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Thankful for Something

By Stephen Hale on November 22, 2012.

We can all be thankful for something.

It has been far too long since the last time I set foot in the Lone Star State. My U.S. Navy duties have forced me to “slum it” over the last three years in the arm pit of the universe, known as San Diego. As awful as that is, I finally made my way home to the Great State for Thanksgiving. In the middle of all the reconnecting with family, the food preparations and getting Laker wife used to the South Texas humidity, I had one demand for my family upon my arrival home: watch the Spurs game.

You see, it was more than just watching the game. Being in So Cal, every LA game is broadcast on Time Warner Cable vice ESPN, NBAtv, TNT, ABC, etc. The bias coming out of my TV would turn a fair-weathered Spurs fan toward the former Minneapolis franchise, but NOT me. After all the games I have watched with that LAL and LAC commentary that loves to remind us of last year, as if they did well in the postseason, I was rewarded tonight for my painful endurance of the Purple and Gold bias.

I got to watch a game on Fox Sports SW. Dude, those guys were Spurs fans talking about a game, not just commentators. And I love it. Laker wife sat right there next to me and complained about wanting to watch Xfactor or Honey-Boo-Boo-Child or something…I wasn’t paying attention. The Spurs were on.

All the while, my good friend from Boston, who is now stationed with me in the Project City (San Diego), texted me throughout the game. They weren’t happy texts. He is slightly bitter. Good. He should be.

It was just an all-around perfect scenario.

The game was even better.

First off, I loved our starting lineup. Having Blair in there is always interesting. Personally, I prefer Diaw or even Bonner, just for the “mix” it gives the bench, but Blair definitely (10 & 5) made for a fair play. The biggest addition was having Neal in there with Green and Parker.

Neal gave us some extra O, but the surprising cause and effect was Green at the 3. Green had to play big. If that guy hasn’t come a long way, then I don’t know what to tell you. Go pull up a YouTube video of him when he came into the league and watch his stroke then and then look at it now.

Go ahead, I’ll wait.

See?

Told Ya.

Now granted, he never came out of the locker room in the WCF last year, but that was then and this is now and blah blah blah. Here is to hoping he stays out of that shell of his.

I’d like to point out the importance of that starting line up. Folks, Manu and Tiago are bench players and some of our better ones. That’s not really gonna change. We need them coming in strong from the bench. What makes PATFO brilliant is that they don’t mess with that rotation if they don’t have too. Most coaches make knee jerk reactions and would have put Manu in the starting lineup and maybe even Tiago for some extra size with Kawhi and Jack out. Leaving Manu and Tiago to come off the bench makes their part of the rotation a little something that we like to call, “normal.” You need normal in an 82-game season. You need the right mix of normal with the right spontaneity… just to keep things interesting. Here’s to Pop, for keeping it normal tonight.

Game ball goes to Tiago. Heard a guy on Twitter call him “the Hulk” because some nights he is a big scary monster. Other nights, he is a wimpy little human. Fitting. Tonight we got the Hulk. Dude went off. He has soft hands, a nice touch and tonight looked like Jerry West at the charity stripe. Hulk had 23 points on 9 of 11 shooting and 5 of 5 from the line. I couldn’t have been happier. The play where he pinned Rondo on the glass and then went the length of the court, caught a rocket from Boris and then finished with that George Mikan dunk was awesome.

Cheering loudly, I woke Laker wife from her daydream.

Can Boris pass or what? I love his vision, which is a huge reason we got him. Granted, he is slower than molasses in February and he couldn’t jump to a conclusion, but what he doesn’t have in ability, he makes up for with IQ and work. Yeah, I know. Boris has a work ethic, right?

Parker showed us that he is much better than Rondo. Yeah, Rondo made some tough shots, but Tony was everywhere tonight. He had 26 points on 12-17 shooting. In the lane, to the rack, and that little pull-up he has off the 4th pick in a row moving to his left… deadly. Rondo and the Celtics had conceded defeat when Parker came down the right side of the court on a fast break and Rondo thought he had the block against the glass. Parker, at full speed, stopped on a dime and hit a 2-foot floater. A 2-foot floater? Who does that? Seriously? Who has the smarts and ability to do that? Rondo’s face looked like Parker ate his lunch and popped the bag. Priceless.

Parker grinned.

And Tim. He is really good at playing basketball. He had a pathetic 20-15. Come on, dude. What a freak. At one point he caught the ball on the left side with his back to Brandon Bass. I looked to my kid sister and Laker wife and said, “Watch this, haters. He is gonna turn toward the paint, rip through to the left block, with no dribble, mind you, rise up and ‘glass’ him.”

As if Tim heard me, he did exactly that. I was a God for about four seconds. I turned to say, “Told ya,” but they were asleep.

Haters.

We got 10 from Green. 10 from Blair. 12 from Gary. Hard to lose like that. Just think about what would happen if we got Manu going…

Next up, we play a weirdly confusing Indiana Pacer team on Friday. Let’s hope we don’t get lost in the cranberry sauce and Turducken stuffing and have a good showing. Good to see George Hill again. I know he will be ready to play, and we need to be ready also.

Have a Happy Thanksgiving everyone. My first time being home for the Holiday season in the three years and I am fully intending to go Spurs gear shopping on Black Friday. I am thankful for my country, thankful for Laker wife (who is actually pretty cool about my Spurs commitment) and thankful for Gregg Popovich. Get up off me, playa!

Go Spurs Go!

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