New Jersey 96, San Antonio 106 // 48-10 // 1st in the West
The Spurs called a timeout midway through the 3rd quarter in Friday night’s win against the New Jersey Nets. At the time the Spurs were leading, but the game was still closely contested. Coming out of the break, the Spurs ran a beautiful play in which Parker, with the ball, dribbled off of two picks set by Duncan then Bonner. After his pick, Duncan curled to the basket on the opposite side of the court that Parker was dribbling towards. Parker curled and shot a pass to Duncan who was suddenly alone under the basket for a dunk.
A beautiful play, reminiscent of one ran in Milwaukee several weeks ago to secure a victory. Over the next four and a half minutes, the Spurs opened up the game with offensive execution that can only be the product of chemistry and precision. A Duncan-Hill screen and roll that leads to another Duncan dunk; Parker penetrations that end up in wide open 3s for Hill; a Parker fast break that culminates in a 3 from Bonner, trailing the play perfectly and sliding into his sweet spot just in time for the pass. The Spurs ended the quarter on an 18-6 run and never looked back.
Popovich has a phrase for this: corporate knowledge. A team can only be as good as its understanding of the system. Every player has a role to fill and is an important cog in the machinations of the offense and the defense. This knowledge is vital, often more important than overwhelming skill and athleticism, and it’s what allows players like Bonner to have successful careers here.
Bill Land and Sean Elliott talked a little bit about this at the end of the broadcast. They said that this team plays as a unit, and is not 12 players going in 12 different directions. That’s corporate knowledge; that’s chemistry. Bill Land also brought up another interesting point: this team seems to have more fun and enjoyment playing with each other than many other teams, and certainly more so than many past Spurs teams. They really are a joy to watch, and, as Land said, we should enjoy the process as much as the result.
But also remember that come playoff time, while many teams have been shuffling their rosters and making big moves for the playoff push, what most often wins games is chemistry and execution in the clutch. And no team possesses more of this corporate knowledge than the San Antonio Spurs.
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