El Conclusión: San Antonio Spurs 122, Houston Rockets 116
|Tim Duncan, PF 34 MIN | 13-20 FG | 4-4 FT | 5 REB | 0 AST | 30 PTS | +3Duncan was on a point-per-minute scoring binge until sitting late in the third quarter, scoring 28 points in a little over 28 minutes, absolutely destroying Omer Asik on the low block.|
|Tiago Splitter, PF 26 MIN | 3-4 FG | 3-4 FT | 6 REB | 2 AST | 9 PTS | +16Tiago Splitter was someone negated by a pace that moved well beyond his means at times, especially when the Rockets went to a smaller lineup with Parsons at the big forward. Had a nice third quarter power dunk when Parsons tried to pull the chair, displaying tremendous balance.|
|Kawhi Leonard, SF 27 MIN | 1-3 FG | 0-0 FT | 5 REB | 0 AST | 2 PTS | +5Low usage game for Kawhi Leonard, who still got his customary steal and breakaway dunk and pulled down a few big rebounds in traffic. Leonard is becoming adept at timing his gambles off the ball by blitzing the ball handler just as he makes a spin or turns his head.|
|Tony Parker, PG 39 MIN | 11-19 FG | 9-10 FT | 5 REB | 10 AST | 31 PTS | +5More than any Spurs player Tony Parker is built for these high tempo games, a fact he pointed out several times in his post game comments. In a fast paced game Parker created one-man fast breaks where no opportunity should have existed and orchestrated things brilliantly on secondary breaks and in the half court.|
|Danny Green, SG 27 MIN | 5-8 FG | 2-2 FT | 5 REB | 1 AST | 17 PTS | -1There’s no shame in struggling to contain an offensive player as potent as James Harden, especially when he has the green light to pull at any moment. In the first half he did a great job of mitigating Harden’s scoring by finding open spaces to score 17 points of his own. Sometimes the most you can do against a weapon like Harden is to offset him some on the other end.|
|Stephen Jackson, SF 27 MIN | 2-5 FG | 0-0 FT | 2 REB | 1 AST | 5 PTS | +4Stephen Jackson was part of the fourth quarter unit that began making stops to pull away. He no longer has any speed or quickness to speak of, but he uses good angles and a combination of strength and length to make timely defensive plays.|
|DeJuan Blair, C 0 MIN | 0-0 FG | 0-0 FT | 0 REB | 0 AST | 0 PTS | -4No longer in the playing rotation.|
|Boris Diaw, C 20 MIN | 1-2 FG | 0-0 FT | 4 REB | 4 AST | 2 PTS | +9Passed up some shots he should’ve taken but found his way to four assists, including a particularly nice one to Tiago Splitter.|
|Patty Mills, PG 11 MIN | 1-3 FG | 0-0 FT | 0 REB | 0 AST | 3 PTS | +11
Only hit one shot, but his energy on defense helped turn things around in the fourth quarter. Defensively he’s at worst a pest, which is a positive thing for your third string point guard to be. Tonight he hit drew an offensive foul running through a screen and nabbed two steals, including a timely blitz of a James Harden dribble drive that ended in two points for Tony Parker the other way.
|Nando de Colo, PG 4 MIN | 0-1 FG | 0-0 FT | 0 REB | 0 AST | 0 PTS | -14Two quick turnovers spelled an early night for Nando de Colo.|
|Manu Ginobili, SG 24 MIN | 7-12 FG | 4-4 FT | 2 REB | 3 AST | 23 PTS | -4It was a high scoring night that garners a high grade, yes, but it’s also somewhat of an illusion for Ginobili. Five of his seven field goals were three-pointers, including a few of the step back variety. But he also had five turnovers going towards the rim. Right now he’s getting by his initial defender but not beating the second line of defense to the rim.|
|Gregg PopovichGregg Popovich found an effective combination to start the fourth quarter in Diaw, Splitter, Mills, Jackson, and Ginobili (later replaced by Parker), then sticking with Mills and Jackson–each making big defensive plays to help seal the game.|
Five Things We Saw
- Danny Green set the the tone for the Spurs first quarter scoring binge hitting four of five three-pointers. Green repeatedly took advantage of James Harden’s tendency to follow the ball once his assignment passes it, working against his field of vision and moving into open spots for easy shots.
- A difference between the Spurs this year and last is it’s ability to turn to Duncan to calm things down when the pace begins to escape them. Duncan destroyed Asik on a series of turnaround jumpers, hook shots, and a vintage up and under.
- Tiago Splitter made perhaps the most unlikely play of the game, drawing James Harden’s fifth foul on a jump ball of all things at the end of the third quarter. Some will criticize McHale for leaving Harden in, but who can account for a player picking up his fifth foul in a jump ball situation?
- McHale and Popovich both like to feature a lot of pick and rolls, which gives NBA fans an opportunity to pick up some of the subtle nuances point guards add to this play. Jeremy Lin is the latest point guard to utilize backing up into a trailing pick and roll defender to create space and time to assess the defense. On the other end it was fascinating to watch Tony Parker to utilize an in and out dribble to freeze a hard-hedging big man and turn the corner into the middle of the Rockets defense.
- Right now Splitter and Duncan might be the only trustworthy big men in the rotation on a night-to-night basis. Boris Diaw hasn’t hit the consistency he had last year and Bonner and Blair have fallen out of the rotation completely. Right now the fourth and fifth bigs, and on some nights third, are Kawhi Leonard and Stephen Jackson.