I was hoping the Spurs would give us a six-game winning streak through the Holiday weekend, but I suppose that winning eight of their last 10 will have to do. DeJuan Blair has started four straight games at center, but Popovich is still stubbornly sticking with Keith Bogans as the starting shooting guard. Start Roger Mason already, at least he can shoot! Seriously, if Bogans can’t come in and bottle up Jerryd Bayless then what good is he at this point? Anyway… The Spurs have gone 2-1 since my last update before Christmas when they knocked out the Clippers. Let’s look back at those three games, what went wrong, what went right, and who actually showed up to them. Then we can look forward to tonight’s match-up with the “fearsome” T-Wolves. I crack myself up.
Portland Trailblazers – Wednesday, December 23rd
The Blazers beat the Spurs 98-94 in San Antonio. There were two things that made this one really sting. First, the Blazers already won the first meeting of the season in Portland on November 6th, with a 96-84 final score. Greg Oden’s presence on defense was a huge reason that they were able to pull out that victory, so with Oden likely out for the season, things looked like they could be a little different this time around. That brings me to the other stinging point. The Blazers were without almost everybody. Greg Oden – gone, Batum – still gone, Fernandez – gone, Outlaw – gone, Przybilla – gone, even Brandon Roy – gone. This should have been a gimme, but Jerryd Bayless seemed to have other plans, scoring 31 points and dishing seven assists in the win over the Spurs. LaMarcus Aldridge finished with 22 points and eight rebounds.
I have to give it up to the Blazers for not rolling over and playing dead, but the Spurs were exposed yet again for a lack of focus and anything resembling a killer extinct. They had 13 turnovers and shot 6-of-21 from downtown in the game – that’s barely 29% and is the epitome of “shooting yourself out of the game”. They shot 16-of-17 from the foul line and 51.4% from the field overall, so obviously this was a case of not playing aggressive basketball.
Who Showed Up
Tony Parker: 16 points (7-of-9 from the field), 4 assists, 3 rebounds – but the 3 turnovers hurt, not to mention getting lit up by Bayless.
Tim Duncan: 24 points, 11 rebounds, 3 assists, 1 block – but 3 more turnovers.
Roger Mason: 16 points, 4 rebounds, 4 assists, and shot 6-of-11 from the field including 4-of-7 from downtown.
Richard Jefferson: 18 points, 1 rebound, 1 assist, 1 turnover – 18 points and I call it a bad game because he didn’t really do anything else. He needs to be more involved than just shooting.
Milwaukee Bucks – Saturday, December 26th
The Spurs played a little better in this game, winning 112-97. They still turned the ball over 16 times, but they held the Bucks to 43% shooting. Then again, the Bucks can’t shoot anyway – and they still managed to score 97 points. Nevermind, I’m just glad the Spurs won. Hakim Warrick led the Bucks with 23 points off the bench.
Who Showed Up
Tony Parker: 16 points, 8 assists, 2 rebounds – and only one turnover for a change.
DeJuan Blair: 12 rebounds, 8 points, 3 assists, 1 steal, 1 block – and he finally played more than 20 minutes (25:37 to be exact). Not a fan of the three turnovers though.
Tim Duncan (duh): 26 points, 8 rebounds, 4 assists, 1 steal and 1 block. Good times.
Antonio McDyess: 14 points, 6 rebounds, 1 steal – Long time, no see – it’s about time Dice showed up to a game again. I was ready to start prodding him with a stick.
Manu Ginobili: 13 points, 8 assists, 3 rebounds, 2 steals. 5-of-6 from the field including one trey, 2-of-2 from the line, only 1 turnover. Very effective game from Ginobili, but in +/- he was a -8, which goes to show you how stupid that stat is.
Richard Jefferson: 11 points, 5 rebounds, 2 assists. Not the greatest game, but at least he crashed the boards a little and didn’t just keep chuckin’ the rock – he was 4-of-10 for the night.
New York Knicks – Sunday, December 27th
The Spurs won this game 95-88. Good News: They held the Knicks under 90 points, shot 50.6% from the field, and won the game. Bad news: They committed another 13 turnovers, and couldn’t really stop anyone in the Knicks’ frontcourt. David Lee finished with 28 points and 10 boards, and Danilo Gallinari and Al Harrington finished with 19 points each. Of course no one in New York can rebound outside of Lee, so the Spurs had a 42-32 rebounding edge which made the difference – well that and the poor shooting for the Knicks.
Who Showed Up
Tony Parker: 22 points, 3 rebounds, 3 assists, 1 block. He had 2 turnovers, but considering how turnover-prone he has been this season – that’s an improvement. His A/T ratio still sucks.
Tim Duncan: 13 points, 7 rebounds, 1 assist, 1 block – but 4 turnovers – yeesh.
DeJuan Blair: 8 points, 10 rebounds, 2 assists, 1 steal, 2 blocks, and you guessed it, 3 more turnovers. I’m still not feeling that, but at least Blair played 35 minutes – it’s about freaking time.
Manu Ginobili: 17 points, 4 rebounds, 3 assists, 2 steals. Not to be outdone, he had two turnovers of his own.
Minnesota Timberwolves – Tuesday, December 29th
Tonight the Spurs face the team who seems to have Utah’s number. The Wolves have defeated the Jazz twice this season, which doesn’t really mean anything except that the Jazz have defeated the Spurs three times this season. I don’t really believe in the whole, “If team A can beat team B, and Team B can beat team C, then team A can beat team C” thing. This is basketball not algebra, but I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t “concerned”. The Wolves are pretty bad though, so I can only be worried so much… oop, there it goes, not worried anymore. The Spurs are 17-11 and feast on losing teams. Minny is one of the worst right now at 7-24, although they have won two straight coming into this match-up. Who cares? I am feeling brazen and cocky today so I say Spurs by at least 15, and the Wolves won’t score more than 89 points.