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Spurs Squash (fill in city they play for this year) Hornets

By Michael Erler on November 13, 2007.

Game 6: Spurs 97, Hornets 85

Before I begin, just apologies all around for the lateness of this. I work like crazy from Fridays through Mondays at the bar and I’m usually too exhausted when I come home to do anything. I’ve been pulled over late at night by the cops two nights in a row now, once because they thought I was drunk and speeding and once because they thought I was drunk and had my high beams on against oncoming traffic. I passed their stupid “eyes following the finger” test both times and got two warnings. It’s like the police can’t believe anyone who’s not drunk or retarded can drive this poorly.

Oh also, I’ve caught people doing blow at the bar my last two shifts. That’s not fun. The first time it was in the bathroom when I heard this drunk clumsy guy tell one of our regulars, (who I knew was a cokehead, but not in our bar) “Hey Joaquin, let me go to the bathroom with you.”

I may not be very experienced with drug culture, but I know when two guys are going to the bathroom together it can only be for one of two reasons, and neither are um… appropriate for a bar. So I kicked those guys out. Then last night these two youngsters, guys in their early 20s, were doing it right in front of me at this table, trying to disguise it by having their hands next to this big pile of chalk we use for pool. It wasn’t very subtle, to say the least.

Plus last night I had to entertain my friend Roh (you might remember him from posts last year) and this girl who likes me kept texting me all night when I got home so I couldn’t get anything done.

Anyway, it’s Tuesday now and all of that is behind us, so let’s talk about your Spurs!

So, what about them? I can’t write anything interesting when we’re playing this well, you know that. All I can do is throw out random stats at you like the big three were +33 when they were on the court together and that we put together a 50-20 run between the 7 minute mark of the second quarter and the 2 minute mark of the 3rd, turning a 36-27 deficit into a 77-56 lead. Really, all you need as a barometer of how the night went was that we went into halftime with a 52-45 lead and our team MVP up to this point had a statline of 0 points on 0-5 shooting, 2 rebounds, and 1 assist.

Dude, don’t be so hard on yourself. It’s not like your guys are getting trounced by the Bobcats over here.
(AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

Yes, Opus, who was bothered by a tight quad, did eventually get it going in the 3rd quarter and finished the night with a double-double no less, with 14 points and 10 rebounds, but this night was really our first bread and butter defense and inside domination game of the season. We just killed them in the paint with Timmy and Fab-O and I think Bruce made poor Peja Stojakovic cry he was so inside his jersey all night. Oh, and Tony (yeah, yeah) completely dominated his match-up with the much heralded Chris Paul and I did not see that coming.

Of course, there are quibbles. There are always quibbles. Pop trotted out our first bare ass nekkid line-up in a competitive situation on us for the first three minutes of the 2nd quarter. The quintet of Washington-Udoka-Bowen-Oberto-Elson did every bit as well as you’d guess, but here’s a play-by-play recap, for shits and giggles:

11:40 Elson turnover on a charge against Melvin Ely (remember him?)
10:55 Washington missed a 25 foot three pointer.
10:15 Elson missed a 15 foot jumper.
9:37 Udoka missed lay-up.

Awesome! Pop, buddy, you’re a great coach, but never do that shit again. Alwaysalwaysalways play one of the big three and preferably never have that one be the wee Frenchman. And just in case you thought that at least such a fivesome would at least be a defensive juggernaut, well, they were outscored 6-0 in that three minute stretch. By the Hornets second unit guys. Per 48 minutes that comes out to 96-0. Neat. Well, now that I actually crunched the numbers, I want them to play together, just to see what happens. Sounds like a tantalizing preview for Games 81 and 82.

Four down doesn’t work nearly as well without Timmy on the floor, Pop. I love the looks on the faces of Fin and Chip Engelland like, “How the hell does the crazy bastard think this shit is gonna work?”
(Photo by Layne Murdoch/NBAE/Getty Images)

I know coach is always thinking a million steps ahead of me and that he was probably looking to experiment with combinations in the event of an injury to one of the big three, but good God, that was awful. I believe before the season started I wrote something like Bruce and Ime should never play together unless we are willfully trying to kill the NBA, and now you see why. Just like how having one scorer makes the rest of your guys look collectively better, having no scorers makes them all look worse. Ask the Chicago Bulls about it.

Oh, and even though one could argue that it worked, going +7 in a 2:30 stretch with a Washington-Parker backcourt, I must say that I’m not a fan of that. I hate tiny backcourts. I hated them last year whenever we used any combination of Tony/Vaughn/Udrih together, and I still hate it now. It just looks stupid and unsightly, the same as playing Bruce and Ime together or Elson and Oberto together, which we also did plenty of this game. Besides, I think the success of that line-up had more to do with Timmy being in it than Darius.

Speaking of Timmy, the big fella finally had his first dominant night of the young season, repeatedly abusing Tyson Chandler, who’s probably the second best defensive center in the conference (if we’re sticking to the farce that Duncan is a PF) behind Marcus Camby. He went 11 of 14 from the field, scoring in all manner of ways, and even made his first two bankers from the left elbow of the season, his signature shot having deserted him up that point. He also had 12 boards and 4 blocks in 36 minutes. It sounds obvious and redundant, but we are very, very hard to beat when Duncan plays that well.

However, Tony was just as huge in his own right. That he outscored Paul 27-18 shouldn’t surprise anyone, but outassisting him 8-7 was a jaw-dropper for me. He’s really been passing it well the last few games, not just finding guys camped out at the three point line like usual but also being more conscientious about looking for Oberto in his comfort spots as well. He doesn’t go for the spectacular highlight passes much like Manu does, but he looks very aware these days of what’s going on around him on the floor. The guy gets enough highlights as it with his usual assortment of twisting, gyrating, contortionist lay-ups, the little freak.

Just another routine lay-in for Tony.
(Photo by Layne Murdoch/NBAE/Getty Images)

Finally, I just wanted to mention Bruce real quick. Obviously he didn’t do much on offense, but he rarely has to. He so thoroughly shut down Stojakovic, who’s not as nimble and gifted as your Kobes and T-Macs, that Hornets coach Byron Scott basically threw the towel on that match-up and said “No mas” late into the 3rd quarter. Peja only played 25 minutes and was 1 of 6, the one basket being a lay-up off an offensive board. If you can’t create your own shot, you have no chance against a guy like Bowen when he’s on his game unless you have a precision offensive scheme and excellent screeners, and the Hornets offense isn’t nearly that developed as say Indiana’s was in Reggie Miller’s heyday. Bruce really struggled defensively for the first third of last season, even getting toasted by the likes of Adam Morrison in a home game last November, but he looks locked in right off the bat this year.

Frankly, I think the Hornets are an up-and-coming team and if they can stay healthy, which they’ve had difficulty doing in the past, I can easily see them challenging the Nuggets for the 6th seed in the West (the first five, in my mind, are pretty set). That we dismantled them so thoroughly and easily, on the road no less, is kind of alarming. We’re really good when we want to be and outside of that hiccup at Houston, the guys look focused and hungry, very strange for this early in the season. We’ll know more after this weekend.

This will hurt in 1.3 seconds.
(AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

Your 3 Stars… (with apologies to Fabricio..)

3. Bruce Bowen
– Peja might wrench his back again having nightmares about Mr. Potatohead.
2. Tim Duncan – It’s not very often he’ll have a night like that and have to settle for #2 status, but…
1. Manu Tony Parker – Sorry I was just getting used to jotting that other name down in the one spot every game. Tony was fantastic and showed that he’s not about to surrender his All-Star spot to Paul without a fight.

Record: 5-1
Up Next: Vs. Milwaukee Bucks

Um… we kicked their ugly smelly asses. Recap coming on PtR.

Up Next For Reals: Vs. Los Angeles Lakers

Kobe hasn’t been traded yet, I don’t think. Wait, lemme check ::checks:: Nope, I think he’s playing. Now this is a legitimate test for Bruce. Unfortunately for LA, the rest of their team is a legitimate test for the Sonics.

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