El Conclusión: San Antonio Spurs 106, New Orleans Hornets 102
|Tiago Splitter, PF 32 MIN | 10-11 FG | 5-6 FT | 7 REB | 1 AST | 2 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 25 PTS | +13
While it doesn’t command as much attention as carving out space on the low block and bullying defenders into submission, the easiest way for a big man to score is by setting a good pick. In this regard Tiago Splitter did a fantastic job, freeing Tony Parker to get into the middle of the paint and then finding the open lanes to dive into.
|Stephen Jackson, SF 29 MIN | 6-10 FG | 0-0 FT | 1 REB | 3 AST | 0 STL | 1 BLK | 1 TO | 15 PTS | +1
Stephen Jackson had a season-high 15 points tonight, including a nice little step back 3-pointer in the first quarter. It’s the little things he brings on defense that caught my attention tonight, rotating over and getting his hands in driving and passing lanes just enough to muck up pick-and-rolls in Tim Duncan’s absence.
|Boris Diaw, C 28 MIN | 0-1 FG | 0-2 FT | 4 REB | 3 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 0 PTS | -11
I’ve never seen someone attempt to pump fake a layup while standing completely stationary and flat-footed until tonight.
|Tony Parker, PG 36 MIN | 10-18 FG | 4-7 FT | 4 REB | 13 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 24 PTS | -8
Tony Parker was excellent in every regard tonight. Most impressive was his ability to manipulate the defense with a glance, hesitation, or change of body positioning to create clearer passing lanes. These are things elite, ‘traditional’ point guards do, and it’s safe to say Parker has worked his way among them.
|Danny Green, SG 29 MIN | 5-11 FG | 0-0 FT | 7 REB | 0 AST | 2 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 12 PTS | +6
Danny Green finally got a handle on Eric Gordon, shutting the Hornets shooting guard down in the second half after early foul trouble in the first quarter. Offensively managed a nice eight-point blitz in the second quarter. Pulled down seven rebounds, several of them in heavy traffic.
|Matt Bonner, PF 21 MIN | 3-7 FG | 0-1 FT | 4 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 1 BLK | 1 TO | 7 PTS | +3
Tired of auditioning for the 3-point shooting contest, Matt Bonner went to work in the paint with a nifty turnaround hook and a driving reverse layup. Shades of Hakeem and Dr. J indeed.
|DeJuan Blair, C 7 MIN | 1-1 FG | 0-2 FT | 4 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 2 PTS | +5
Had a nice stretch of activity in the first half, helping stem some of the bleeding and cleaning up the glass.
|Gary Neal, PG 27 MIN | 3-11 FG | 0-0 FT | 3 REB | 2 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 8 PTS | 0
Was out of rhythm for most of the night, possibly from exerting so much energy from trying to defend Eric Gordon (unsuccessfully).
|Nando de Colo, PG 14 MIN | 2-3 FG | 0-0 FT | 4 REB | 2 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 4 PTS | +7
Moved the ball well as always, including a nifty pass that just eluded Splitter’s grasp. Provided a solid performance backing up Parker.
|Manu Ginobili, SG 17 MIN | 3-7 FG | 3-5 FT | 1 REB | 5 AST | 3 STL | 1 BLK | 1 TO | 9 PTS | +4
In his first game back Manu Ginobili eased his way into the game, working primarily as a facilitator in the pick-and-roll. Provided a nice Manu moment as well, threading a bounce pass through a defender’s legs for a DeJuan Blair layup.
Spurs coach Gregg Popovich called in sick tonight. If he was in any way faking it, one would imagine he was feeling pretty terrible after the first half. In his stead, coach Mike Budenholzer was steady and calm on the sidelines, after dropping a few expletives at halftime, of course.
Five Things We Saw
- It should be a foregone conclusion that Tony Parker is an All-Star. Perhaps the most promising development from Parker these past two years is he no longer manipulates defenses with just his speed and quickness, but by the subtle nuances mastered by the NBA’s best point guards. Perhaps it’s not something that came natural to Parker, but it’s something he’s worked his way to.
- One thing that separates Tiago Splitter from a lot of big men in the NBA in pick-and-rolls is simply body control. He does a fantastic job of diving hard to the rim while maintaining enough control to stop short of or avoid a rotating defender attempting to draw a charge. And like Parker, he also very adept at creating space with his body and still finishing with a soft touch at the rim.
- Turnovers are a lot easier to avoid when your point guard is dominating a game in the fashion that Parker was tonight. He completely collapsed the Hornets defense, leaving his teammates to operate against a frantically rotating defense and making the game far simpler by limiting the number of plays they have to create.
- The Spurs defense in the second half was much improved, though remains vulnerable against floor-spacing big men with any big of mobility. In Ryan Anderson, Jason Smith, and Anthony Davis the Hornets have three quality pick-and-pop options that troubled the Spurs in the first half. Most of the improvement in the second half came from the perimeter players doing a much better job of limiting initial dribble penetration.
- Eric Gordon is a fantastic player with an ability to sharply change directions of the bounce and finish. For three halves this season, he terrorized the Spurs defense. But he’s also a player guys like Green have little experience against. In the second half Green seemed to have a better grasp on some of Gordon’s tendencies. Notably in the fourth quarter when he cutoff a crossover dribble and stripped Gordon just as he was coming out of his spin.