A Glimpse Into the Future
It wasn’t the prettiest of wins, but considering the circumstances, it was a good one. With Manu out injured, and Tim not playing for rest, the heavy lifting fell on to Parker. Given that it was also the second night of a back-to-back, you knew the minutes would be spread out. Both Bonner and Blair got big minutes (after virtually none for the better part of a month), and De Colo saw significant action as well. Everyone contributed what they could, but it was Parker’s steady hand on the wheel that guided the ship home. He couldn’t buy a jump shot (I think he finished 0 for 9 outside of the paint), but his penetration and mastery of the offense–along with some good first half shooting–were enough to outlast the Hawks.
The second half was particularly ugly. After going 9 for 18 in the first half on 3-pointers, we didn’t hit a single one in the second half. Zilch. Nada. In fact, outside of a deep Danny Green jump shot to beat the shot clock, I don’t remember a single outside shot falling in the second half. I don’t remember much of any offense in the second half, to be honest. After coughing up a 10-point lead, the team was able to fight and scrap enough on both ends to pull out the victory.
Honestly, if not for a nice little 12-1 spurt to end the first half (and an unfortunate injury to Devin Harris for Atlanta) we probably lose the game.
But a win is a win. And given the extenuating circumstances, I’m quite pleased with tonight’s effort and victory.
A few more thoughts on tonight’s victory:
–With the rotation out of whack, we saw some line-ups that probably don’t play together all that often. At the end of the 1st quarter, Blair, Bonner, Jackson, Neal, and De Colo were on the floor together. I’d be willing to bet that 5-man unit hadn’t seen any playing time together this season.
–Atlanta opened the second half with 2 point guards (Teague and Harris), and it was giving our defense fits. We couldn’t stop either guard, and their penetration was opening up the Hawks offense.
–Did I mention how poorly we shot in the second half? And how our offense barely functioned above a passing level without Parker in the game?
–Stephen Jackson didn’t play in the second half at all. I’m not sure if Pop was giving him rest for Monday’s game, or if he was upset with him. Jackson was late getting back on D after a missed 3 in the corner, mostly because he was pouting and bitching at the refs. He’s done a bit too much of this lately, and perhaps Pop was letting him know that.
–Mills didn’t play, either, which seems surprising given the circumstances. We certainly could have used his shooting in the second half, especially since De Colo wasn’t doing much running the offense.
–Danny Green had a huge rebound and outlet to Parker, who converted on the fast break, which essentially sealed the game. This was after allowing consecutive offensive rebounds and giving the Hawks three shots on one possession. Green is good at plays like this.
–We did a great job running the Hawks off of the 3-point line late in the game when they needed a 3 to stay close. Splitter in particular had one great play where he switched out to Korver after Green got caught up on some screens. Korver was locked and ready to shoot if not for the Splitter switch, and Korver is their best long distance shooter. A great play by Tiago.
–How great was the play to beat the press at the end? Food for thought: would it have been better for Kawhi and Tiago to dribble out some clock before putting the shot in? They probably could have taken 5 seconds off easily before any Hawk got back there, but might have given up the sure 2 points. I don’t have an answer, just wondering.
–With both Manu and Tim out, this is a reasonable facsimile of what the Spurs could look like in a few years, with Parker running the show, and Leonard and Green and Splitter starting and playing big minutes. While certainly not to the level we’re accustomed, it could still be a solid playoff team.
Monday is Martin Luther King, Jr. day, always a full slate of NBA games. The Spurs are in Philadelphia with a slightly earlier start time.
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