Search results: "parker" (page 8 of 18)

Messed Around and Won By 30

Season 50, Game 36
San Antonio 127, Denver 99
29-7, 2nd in the West

The funny thing is, I don’t even feel like the team played all that well in this game.

The defensive execution was sloppy at times, as Denver got good looks on a lot of nifty back cuts and ball movement. The offense seemed a step slow at times, with lots of missed cutters and a bit too much fancy passing (instead of making the right pass).

The way the game started, it seemed like the Nuggets might drop 150 on the Spurs. They made their first 9 shots, then converted an And-1, then drew 3 straight shooting fouls. It was 3:27 in the 1st quarter before the Spurs recorded a ‘stop’, and even that was a pretty wide open miss. At that time, the Nuggets were 10-of-11 from the floor, 6-of-7 from the FT line. The Spurs got four stops the entire 1st quarter. Four.

And yet only trailed by four points. While the offense wasn’t totally in sync team-wide, the individual shooting performances were phenomenal. The team shot 56% overall. Parker was 10-for-11 for 21 points (with 9 assists to boot); Aldridge was 11-for-18 for 28 points (Denver had nobody who could guard him); Gasol was a nifty 7-for-9; and the team was 12-for-24 from 3, outpacing the Nuggets by 15 points from deep (18 if you disregard the 3 the Nuggets threw up at the buzzer in a 30-point game).

(Photo: David Zalubowski/Associated Press)

Eventually, the Spurs were just too much for the Nuggets’ defense. In sync or not, the Spurs’ offense operates at a level far above the Nuggets’ defense. After a shaky start, Kawhi started to come alive a bit in the second half. Every time the Nuggets threatened to get close, the Spurs had an answer.

And after giving up 33 points in the first quarter, the Spurs only surrendered 66 the rest of the game. That’s very good defense, even if it didn’t always look that way. After starting 10-for-10, the Nuggets finished the rest of the game 29-for-76 (38%).

While the individual pieces don’t always seem to make sense (with a few giant exceptions, obviously), the Spurs always figure out how to play really solid team defense. After a slow start to the season, they once again sit atop the league in defensive efficiency. Yawn.

The Spurs return home to face the Hornets Saturday night, which kicks off a 3-game homestand.

Go Spurs Go.

Extinction Level Event

Season 50, Game 35
San Antonio 110, Toronto 82
28-7, 2nd in the West

More of that, please.

Outside of the very first game against Golden State, that might be the Spurs’ most impressive buzzer-to-buzzer performance of the season. Those first 9 minutes of the game were the best I’ve seen the starters play as a unit, bar none. The ball was whipping around on offense, finding open shooters galore. On the other side, everything was a chore for Toronto, whose only scoring opportunities came mostly in isolation. The Spurs were up 19 in a blink.

We all know the fear of an early double-digit lead. The bench did their best to put the scare into us, as Toronto was able to stay in touch for a little bit. But the Spurs were just too much for the Raptors (on Game 6 of a 6-game road trip), building the lead every quarter.

Kawhi was clearly feeling better. 25 points on 12 shots in 28 minutes is good. Throw in his usual stout defense with 3 blocks and 2 steals and being unconscious from 3 (5-for-7), and the Raptors just had no answer for him. Aldridge also continued his hot streak, with 23 points, 8 rebounds, and 6 assists. Combined they scored 48 points on 28 shots and just completely overwhelmed the Raptors.

When those two can play this well individually and have great chemistry together, the Spurs are truly an elite team. Aldridge’s play in particular has been impressive these last few weeks. His activity on both ends has been remarkable, and he’s not just settling for long jumpers (though taking–and making–enough of them to keep the defense honest). I really love how well he’s playing in the post right now.

Parker also had a great game, and is settling into quite a groove for the season. He does a little bit of everything on the floor, and is truly a floor general out there. He’s not as quick as he once was, nor does he score quite like he used to; but he still can make the Spurs’ offense hum, and he’s become more unselfish in his basketball dotage, which sometimes makes the Spurs even better.

There’s not a lot more to say. The Spurs just dominated this game. 13 (out of 24) 3s to just 4 (out of 18) for Toronto. 55% from the floor to 37% for Toronto. 32 assists to just 8 for Toronto. 15 (!!) blocks. While the effects of the road surely played a role, the Raptors are currently one of the two best offenses in the league (with Golden State), on pace for historic season numbers. And the Spurs just made them look like a D-league team out there.

After the tough loss in Atlanta, it was encouraging to see the team respond so strongly in a game they very easily could have lost. The Spurs are in a soft spot in their schedule, and this is a good time to bank wins.

The Spurs travel to Denver to take on the always-pesky Nuggets on Thursday.

Go Spurs Go.

The Juice Unit Rallies to Close 2016 With a Bang

Season 50, Game 33
San Antonio 110, Portland 94
27-6, 2nd in the West

As the 2016-17 Spurs are wont to do, they let a subpar team stick around for nearly three quarters before asserting their will and pulling away for a blowout win. Without superstar Kawhi Leonard, San Antonio leaned on Danny Green and Jonathon Simmons – not the white-hot LaMarcus Aldridge – to put the Portland Trailblazers in their place en route to a 110-94 win.

(Photo by Mark Sobhani/NBAE via Getty Images)

While Kyle Anderson got the start in place of the ailing Leonard, it was Simmons who took advantage of the extended minutes, finishing the game with a team-leading 19 points and an emphatic “GET OFF MY LAWN” dunk in his 30 minutes of action.

RIP Pat Connaughton.

It’s New Years Eve so we’ll keep this short, but other cool things besides that Simmons dunk happened last night, including…

• Green scored 18 points on 6-of-9 shooting from 3-point land. Nice to see him firing and hitting those shots in addition to being a historically great defender.

• Aldridge only scored 8 points on 2-of-3 shooting (what?) and the Spurs still won handily.

• The not-so-disposable Tony Parker poured in another 18 points.

• Manu Ginobili is still Manu Ginobili. He scored 14 off the bench, including a sweet pair of 3 pointers.

• David Lee (my new favorite Spur, after much skepticism) was a perfect 4-for-4, to go along with 2 offensive rebounds, 2 defensive rebounds, and assist and a steal. Everything except for a block!

And, what the hell, here’s another Vine of the dunk that buried Connaughton last night.

Happy New Year and GO SPURS GO!

Wacky Ball

Season 50, Game 32
San Antonio 119, Phoenix 98
26-6, 2nd in the West

For a while there, it looked like the Suns were going to run the Spurs right out of the gym.

Yes, the 9-23 dead-last-in-the-West Phoenix Suns were just too much for the Spurs to handle. For a half. In the second half, the world was once again righted, and the Spurs won going away rather easily.

If this game was a litmus test of the Spurs’ defense without Kawhi Leonard, it looked like the team was headed towards a miserable showing. The Suns scored 64 points in the first half on roughly 113% shooting. They were getting whatever they wanted. The only “defense” the Spurs played was off of Suns’ turnovers, which mostly consisted of young players making mistakes. To the Spurs credit, many of the Suns shots were of the variety the defense is happy to allow, the Suns were just nailing them.

Also to the Spurs credit: their offense. The Suns defense offered little resistance, so even as they scored at will, the Spurs mostly kept up.

I’m sure Coach Pop said some very nice things at halftime and calmly pointed out their defensive lapses. Whatever he did, it worked. 64 points by the Sun in the first half, a mere 34 in the second. The Spurs were more aggressive, more connected, and locked in. While the Suns were still able to get out in transition a bit, the Spurs completely locked them up in the halfcourt and made every shot difficult.

Of course, Phoenix still threatened to keep the game tight by playing some of the loosest, silliest offense you’ll ever see from the team. Mills – enthralled with the alley-oop – attempted 2 or 3 very ill-advised oops, one to David Lee on a semi-fastbreak, another that never got more than 7 feet off the ground. Every time the team had a chance to really salt the game away, they’d blow 3 or 4 layups in a row, or turn the ball over on a fast break. I thought poor Pop might have a stroke on the sideline.

Again, he calmly reminded his PGs (and Manu Ginobili) that LaMarcus Aldridge was on the team and had a severe mismatch in the post. LA would get the ball, and he’d score. Marquese Chriss on the Suns might be a good player some day, but he looks to be about half the size of Aldridge currently, and LaMarcus would just bully his way straight to the hoop every time he had it.

(Photo: Eric Gay/Associated Press)

Aldridge finished the night 10-of-12 for 27 points and 8 rebounds. Over the last two games, he is shooting 25-of-32 for 60 points. That is… good.

This happened last year right around this time, too, where Aldridge seemed to kind of ‘figure things out’. The way he’s played the last two games is probably the best he’s ever played as a Spur. He’s making shots, certainly, but it’s more where he’s getting his shots from. He’s not settling for the long jumper (though he’s finally hitting those, too); he’s bullying his way to the rim and getting good looks up close. He’s getting to the free throw line.

And he’s playing really aggressively on both ends. His activity is keeping balls alive on offense, opening up lanes for other scorers and getting second chance points. On defense, he’s getting blocks and steals and helping to protect the paint.

This LA with Kawhi? That’s a damn scary top 2, with a great supporting cast behind it. Here’s hoping we keep seeing the increased comfort from Aldridge.

A few more thoughts from Wednesday’s win:

• Manu was a man possessed tonight. He was all over the court on both ends. He had three blocks. He had a break away dunk. He had two steals. He is 39 years old.

• The Spurs waived Nico Laprovittola on Tuesday. Watching DeJounte Murray in garbage time on Wednesday, it’s clear to see why. This kid has all the physical ability in the world with the work ethic to match. He is long and quick. He can break down any defense he wants, and stifle his match-up on the other end. It’ll take him a while to figure out the game mentally, but damn, this kid could be really good. Over the last few games, it’s clear that he’s ready to be the 3rd PG, which his why the team felt ready to move on from Nico.

I love watching Murray in garbage time, but I’m more excited to see what he starts doing in ‘real’ game action.

• Tony Parker had it going tonight. Some vintage moves (with a little extra flourish, which is needed for him to actually get open these days), wrecking the Phoenix big men, plus he had the jumper working. All told, he was 10-of-16 from the floor. If this is the top end of what we might get from Parker, he is still really valuable.

• Kyle Anderson got the start in place of Kawhi, and had a not-so-great night. I really like Kyle and want him to do well, but it’s clear his lack of speed will be an issue. So far, his intelligence and craftiness isn’t making up the difference. He seems to be struggling this season when he does get action, perhaps because he’s pressing, worried that he has to impress too much with such little time.

Jonathon Simmons has rightfully taken his rotation spot, but Anderson still has unique skills that could be helpful. He just can’t seem to get out of his own most of the time. I still hope he can figure it out.

The Spurs face the Blazers at home Friday night, a rematch from a week ago. Damian Lillard hasn’t played since last Friday with a sprained ankle, so we’ll see if he returns against the Spurs.

Go Spurs Go.

This Year To Save Me From Tears

Season 50, Game 31
San Antonio 119, Chicago 100
25-6, 2nd in the West

Other than Roger Mason, Jr.’s 3 to win the game in Phoenix way back in 2008, the Spurs have a bad Christmas Day history. Frankly, I’ve gotten used to the Spurs losing on this day.

It’s the price of admission for being a Spurs fan: win 50-60 games a year, but lose on Christmas day. Not a bad trade-off.

As with many other things, though, this year’s team is different. I had a good feeling coming into this game. For starters, the team had a rare road loss to avenge. Plus, after losing to the Clippers on Thursday, the team bounced back with a huge win Friday night in Portland in which many things just seemed to click. (Then Trace put the huge reverse jinx on the game, practically ensuring the win.)

Ten minutes into the game, it sure looked like this thing was over. LaMarcus Aldridge couldn’t miss, the Bulls couldn’t hit, and the Spurs were already up 20. But as we’ve discussed many times, there’s nothing worse in an NBA game than a huge 1st quarter lead. There’s almost no way to maintain that type of lead over a professional NBA team. There’s just too much variance in a game, too much pride in the other squad, and too much natural complacency when you get that big of a lead.

As was easily predicted, the Bulls took their first lead midway through the 3rd quarter. Had I been watching in real time, my brand new slippers (a biennial Christmas gift from my mother) probably would’ve been thrown through the TV. Thankfully, I was watching with the benefit of hindsight, so I patiently waited for the Dewayne Dedmon spurt to push the lead back up to double digits, then the dominating 4th quarter to close it out.

There was a lot to be happy about in this game (Pop was reminded post-game that he has used the word ‘happy’ on more than one occasion this month):

• The aforementioned Dedmon spurt, pretty reliable in just about every game.

• Aldridge making up for all his midrange misses by hitting them all (and I mean all) in this game. I’d still like more offensive variety in his game, but hitting that jumper consistently takes him from a very good player to one of the most unstoppable offensive weapons in the game.

• Kawhi continuing to be Kawhi and being ruthlessly efficient and dominant.

• Tony Parker coming through with his late-game burst to ice the game. Parker is a flash point for this season’s team. However, if he can be solid (if unremarkable) for the majority of the game while still having the capability for those little late game runs that help swing games, he is still a plus-player in the system.

• The bench continuing to be a spark.

• Not getting bullied and pushed around by a more physical team (what happened to the team in Chicago).

• The sweet Christmas warm-ups and jerseys. (Santa, if you’re listening and it’s not too late.)

After a dispiriting road loss in Los Angeles Thursday night, it’s hard not to be impressed with the bounce back from this team. Two games, a +39-point differential on a difficult travel schedule (trust me, Portland is a tough in-and-out).

The team is really good, and still has so much room to grow. At 16-2, the Spurs currently have a better record on the road than any other team has at home (the Cavs are an equal 16-2 at home). And don’t look now, but they’re only one game back in the loss column from the Warriors.

This is going to be a fun season, even if the Finals feel preordained. Here’s hoping the Spurs at least have a few words to say in that conversation.

The team now gets a few days off at home before facing Phoenix at the AT&T Center on Wednesday night.

Go Spurs Go.

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