Revenge Is A Dish Best Served Twice
New Orleans 84, San Antonio 109 // 17-3 // 1st in the West
Sometimes a timeout can be the key moment in a game. Up 28 at the half, the Hornets raced out to a 9-2 start in the 3rd quarter, cutting the deficit to 21 points. The Spurs looked flat and complacent and were playing as if they had already won the game. One of my greatest fears in a game is getting up by more than 20 in the first half. NBA games are too long, and teams too good, for any first half lead to be safe. But it’s human nature to ease up when you get up big early. In the only game that I’ve actually seen in the AT&T Center, the Spurs were up 20 on the Celtics in the first quarter. Boston kept chipping away, and eventually took the lead in the 4th. The Spurs kept fighting and almost won the game on a steal of a Kevin Garnett inbound pass and turn around 3 pointer from Robert Horry in the closing seconds that just missed. But watching that early lead dissipate was agonizing, knowing that the game was slipping away from us. I feared the same thing was happening against New Orleans on Sunday.
And so Pop called a time-out, up by 21. I don’t know what makes a coach great in this league. I don’t know if it’s mostly lucking into the right players and not screwing up good situations. I don’t know what you can say to a player that he hasn’t heard a million times over. But if coaching matters in the NBA (and I do believe that it does), then Pop is still one of the best. He knows how to communicate with his players, treats them with much-appreciated respect and honesty, and knows not to take himself or anything too seriously. And he knows how to give them a swift kick in the ass. Coming out of the time-out, the Spurs jumped on the Hornets, ripped off a 17-0 run, pushed the lead to 38, and effectively ended the game.
I don’t know what was more impressive: that we had 90 points after 3 quarters, or that we held them to only 59, winning each quarter by an average of 30-20. But I do know this: after losing the second game of the season to New Orleans and being down 17 (44-61) to them at the half in the second meeting between the two teams, the Spurs have outscored them 174-118 in the last 6 quarters. Whoa. Think about that. That’s 56 more points in 72 minutes, an average of 9.3 per quarter. Cut another way, the average score in each of those quarters was 29-19.6, which, extrapolated out to an entire game, would be 116-78. A beat down if ever there was one. I think it’s safe to say that we’ve figured something out that works against this team, and we have their number a little bit.
The Spurs get two days off before facing the Warriors again on Wednesday. We beat the Warriors handily in Oakland recently, so let’s hope we can keep the homestand rolling with another win.
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