Season 51, Game 20 San Antonio 115, Dallas 108 13-7, 3rd in the West
Monday night marked Tony Parker’s 1,144th career game in the NBA. After an injury sustained in last season’s playoff series against the Houston Rockets, many of us didn’t see him getting past 1,143.
In a game Parker later compared to his first game as a rookie, San Antonio sputtered early, but eventually settled in and claimed victory over the five-win Dallas Mavericks to improve to 14-7 on the season. Parker only played 14 minutes, but he scored six points on seven shot attempts to go along with four assists. Most importantly, he didn’t appear to re-aggravate his injured thigh which is obviously priority number one in your first game back from long-term injury.
Season 51, Game 80 San Antonio 116, Portland 105 46-34, 6th in the West
If Saturday night’s matchup versus the visiting Portland Trail Blazers felt like a playoff game to you, you’re not alone. San Antonio came into the game needing two wins in their final three contests to secure a 21st consecutive trip to the playoffs. The team has been in win-or-go-home mode since, what, early March?
Another reason this much-need victory felt like a playoff game: The Spurs could very well end up meeting Portland in the first round of the playoffs next weekend. Portland currently holds the 3 seed, while San Antonio sits in 6th. Continue reading
Season 51, Game 78
San Antonio 110, Los Angeles Clippers 113
45-33, 4th in the West
Season 51, Game 79
San Antonio 112, Los Angeles Lakers 122
45-34, 5th in the West
Lost in the chaos of a drama-filled season – in which the leading headline has mostly been about a guy who isn’t even playing basketball right now – is a tale of two teams.
One team, plays in San Antonio, wears a color combination of black, silver and white, and more importantly, carries a sense of pride and responsibility. This team is good at basketball and while they may not be the best team in franchise history, is at least fun to watch. At their best, they are probably good enough to be the 3 seed in the Western Conference. In reality, they are a good basketball team.
The other team mirrors the first team in some aspects. You can see the resemblance, such as the same color combination of the jerseys, but the differences are also glaringly obvious. Completely removed from the confines of a familiar ATT Center, they wish to be nestled closely by a supportive fan base and comforted by some good home cookin’. This “other” team plays in the opponent’s home arena. This team is a bad basketball team.
Season 51, Game 77 San Antonio 100, Houston 83 45-32, 4th in the West
During this game there was a lot of discussion between Jeff Van Gundy, Mark Jason and Mike Breen about the consistent excellence of the San Antonio Spurs and how good they’ve played this season despite injuries.
Kawhi Leonard, Tony Parker, Rudy Gay, Manu Ginobili and Danny Green have missed 68, 27, 25, 16 and 12 games, respectively. Only Patty Mills has played in all 77.
It is truly astonishing, then, that the Spurs are a playoff team in the Western Conference, let alone that they have the 4th seed and are able to beat what is arguably the best team in the league.
Would this game have turned out differently if Chris Paul had played for Houston? Maybe. Probably.
The Spurs took the lead with 4 minutes left in the 1st quarter and never looked back. And yet, this game didn’t feel wrapped up until late in the 4th quarter.
I kept waiting for James Harden to go on a scoring spree, but he never did. He ended up with a ho-hum 25 points on 8-of-19 shooting.
The Spurs were led, as always, by LaMarcus Aldridge, who finished with 23 points, 14 rebounds and 3 blocks.
Rudy Gay scored 21 points and came through with some big moments when San Antonio needed them, including this block on Eric Gordon followed by an emphatic dunk on the opposite end:
After failing to finish a few fast break layup opportunities, and getting some advice from Coach Pop to pull up shoot the 3-ball, Patty Mills had a big fourth quarter, nailing 3-of-6 three pointers and finishing with 14 points.
With just five games left to play, it’s unlikely the Spurs will win five straight to finish with 50 wins for their 19th consecutive season.
They’d have to win against the Clippers and Lakers on the road, against the Trailblazers and Kings at home, then against the Pelicans on the road.
Don’t hold your breath, but don’t give up faith.
If last night’s game showed us anything it’s that the Spurs are a still a good team and could give anyone a run in the first round of the playoffs.
Anything can happen.
The Spurs head to Los Angeles for Tuesday and Wednesday night games at Staples. Neither LA team will make the playoffs this year, so both teams will be playing for pride, if anything. Should be fun.