Take One In Our House, We’ll Take One In Yours
Season 50, Game 06
San Antonio 100, Utah 86
It didn’t take long for the Spurs to avenge their sole loss of the season.
Playing with more energy and focus, the Spurs were able to control the game from (almost) the tip, exerting their will on both ends. The Jazz still shot it well from behind the arc, but the Spurs smothered them everywhere else. On offense, they were more aggressive, moving the ball and getting into the paint, rarely settling for bad shots.
A few more quick thoughts on the game:
• Of Kawhi’s gaudy stat line (29 points, 11 rebounds, 4 assists, 1 block, 1 steal), my two favorite numbers are 11 and 4. With his numbers up everywhere else, I’m also happy to see his rebounding numbers not take a dramatic dip. The team is asking so much of him on both ends, that it’d be natural to see those numbers slip. But he is a great rebounder for his position, and that is an important contribution in the Spurs’ schemes.
With his four assists, Kawhi was the team leader. His vision keeps improving, and he’s learning to make the proper pass when his defensive focus helps to open up holes and opportunities for other players.
• In the first 2 minutes of the game the Jazz were +8; in the first 2 minutes of the second half, the Jazz were +5. So, in those 4 minutes, the Jazz were +13, in a game they lost by 14. The Spurs were 27 points better over the remaining 44 minutes.
Slow starts are a bit worrisome for this team. It’s not even necessarily a starters things, because in both halves of this game, it was the starters who regained control of the game. Still, it’s a slippery slope to spot a team 5-10 points each half.
• Is it bad to be happy about the team’s chances of winning the game after hearing the news that Parker was out? My first thought was: “that will make it easier to win the game.”
There are two things going on here: first, Mills is playing a lot better this season. Second, Parker is playing a lot worse. That makes for a fairly noticeable gap on the court.
The reporting now is that Parker hurt his knee in the season opener at Golden State, and has been fighting it ever since. This is somewhat encouraging, as it might explain his lack of explosion and quickness so far this season. By all accounts, he looked solid in the pre-season. Hopefully his slow start is more a nagging injury than a precipitous career decline.
• Aldridge’s shot still looks a little off to start the season. I don’t feel like it’s going in every time he shoots it, which is a good indication of it being on. He is playing hard, though, and seemed to be more aggressive getting into the paint in this game. He also came in and helped to put the game out of reach in the middle of the 4th quarter, denying any chance of a comeback for the Jazz.
• Gasol had some really nice touches for scores in the low post. As great as his midrange shooting is, his play in the post might be where he finds his footing with this team.
• The Lee/Dedmon back-up big combination continues to delight me. They ran a nasty 4/5 pick and roll to start the 4th quarter that warranted a quick timeout from Jazz coach Quin Snyder. They are developing nice chemistry, and they complement each other well. Lee is great offensively; Dedmon defensively. They help to cover up each other’s weaknesses, and also bring out the best of the other on both ends.
• Dedmon had a few nasty blocks at the rim. I love his energy and defensive tenacity.
The Spurs travel home to play the Clippers on Saturday night. Both teams are on the second night of a back-to-back, so it’ll be interesting to see the energy level of the game. Playing the Clippers is always a nice barometer game. It’s always nice to beat the Clippers, as they are very easy to dislike.
Go Spurs Go.