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Madge Outspur Spurs, Mix In Some Dunks Just For Kicks

By Michael Erler on January 13, 2009.

Let’s see you make a three with Tim riding you like a pony, you cocky shit.

(Photo by D. Clarke Evans/NBAE via Getty Images)

This might be a little too much information about me, but for various reasons, the girlfriend and I, had our first sexual tryst in about two weeks Sunday night. In the, uh, afterglow, I asked her, embarrassed, “That went bad, didn’t it?”

“Well, it wasn’t good,” she replied, brutally honest as always.

And that pretty much sums up the Spurs performance against the Madge. It wasn’t good.

Dammit, this always happens when I hype this team up. They immediately shit the bed their next game. Two weeks ago I told Manoli after the team won the game on Phoenix on Mason’s buzzer beater that they’d probably go on a ten game winning streak. Shortly thereafter, they lost to the lowly Bucks – at home. They can’t seem to string more than four or five wins together, and that, in and of itself, isn’t the worst thing in the world, but the frustrating part is that they can’t seem to beat anybody who’s actually any good.

What are their best wins so far? The Suns game on Christmas? The one at Dallas? It’s not a very long list. The game was so dispiriting, despite my obvious elation about the Eagles game earlier in the day, that I even took the time to re-read my last recap, just to evaluate if I was too effusive in my praise of the team to this point of the season. I mean, honestly, even though it might seem like integrity in a sports blogger is about as useful as an asshole on an elbow, I do kinda value my reputation as a Spurs commentator and I don’t want anyone in the world to think of me as the Dave Spadaro of the Spurs.

Spadaro, you see, is this fellow who is, by far, my single least favorite thing about the Eagles organization. He is basically, a flak, a tool, a PR spin doctor employed by the team (to the point of them giving him an NFC Championship ring after the ’04 season) masquerading as a “journalist” who always sees the silver cloud no matter how badly the team flubs a game, a draft pick, a free agent signing, whatever. He is to the Eagles what Scott McClellan was to the Bush administration. Every training camp, he talks up some schmoe like he’s going to be some Pro-Bowler. This year it was running back Lorenzo Booker, whom Mr. Spadaro practically promised would be the second coming of Thurman Thomas in July. Booker, it turned out, could never catch or block; pretty important requirements of a running back in the Eagles’ offense, and has thusly been on the inactive list for the majority of the season. He has about as much of a chance of making a contribution in our next playoff game as I do. It’d be one thing if Spuds was always optimistic and sunny about everyone and everything, but what really bothers me about him is how cold and dismissive he is about the same guys he gushed about once they leave the organization. No matter who gets cut, or traded, or leaves in free agency, Spadaro always acts like the guy wasn’t a big loss, was on the decline, was overrated, etc. I hate that about him.

Anyway, I really don’t want to be that guy. Yet, I find myself in a position of having to be a homer, or at least a strong advocate of the Spurs, just to counterbalance the pharmacist’s overwhelming negativity. Seriously Matthew, at this point you’re like an honorary Eagles fan. It’s weird, the contrast between the attitudes on the two Spurs blogs I choose to rut with. I am, above and beyond, the most negative guy on Spursdynasty, yet I’m the cheeriest on PtR. Meanwhile, on Spurstalk.com, which I frequent often, I’m probably in the middle somewhere.

I guess what I’m trying to say is that I’ll have to be more careful in what I write in the future so don’t sound like a total dipshit. I obviously have my biases, but there have always been certain guys I’ve been critical of. Horry and Finley being the two that immediately come to mind. And Tony, of course, because let’s face it, Tony Parker sucks and he’s the sole reason Manu doesn’t average 30 points and 10 assists a game. This year, I’ve seen the folly of my past ways and have decided to stop ripping Pop, thereby depriving me (and therefore, all of you) of 40% of my funniest material. Also, they finally got rid of Horry (there goes another 20%). Now all I have left to rip on is Fin and Bruce Bowen.

Oh that reminds me: Bruce Bowen is terrible. Like seriously, he is the second least valuable guy on our 14 man roster, after the JV. With Manu back and Udoka still on the roster, why Bowen isn’t getting a steady stream of DNP-CDs is beyond me. Even Manu hinted in his column in the Argentina papers that Bruce has pretty much lost it, writing that Mason has taken most of his minutes because “Bruce cannot play forever.” I’m sure that’ll go over well in the locker room. I have to admit, that was kind of a dumb thing of Manu to do. He probably shouldn’t be writing immediately after frustrating losses. It took me a couple years to figure that out.

Anyway, as far as the game goes, I liked very little of what I saw. We settled for way too many long two point jumpshots, too many contested shots in general. That’s pretty rare for us. Usually the Spurs take more open shots than just about any team in the league. Orlando wasn’t doing anything special or unusual defensively, outside of not double-teaming Tim, and even though that limited our three point opportunities, the team still didn’t do a very good job of moving the ball, cutting, just looking for good shots in general. The team just played lazy basketball, basically, and there was no excuse for it. They had plenty of rest and they weren’t playing against exactly the most capable or committed group of defensive players. The laziness extended to the defensive end as well as we gave Orlando way too many open looks at three, even on the shots they missed, and they really didn’t have to work very hard for their open shots. By my count of the 14 threes they made, only two, maybe three, were the byproducts of good offensive execution and good ball movement by the Magic. The rest were all very preventable and just guys overplaying the drive, not fighting through screens, blowing assignments, what have you.

I kept track of the makes, and as you can see we can’t really pinpoint the blame on one or two guys. Pretty much everybody screwed up once or twice (or thrice) and were victimized by Orlando’s many shooters.

Nelson 1 – Parker

Lewis 1 – Bonner

Johnson 1 – Nobody

Reddick 1 – Mason

Turkoglu 1 – Bowen

Reddick 2 – Mason

Lee 1 – Ginobili

Nelson 2 – Ginobili

Turkoglu 2 – Finley

Reddick 3 – Hill

Bogans 2 – Parker

Lewis 2 – Ginobili

Reddick 4 – Mason

Nelson 3 – Parker

I’m gonna take a wild guess that three point defense will be the emphasis of Pop’s video review before the Lakers game.

Individually, the only guys I liked were Thomas, Finley, Duncan and Hill, in that order. Thomas should’ve definitely played more, and with Tim, but Pop was too worried about Orlando’s small lineup, I guess. Duncan started the game on fire and finished well, but was MIA during the middle two quarters. Manu, I could forgive if his only fault was crappy three point shooting or the four turnovers, but he had both, plus he was among the leading defensive culprits for all those Orlando threes, so I’d have to say he played a sub-par game. I still disagree with him that he’s not being as daring or as explosive as he used to be. Four of his five baskets were layups and he either missed or had blocked another three attempts inside. Manu is conveniently forgetting that there were plenty of games last season where he made maybe one or two layups the whole game, but was still scoring 25 or 30 or whatever just because he was hitting so many threes. Sorry, but for my money Gino is going to the basket as often, if not more so, as he has the past few years. He’s just not dunking.

Speaking of that, here’s your stat of the day: The Spurs are dead last in the NBA in dunks, with 27. The next closest is Indiana. With 61. Tim is the team leader with 14, which is good for 94th. And before you think, “Well this is no big deal, it just probably means they get a lot of layups.” Au contraire, mon frere. The team is also averaging only 25.2 inside points a game, also dead last. They rank, you guessed it, 30th and last in free throw attempts per game, and just to show that this is not a stat based on their slow pace of play, are also 30th and last in percentage of their shots where they’re fouled, at 9%. They’re second to last in And-1s. They’re even 26th in team rebounding, an area they’ve usually dominated in the past.

In other words, “Live by the three, die by the three.” We’re like a very slow, unathletic version of the D’Antoni Suns, except without all those pesky Amare dunks. And we play better defense. Usually.

So how do we keep winning 2/3 of our games? Well, like I said, our offense does usually get a lot of open shots (another reason we don’t get fouled much) and it helps to have three of the best 30 players in the world. Although to hear Manu tell it, he thinks he sucks right now. Someone asked him if he’s eager to show the Lakers “the real Manu Ginobili” after being so limited in the playoffs last year, and he responded, “Well I haven’t shown the other 28 teams much so far.”

Ouch.

The guy I was most unhappy with though, and I swear I’m not joking, was Tony. His numbers were good the first three quarters, but even then, he wasn’t really playing as well as it seemed, settling for way too many long twos. I fear Parker will never understand, nor will his adoring fans at Spurstalk, that even when the shots are made, long twos are a “win” for the defense. Outside of a turnover, a long two is really the best shot the defense can force. As far as his point guard skills went, it got progressively worse. He started well, with four assists in the first quarter, then had two more in the second, and then… none in the second half.

And let’s not beat around the bush here. Tony was absolute crap in the fourth quarter, which is strange, because as much shit as I’ve given him for not being clutch in the past, he has admittedly been our best player so far this season in fourth quarters. He was awful in the fourth against Orlando, and the lowlight wasn’t the missed baseline runner or the missed layup late. No, the real beauty was when he stepped in front of Manu just when Mason was set to pass him the ball, waved Ginobili off into the corner, caught the ball and fired up an awkward jumper for an airball. Plainview was noticeably unamused, and my reaction was somewhat stronger.

Eh whatever. This will end one of three ways, as it always has. Manu might struggle from outside all season, thereby not giving Tony any incentive to pass him the ball or Pop any incentive to tell Tony to pass him the ball. Or, more likely, Manu will eventually get hot and get more shots run for him. Or maybe he’ll just snap one day and beat the hell out of Frenchy McWonderbutt in front of 18,000 people. Just so we’re official, I’m on the record as stating that the second thing is what I’m hoping for, but the third would be kinda morbidly interesting, in an “witnessing Armageddon” sort of thing. At least we’d lead off SportsCenter for a night.

As badly as the Spurs played against Orlando, they can take comfort in the fact that there are many more games to play and improve. One such opportunity comes tonight against the Lakers, who struggled to beat Houston yesterday. Me and Amanda tried it again Monday morning, with much better results, and if we can satisfy each other on the second try, then really there is no chance why the Spurs can’t satisfy their fans this go around.

P.S. Notice how I didn’t mention the officiating? That’s because I’m classy and shit. Rest assured, if that debacle happened in May instead of January, this here blog entry would’ve had a different tone.



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Comments

  1. John January 18, 2009

    Today the Spurs really woke up, especially after that embarrassing lost to the Sixers. Can’t remember when the hell did they loose like that.

    I think they proved once again, that why the rest of the NBA must take notice of them, come playoff time. But they need to do it on a more consistent basis, especially the numbers of road games coming for them.

    Manu was superb from the bench and Nocioni was doing the same for the Bulls. It kind of look like they were both in a boxing match. Exchanging one punch after another!!! (been watching to much of Rocky lately, Hahaha!!!)

    To be honest, I’m not that too worried about the Spurs as there are playoff contender team as we all know for a long time. But it is the Bulls that I’m concerned of.

    They need to start winning important games and they need more from everyone. Derrick Rose can’t do it all by himself. Luol Deng must step up, so is Drew Gooden. From the bench, they need see more of Noce, they same way we saw in today’s game.

    Only then the Chicago Bulls will make it into the post season. By the way, what did you think about the Manu/Noce about? And what do the Bulls need to improve from now onwards?

    http://mundoalbiceleste.blogspot.com/2009/01/nba-news-manu-overcome-chapus-bulls.html

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