert himself.

Finally, Beno Udrih, in what might have been the penultimate big minute game for him as a Spur, finished with 12 and 9 and led a spirited 4th quarter comeback that fell just short.

Dancing With the Stars meets Blades of Glory.

The Negatives:

Defense – Everyone sucked, across the board. Everyone. All that funneling business works a lot better when Timmy’s back there to funnel to. We couldn’t even be bothered to defend jump shots. Just awful.

Jacque Vaughn – Wasn’t exactly into it today. Crappy shooting and crappier shot selection. Not exactly husslerific.

Francisco Elson – Two early travels and 1 of 6 from the floor. He looked offended even being asked to play.

Brent Barry – Yahoo said he was “DNP – Tummy Ache.” I love being a Spurs fan.

Melvin Ely – 0 of 5. Yuck. – I spent the whole game engaged in some dumb flame war. Why do I ever go there?

Whatever, we lost. The ironic thing is that as badly as we played, if Memphis was still in a neck and neck situation for the worst record, they would have let us beat them in the end. I don’t know if they’d “accidentally” turn it over a few too many times or let us go to the rim at will, but the timing of the game had more to do with the result than anything else.

Some Grizzlies couldn’t wait to get the fuck out of here.

Your 3 Stars

3. James White – Ignoring team worst -18.
2. Jackie Butler Ditto Butler’s -11. Still can’t guard anybody.
1. Beno Udrih 12, 9 and team best + 4. 1st star, just for old time’s sake.

Alright, now the complete turdfest. Our last game just happened to be against our first round opponents, the Nugs (preview coming tomorrow) so neither coach was about to show the other one anything. No le grand trois for us, no A.I. or ‘Melo for them. It’s unlucky for the fans, really. I think if we were playing anyone else our guys would have gotten at least a few token minutes just to get their blood flowing and give the fans a little somethin’. Alas.

Game 82 (Christ, finally) vs. Denver: Nuggets 100, Spurs 77

Ironically, I remember even less about this one than the Memphis game. We were so putrid I’ve blocked it out completely. I was much more concerned about the Warriors, Sharks, and even the San Francisco Giants. Plus, I was in another stupid flame war on Spurstalk. I should really knock that shit out. Maybe I’ll go watch our playoff games in the lounge downstairs like I did two years ago and avoid the computer altogether. Or I’ll just try to coerce Matthew into chatting during them. (Fat chance).

God forbid we let this genuis take a sneak peek at the big three out on the court for five minutes.


Francisco Elson – 8 points and 2 blocks in 10 minutes. Methinks somebody was threatened to spend the playoffs watching Michael Finley play. He might be all that stands between us and tinyball.

Jackie Butler – 10 and 9 in 28 minutes. Intriguing. I imagine the front office is praying that Oberto doesn’t cash in his player’s option for ’07.

Ooh, speaking of which, biggest positive of all, by far…

Fabricio Oberto – Still with us. Kinda had a scary heart situation the day of the game and needed emergency surgery. Pop thinks he’ll be okay, but I have no idea what his status is for Game 1. I don’t think it’s a long term thing, but with a heart, you can’t be too careful. In regards to ’07, maybe Pop’ll lay it out for Fab this way… “It’s your contract, you can come back if you want, but I won’t promise to even dress you.” Or maybe the guy will be a playoff hero against Phoenix and Dallas and I’m a huge asshole. God, that’d be awesome.

Melvin Ely – 11 and 7 in 25 minutes. I imagine any game he’s in uniform these next two months would relate directly to the previous paragraph. Nice knowin’ you, Melvin.

Beno Udrih – Led the team with 13 points in what’s almost surely his last non-garbage time action for us. Then again, the whole game was garbage time. I’d be shocked if he was a Spur in ’07. It just never worked out for Beno here. I’ve heard some depressing stories about his laziness and attitude and it’s almost impossible to defend him at this point. I will say that I think Pop totally fucked him last year, but this year it’s all on Beno. He’s got no one to blame but himself. Maybe he just didn’t see the point in trying hard or practicing hard when he was never going to beat out Tony for the starting job.

Pop’s gonna have to find a new whipping boy.

The Negatives:

Bruce Bowen – Started, played four minutes, hardly moved and sat down. Really stretching this starting streak thing too far. Either play the game or don’t. Kinda bush league if you ask me.

Brent Barry – Returned from his tummy ache and shot a miserable 1 of 7. He’s picked a bad time to be slumping. April was by far his worst month of the season.

Matt Bonner – 4 and 3 in 26 minutes. 2 of 10 from the floor. Ugh.

James White – When your jumper has the arc of a Shaq O’Neal free throw, those 3 of 11 nights will be much more frequent than those 8 of 14 nights. Coach Chip has his work cut out for him with this guy.

Everything – We got dominated by a team that shot 5 of 16 from the FT line. They outshot us 49% to 35%, made 11 of 26 threes to our 5 of 20, has 16 more rebounds and 14 more assists. We let the Nutgrabber have 19 and 20. It was an embarrassing, disgraceful showing, regardless of who we had out there. No one had any pride at all. If I paid good money for the game, I’d have been pissed, quite frankly. Even the coaches openly admitted to not caring. Maybe the Fabricio thing shook the whole team too much to even pretend in this one.

“What do you mean, ‘Who do I got, coach?’ Listen… what’s your name again? Jay? Jamie? Whatever it is. It’s the last game of the season. I’m completely wasted. I don’t care who your man is. It’s not like you can guard him anyway. Just run, jump, maybe do one of those oop things the people like. Just don’t get hurt and don’t hurt anyone else, okay? I’m gonna sit down now. From now on, if you need something, go ask P.J.”

Your 3 Stars (such as they were)

3. Jackie Butler – Hoping we see a lot more from him – but not of him – next year.
2. Fabricio Oberto – Here’s to a speedy recovery.
1. Us, the fans – This game was rough, even as background noise. Screw you, Simmons, Duncan was the MVP.

Finally, I heard something today, about baseball, that really made me laugh. Sadly, Seattle Mariner phenom Felix Hernandez hurt his elbow last night and it didn’t look good. It’s a real shame for a kid who looked like he might be on his way to a Cy Young this year, his stuff is so amazing. When asked about his condition, his manager, Mike Hargrove, replied, “I think Felix is going to be okay, but I have nothing to base that on.”

Think about that. Hargrove knows he has to sound optimistic. He knows he has to outright lie basically. His owner and GM demand it of him on a daily basis. But he’s too proud to fully commit to it. So he gives the greatest wink wink quote in baseball history.

I think that is the perfect way to sum up our regular season and our playoff prospects. I think we’ll be okay, but I have nothing to base that on.

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  1. Anonymous April 20, 2007

    dude… kudos on the captioning. I gave someone some shit about their captions at PtR a while back… that might have been you. I dunno… and don’t care enough to look it up. Either way, much improved.


  2. Colonel D. Williams (Ret.) April 21, 2007

    I know its easier to get excited about James White, but Butler shows a lot of promise.

    Like last year when Pop played a lineup we had little experience with (small ball), I could see Pop do something similarly odd like giving Butler or White some minutes in a desperate stetch, but I have nothing to base that on.


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