In the span of 24 hours, the Spurs went from beating an elite Eastern team in Boston in a blowout, to losing to the lowliest team in the league in New Jersey. I like to blame Keith Bogans, but when you lose to the freaking Nets there’s plenty of blame to go around.
The Boston Blowout: (Spurs over Celtics: 94-73)
Let’s go over the Boston game first… then maybe I will run out of steam and not have to rip the Spurs so much for losing last night. The Spurs handed the Celtics a 21-point loss on Sunday, their worst home loss of the season. San Antonio outscored Boston 33-17 in the 3rd and that was all she wrote. Amazingly, the Spurs had 16 turnovers to only 10 for the Celtics, but a rebounding edge of 48-37 (14-9 offensive) helped the Spurs take command of this game. Also, the Celtics flat out couldn’t shoot, going 37% in the game including 1-of-14 from downtown.
Manu Ginobili was brilliant as usual, dropping 28 points along with seven dimes, three boards, and a steal. He was the high-scorer of the game and played 36 minutes – in a blowout -we’ll get back to those minutes. Tim Duncan was kind of pedestrian in the box score with only eight points and nine rebounds, but he only had to play about 27 minutes. Richard Jefferson had one of his best nights with his first double-double in forever. He finished with 16 points, 11 rebounds, and three assists. He shot 6-of-11 from the field and played only about 29 minutes. March has been kind to RJ and the glass is starting to look half-full with him in a Spurs uniform. George Hill also finished in double-figures with 15 points, three boards, three assists, and three steals.
For the Celtics, KG had a double-double with 12 points and 10 boards, and Pierce led Boston with 18 points. Then there was Michael Finley. You remember him, right? He’s the old guy who lost his mojo then decided he was worthy of more minutes on a contender or something and requested to be released from the team about a month or so back. Well, he played 13 minutes, went 0-of-2 from the field and committed two fouls. Oh, and he had one rebound. Wow, how could we have let this guy go?
The New Jersey Debacle: (Nets over Spurs: 90-84)
Then, just when it seemed the Spurs were a team to be reckoned with, it all came crashing back down. Manu Ginobili, who played 36 minutes the night before, had to sit out this game with back spasms. When I first heard about him sitting out, I figured it was more precautionary than anything – and it probably was. Afterall, if there is a team to rest players against, it should be the Nets. Well, the Spurs were already down Parker, so sitting Ginobili meant there was no real playmaker in the lineup. The Spurs also lost Roger Mason in the first half to a sprained finger. He played only nine minutes, but was actually having a pretty good game when he was hurt. He finished with seven points on 3-of-5 shooting, making his only three-point attempt, and dishing out two assists. The Spurs still controlled the game until halfway through the 4th quarter, though. Then the Spurs fell victim to miscommunication and carelessness. The Spurs had 16 turnovers for the second straight game, while the Nets had only four. That pretty much neutralized the 53-43 rebounding edge the Spurs had, as well as the fact that New Jersey shot only 37.6% in the game. They ended up with three more shot attempts and four more free-throw attempts – speaking of which, the Spurs only shot 11-of-20 from the stripe compared to New Jersey’s 21-of-24. It all came down to the Nets wanting it more and taking this game more seriously. The NJ players stepped up and played with some pride while the Spurs simply went through the motions and got smashed in the mouth for it.
George Hill led all the Spurs with 19 points, four rebounds, and three assists. Tim Duncan had a double-double with 13 points, 12 rebounds, four assists, and two blocks. He also had four turnovers though – see “4th quarter miscommunication”. Richard Jefferson had a nice game with 16 points, five rebounds, a team-leading five assists, and one block. Matt Bonner finished with 10 points, nine rebounds, three assists, and one steal. DeJuan Blair also had a double-double with 11 points, 11 rebounds, and one assist.
That brings us to Keith Bogans. When the two best backcourt players on the team are sitting out, this is the time to step up your game and carry some of the load. Instead of doing that, Bogans started the game, played 19 minutes, and finished with this stat line: One point, one rebound, three fouls, 0-of-2 from the field, 1-of-4 from the free throw line. Are you kidding me? Can someone check this guy for a pulse? A Heart? A Jump Shot? Something… please? That is ridiculous. I am not saying that Bogans lost the game single-handedly, but I am saying he should be forced to earn minutes behind Malik Hairston and not the other way around. Hairston, by the way, finished with four points on 2-of-4 shooting, and five rebounds in 26 minutes. No, he is not “the answer”, but it sure as hell isn’t Bogans. I just hope Popovich has seen enough so that we don’t have to endure KB in the playoffs.
By the way, I am also growing tired of Antonio McDyess’s so-so games since he went back into the starting lineup. It’s not a huge issue when the Spurs are winning, but I don’t know how much more I can watch him play 20 minutes or so and not break double-digits in scoring or rebounds. He’s had exactly two double-doubles this year, one in November and one earlier in March (against the Knicks). He has only grabbed double-digit rebounds one other time this month and hasn’t scored in double-figures at all outside of that Knicks game. This is not a matter of minutes, or playing Blair over him – Dice just needs to play better, period.
Ginobili To Test Free Agency
From the San Antonio Express-News, Ginobili is ready to test the free agent market this summer. If we lose him this summer then it will go down as strike two for the Spurs management (strike one being the Luis Scola misfire).
“I know I’m going to get a job,” Ginobili said Monday before sitting out the Spurs’ 90-84 loss at New Jersey with back spasms. “It doesn’t matter where or how. I’m not going to be unemployed.”
Spurs Sign Gee … Huh? Who?
This is also from the San Antonio Express-News:
The Spurs signed forward Alonzo Gee for the remainder of the season, bringing their roster to the NBA’s maximum 15.
Gee, a 6-foot-6 rookie from Alabama, became available after Washington declined to pick him up for the rest of the year after he completed the second of two 10-day contracts Sunday.
The Spurs sweetened their offer to Gee, who played for the team’s summer league entry in Las Vegas and spent most of the season with its Development League affiliate in Austin, by including a make-good offer for next season that would bring him to training camp.
Since Gee joins the roster after March 1, he will be ineligible for the playoffs.