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Everybody Would Rather Be Watching Football Today

By Jeff Koch on January 12, 2014.

Minnesota 86, San Antonio 104

I mean, I was still more excited for the Spurs game tonight than the two football matinees. But I might have been the only one, including most players in this game.

After getting torched by Kevin Love a few weeks ago in San Antonio and just holding on for a win, the Spurs did a much better job containing him tonight. Boris Diaw: Professional Elite PF Stopper. He slowed down Dirk, he slowed down Love. Some of it was just Love having an off night. Often, though, an “off” night happens because of a slow and frustrating start, and Diaw ensured that was the case. He has the size to root players out of their favorite spots, and the foot quickness to never get out of position. It’s really quite remarkable.

The Wolves hung close in the game for 3 quarters, though, because Pekovic was a monster, the Spurs turned the ball over like crazy, and the Wolves were able to convert enough second chance points. Still, it just felt like the Spurs would make a run to put the game away, and they did. Even as the Wolves kept it close, the Spurs just kept making shots (while often running really sloppy and stagnant offense) to keep enough separation.

A few more thoughts on tonight’s game:

–If Jeff Ayres had even average hands, he could be an incredible player. He runs hard, plays smart, and is great with positioning on both ends of the court. But man, those hands. They might be the worst I’ve ever seen watching NBA basketball. He routinely misses easy drop off passes that should be dunks; sure rebounds often just slip right out; and he often must whiffs on layups and put backs. Still, as he gets more comfortable in the Spurs system, he is proving to be a very valuable rotation player. And his positive far outweighs his negative.

–Kawhi had another great game, his second against the Wolves. With Manu out, he had some time as the primary player in the offense with the second unit, and he acquitted himself well. He’s still best when doing most of his damage outside of the framework, but I won’t be surprised if we see him go up a level (quietly, most likely) between now and the start of the playoffs.

–I can’t get a handle on Parker’s season. In many ways, he’s having a very good season, as always. But something just seems off about him. He’s just not as sharp as last year, and by extension, neither is the Spurs’ offense. There are rumblings about the Spurs in the trade market and Parker’s next contract, and it’s possible that that is creeping into his head a bit. We just haven’t seen a prolonged stretch of “great Tony” yet this season.

–Cory Joseph got some extended playing time as a 2-guard off the bench in Manu’s absence. I liked him in that role, particularly because he is a very good defender and rebounder for his position. I’m a bit down on him offensively as a PG, though. I feel like the ball sticks a bit too much with him, and the offense just comes to a stop as he tries to “Parker” his way to his own shot and points. As an off-ball guard, he could be more valuable, as his shot has improved.

–Matt Bonner had a good game. This is why benches are very important. And why we all love Matt Bonner.

The Spurs play Monday night in New Orleans against a struggling Pelicans team. I’ll be most interested to see who plays and who sits. Manu might get one more game off (and not even travel with the team), but he also might need to come back if Green can’t play.

Update: Green will NOT travel with the team to New Orleans; Manu will but is still questionable to play.

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