El Conclusion: San Antonio Spurs 128, New Orleans Hornets 103

by

New Orleans Hornets 103 Final
Recap | Box Score
128 San Antonio Spurs
Tim Duncan, C 20 MIN | 8-9 FG | 3-4 FT | 6 REB | 2 AST | 19 PTS | +12

The only starter in double figures. Absolutely blew right past the human turnstile that is Chris Kaman. A year ago Duncan appeared to have trouble finishing those drives. He seemed to lack the ability to slow his momentum enough to lay the ball softly at the rim. The brakes, for the moment, seem to be repaired.

Kawhi Leonard, SF 21 MIN | 3-5 FG | 0-0 FT | 4 REB | 1 AST | 6 PTS | +12

Had a sequence guarding Eric Gordon in the open court–not and easy task at all–that showcased his defensive potential. Leonard stayed down on every fake, forced Gordon to set up the offense. Otherwise, a very workman like game for Leonard.

DeJuan Blair, F 19 MIN | 4-9 FG | 1-2 FT | 3 REB | 2 AST | 9 PTS | +10

Watching DeJuan Blair and Carl Landry go at it for a while was actually fairly entertaining. Blair fits this team a little better, what with his extremely underrated interior passing and combination of sense of timing and space. A spearhead through which to channel the Spurs vaunted pick and roll attack.

Tony Parker, PG 16 MIN | 3-6 FG | 1-2 FT | 1 REB | 6 AST | 7 PTS | -1

Nights like tonight won’t help Parker sustain the All-NBA push that he was making through the first part of the season, but the rest will do wonders come playoff time. Very productive in the limited time he had.

Daniel Green, G 15 MIN | 2-4 FG | 0-0 FT | 1 REB | 2 AST | 5 PTS | -3

Eric Gordon gave Green the business in the first quarter, but then, Eric Gordon is one of the best shooting guards in the NBA. A solid but quiet night from Green.

Stephen Jackson, SG 25 MIN | 4-9 FG | 4-4 FT | 7 REB | 1 AST | 13 PTS | +11

I love the seven rebounds as much as the 13 points. All on the defensive side. Don’t underestimate the advantage of guards rebounding and immediately igniting the fast break and early offense opportunities.

Matt Bonner, PF 16 MIN | 2-5 FG | 0-0 FT | 3 REB | 2 AST | 5 PTS | +14

Played some solid defense, moved the ball, and hit a shot or two.

Boris Diaw, PF 22 MIN | 3-5 FG | 0-0 FT | 4 REB | 0 AST | 6 PTS | +7

Boris Diaw had no assists, which really shows how overrated the statistic can be on an individual level. His ability to see the court, collapse the defense, and make the appropriate pass ignites some of the Spurs best ball movement possessions. A fun game: try and guess which Spur will end up finishing Diaw’s hockey assist. You will start to see the game three passes ahead and be smarter off for it.

Manu Ginobili, SG 21 MIN | 5-6 FG | 2-2 FT | 2 REB | 4 AST | 14 PTS | +29

That one-handed rifle of a pass to Patty Mills was a thing beauty.

Gary Neal, PG 19 MIN | 6-10 FG | 0-0 FT | 1 REB | 4 AST | 13 PTS | +6

Gary Neal is not a good backup point guard, but he is an excellent secondary playmaker. The Spurs second unit is one of the best passing units in all of basketball, and one of the benefits for Neal is it opens up all sorts of driving lanes for him to make plays.

Tiago Splitter, C 11 MIN | 3-3 FG | 4-5 FT | 4 REB | 2 AST | 10 PTS | +10

Tiago Splitter sets some excellent screens, and his ability to free his teammates and find the unoccupied gaps in the defense is almost as important to the Spurs second unit as Manu’s ability to find him.

James Anderson, SG 10 MIN | 2-4 FG | 2-2 FT | 2 REB | 1 AST | 7 PTS | 0

Was as aggressive and productive as you could hope for in his limited minutes.

Patrick Mills, PG 23 MIN | 6-9 FG | 0-0 FT | 2 REB | 4 AST | 14 PTS | +18

There’s a lot to love about Patrick Mills’ performance tonight. What got Popovich the most excited was the play he managed to poke the ball lose from Greivis Vasquez and then draw the offensive foul in the scrum for the ball.

Five Things We Saw

  1. We’ve read over the past two weeks how each of the new additions have fit in immediately in part because each has played in some version of the Spurs system before. After the game Manu Ginobili pointed out a second reason, noting that with the exception of Diaw, they’re not exactly additions. That is to say that Mills and Jackson can immediately fill in the roles and minutes of T.J. Ford and Richard Jefferson. The only player the Spurs have had to make room for is Diaw.
  2. The Spurs have done it again. Patrick Mills will be to the Blazers what Danny Green is to the Cavaliers.
  3. This team genuinely loves playing with each other and it shows. Sometimes I catch the Spurs needlessly making the extra pass, or a skip pass when a simple swing to the corner will do, that ultimately ends with the ball moving all over the place and eventually a layup or wide open three-pointer.
  4. Kawhi Leonard has taken a liking to dunking on people, which is rare coming from someone in a Spurs uniform. But he does so without every smiling or changing his facial expression, so he still fits in perfectly.
  5. Stephen Jackson on his teammates: “I think we all love the game and are humbled to be in the NBA, playing this type of basketball. Having the lifestyles we have. So, we approach the game and play it the right way, and hopefully it rewards at the end of the season.”
  • http://twitter.com/blanchard48moh Jesse Blanchard

    Quick note: It’s been pretty easy to give out “B”‘s, mostly because I don’t think anyone has had time to play a standout game, and because so many people are playing at a solid, consistent level, the Spurs haven’t really needed an “A” game from anyone. 

  • Hobson13

    Spurs also took over top seed in the West.  If the season ended today and all top seeds advanced, we would play Houston in the first round, LA Clippers in the second, and the Thunder in the WCF.  A MUCH easier schedule than if we were second seed playing Denver in the first, Lakers in the second, and OKC in the WCF.  This is why the Spurs should absolutely gun for the top seed even if that means playing the big guns for the remainder of the regular season. 

  • Hobson13

    It’s also tough to grade a game that was out of control by the middle of the second quarter.  Glad Pop gave the stars an easy night and relied on the bench.  Will help the big guns get rested up and the younger guys more experience.

  • Krista

    I like comment #4 on Kawhi.  I actually get annoyed seeing players on other teams preen after a big dunk.  Or stare down the guy they dunked on.  You only get dunked on if you are trying to block it/play defense, or get caught in the wrong place at the wrong time.  It’s rarely only about the dunker outplaying the dunkee.  Even then, act like you’ve been there.  I loved seeing Kawhi dunk that ball.  I loved him going back to play defense right away just as much.

  • JJ

    Am I onto something when I sense that Mills is essentially a slightly poorer man’s version of Tony Parker? Scores first, lightning quick, except that he can hit the three at a higher rate, at least at this short sample. Have the Spurs inadvertently, or “vertently” picked up a TP future replacement?

  • JJ

    Well said. A play like that seems to exemplify the fact that Kawhi fits seamlessly into the Spurs ideology. Head down, fulfill your role and don’t get too excited about yourself.

  • Krista

    Mills certainly seems like TP-lite.  But Corey Joseph is killing it in the D-league.  When Portland sent Mills to the D-league a couple of years ago he put up similar numbers to what Joseph is doing now.  If we keep them both, we’ll be pretty set at PG even when TP starts to slow down.

  • JJ

    Good point. Seeing the Spurs on a much more regular basis than a bum like me, do you believe that Joseph will be able to turn into a starting pg of the future or do you believe his offensive inequities will make him into a forever backup for this Spurs team that is so dependent on its pg to score in the paint and break down a defense like TP has.

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/WBPW327T6XAZCCFQY25HBG6RE4 Cristian

    Wow, I for one dont really wanna play HOU in the 1st round. I’d rather play DEN, or PHX. We would win, the travel between games would be lighter, but I would be a little nervous sometimes. I think we would need 6 games. DEN and PHX we can take in 5 easily. 
    I agree Clippers would be the preferred opp in the 2nd round, although I’d like to get some revenge on Memphis. We owned them this year and I want to beat the crap out of them in our last reg season game.
    Can’t really say anything in regards to the Lakers cuz we haven’t played them yet. We’ll know more about them by the end of the season.

  • Titletown99030507d

    I am shocked Splitter only got 11 lousey minutes in this blowout again. And yet he equaled Blair’s production in half the time. What are you doing Pop? Looks like he’s out of the playoff rotation in rehards to meaningful minutes.

  • Titletown99030507d

    “regards”

  • Krista

    I haven’t had a chance to watch Joseph with the Toros, but I have checked to see how they’re doing and how Joseph is doing.  Players that put up dominant numbers in the D-League seem to do good once they hit the NBA.  I won’t pretend to know enough to predict how good Joseph can be, but I like his chances.

    There was a great podcast last week with Henry Abbott and David Thorpe (NBA Today from Friday, March 30).  Thorpe said he believes some players become what they are due to the team that drafts them.  Teams that develop players well, like the Spurs, give a player the best chance at seeing their ceiling.  The example Thorpe gave was between Derrick Rose, Russell Westbrook and John Wall.  Rose and Westbrook are seen as among the top few PGs in the league,  but Wall seems to be lagging.  The Bulls and Thunder are good at player development while the Wizards are not seen as a great organization.

  • spurs fan in la

    Gordian gonna find enough points to post a “The Margin” article for this game? lol

  • Deeds130

    Amen.

  • Jason

     Nobody knows who will end up 6th 7th 8th and nobody knows who will end up 3rd 4th 5th. The teams are just too close. But I’d rather the Spurs not play Houston because they have really good players due to come back from injury (Lowry, Martin) and may thus be better than their record.

  • Tim in Surrey

    And Little Miss Sunshine finds the grey cloud inside the silver lining yet again…

  • Deeds130

    CJ is YEARS away from showing us what kind of pro he’ll be. Chalmers, Conley, and Landry all had better rookie opportunities than CJ, but each are still showing growth well beyond what most of us would have guessed. The PG pool is just INSANELY stacked with prospects, from Isiah Thomas on up. I just watched another great game from Goran Dragic tonight, securing an upset in Hollywood. Just nuts. It’s way too early to think about who TP’s successor will be. There’s just no point in guessing. Tony easily has 6 seasons left. Well before that, we’ll have a larger need for a backup PG once Manu hangs it up, whenever that is. The roster will continue to change plenty in the TP era. I hope Mills is good enough next year (along with our many other guards) to keep CJ in the DL for most of next season. Let him master the offense, work on his shooting, and develop his leadership to the tune of a DLeague first team award. Then in 2013, let Joseph come up and push, push, push for a chance to run the 2nd unit in SA. In the meantime, I like Green, Neal, Jax, & Mills.

  • theghostofjh

    Mills is a very nice young player, and obviously a good shooter, but he in no way drives it to the cup and finishes like Parker. Nor has he shown the play making skills of Parker. He is still young, however, and appears to have the potential to become a consistent scoring PG with the ability to also create for his teammates. That said, I think the parallels to Parker at this juncture are modest at best (but that does not mean that Mills doesn’t have the chance to become a very good all-around player in his own right over the next few years).

  • theghostofjh

    I agree, Houston is the last team I’d want to see in the first round this year. I just saw them out-battle the Lakers down the stretch tonight in LA without Lowery and Martin. They picked up Camby, Spur killer Dragic has blossomed as a player with more opportunity this year, and the team just has a stronger mind-set this year under coach McHale.

  • grego

    “Kawhi Leonard has taken a liking to dunking on people, which is rare coming from someone in a Spurs uniform. But he does so without every smiling or changing his facial expression, so he still fits in perfectly.”Inside smile. He knows Pop is watching… 

  • Deeds130

    1. Great reporting, Jesse! That quote from Steven Jackson is everything I want in my sports heroes. And it’s clear that Jax means it, and that it’s true. What I also love is that he is perceptive enough to read that in, and articulate that for, his teammates. Wisdom! As with previous Spurs teams, these are a good bunch of guys. They are the opposite of the egopunk stereotype athletes, such as we see with the /akers. GSG!

    2. With OKC, MIA, & LAL all losing tonight, it’s about to get real. These next 4 in 5 nights are against, for my money, 3 of the toughest 9 teams in the league, which I think includes HOU, but doesn’t include DAL, LAC, PHI, ATL, or ORL. (BOS or IND round out the top 10). I’m glad our incredible bench secured light minutes for everyone tonight, let’s make the streak 11 and counting!

  • theghostofjh

    I wouldn’t jump to conclusions on that just yet. I think Pop wants to MAKE SURE that Splitter is healthy for the playoffs. He knows he’ll need him in certain situations and match-ups.

  • theghostofjh

    Houston may beat out Denver for the 7th seed. Without Nene, I’d rather play Denver than Houston in round one, and then the Clippers in round two. But yes, I think getting the number one seed is quite important if we can do it reasonably safely in terms of heath, and reasonably fresh legs for our big three. It really helps than Manu has missed at least about half the year, and TD’s knee seems to have actually improved some compared to the last 2-3 years. That, plus the great depth we have. In fact, 82 points off our bench tonight, with five bench players in double figures. When have you ever seen that before?!

  • Dr. Who

    “The Spurs have done it again. Patrick Mills will be to the Blazers what Danny Green is to the Cavaliers.”
    Um…. Not exactly. Cabs fans didn’t exactly lament the loss of Green. Blazers fans knew they had a player in Mills. I followed him while with the Blazers. That’s why I was so high on the guy. Patty was a fan favorite and Portland fans lot up boards telling Spurs fans we got ourselves a helluva back up PG for near nothing. They knew this kid, his fame and potential. Green… Totally different story. Great pick up. I
    Love how after the game Jax talked about Patty and Diaw being valuable some they are students of the game. Good stuff to hear.

  • Dr. Who

    I hate my &)$&@ iPhone… “fame” = game along with plenty of other misspellings. Dang autocorrect!!!

  • andy

    i’m inclined to believe this too. splitter has shown pretty consistently in his inconsistent minutes that he’ll fit in and play well. the thing he hasn’t shown in the ability to stay truly healthy for a long stretch.

  • DorieStreet

    I took note of that too, but it may be because of the opponent last night. He will get his 20 minutes against the Jazz Easter evening.
    Fans & media commenting on Manu’s pass to Mills, but Jackson got the break started with a quick outlet pass that went over half-court to Ginobili.

  • DorieStreet

    The Spurs could be playing the Jazz or the Suns, but since they play each team twice down the stretch, it looks like SA will help eliminate them.
    It is going to be like last year — Spurs will play someone tough in the first round – it could even be the Grizzlies again. Since there’s no control over who the 7th/8th place foe will be, the Spurs just need to be ready for a battle just like last postseason. Bring them on!

  • DorieStreet

    Carrying on the tradition. I loved the video sequence when the camera panned down the bench and showed all the players (was it the 3rd qtr?). Everyone was focused on the game, with stoic looks on their faces. I think later near the end of the game I saw Kawhi smile a bit.

  • DorieStreet

    Wall is an inferior shooter to both of the other PGs. That being said– 2 guys play for teams that were conference finalists last season and have/had the best record in their conference for most of this season. The third guy’s team has as many victories the last 2 years as the Spurs’ losses  – 35.

  • Aj

    STEPHEN A. SMITH @ESPN………OF ALL WHAT HE SAID ABOUT THE SPURS………..EI SMITH…….U CAN EAT ALL THE ONE U SAID ABOUT THE SPURS……….LOL……..GO SPURS GOOD WIN…….BEAT THE MOUTH OF STEPHEN A SMITH….HAAAAAHAAAAHHAAA LOL

  • DorieStreet

    Don’t forget the guys on NBA Countdown— Micheal Wilbon, Chris Broussard, Magic, John Barry–they are all favoring OKC-Lakers western conference finals matchup.

  • Hobson13

    I think it depends on how teams are playing in the last 8-10 games of the regular season.  Denver could also give the Spurs huge problems with their youth, athleticism, and scoring ability.  In fact, one of our four home losses came to a hot Denver team.  There will be changes in the last 2 spots by the time the playoffs arrive so it’s very difficult to project.

    However, whether we play Houston or Denver, we should be heavily favored to win that series.  It isn’t the first round that concerns me but who we play in the second series.  I think we are guaranteed for a tough matchup in the WCF should we make it that far.

  • Fermar84

    Hi, i am a long time spurs fan and follow this blog ocassionally. I wonder why this title? El conclusion? If you are trying to write in spanish (something like the Latin night) it would be “La Conclusion”.

  • Someone

    They do this because Manu Ginobili’s nickname is ‘El Contusion’, so instead of naming the blog: ‘Post-Game Grades’, they tried adding a bit of insider Spurs knowledge, and made it ‘El Conclusion’, in an homage to everyone’s favorite Spur. 

  • Titletown99030507d

    I got your little miss sunshine.

  • theghostofjh

    Sure, any match-up in the West, even 1st round, could be tough. But I definitely like our chances to prevail against any 1st round opponent this year. We just have too much depth, and a great mixture of youth and experience.

  • Krista

    That was kind of my point.  Tony was a horrible shooter early in his career.  Chip Engelland remade his shot.  Tony works on it every off season, expanding his range.  The Spurs develop their players.

    Wall came into the league with the same or similar expectations that Rose and Westbrook did… super athletic, strong, real high ceiling etc.  The Bulls and Thunder helped them develop.  The Wizards don’t seem to have much of a plan about a system, putting players together that will work well with each other or holding players accountable.  Switch Westbrook and Wall and I’m not sure Westbrook would be held in as high regard as he is.  Put Wall on the Spurs, Bulls, Thunder, Mavs, Rockets, etc., and who knows where he’d be in his development now.

    If you haven’t already, listen to the podcast.

  • TD BestEVER

     I think Splitter/Blair will both get reduced minutes come playoff time…….. With Diaw and Capt. Jack both being able to play the 4 and POP now trusting Diaw to play next to Bonner it really is looking like Diaw may be our 3rd big if he can keep making plays like he did last night………

  • Titletown99030507d

    Yeah I agree plus he can shoot the outside shot as well. Its a good problem to have rolling with 5 bigs that can give decent production. Matchups also will dictate divying up minutes.

  • Bob

     Parker is a better shooter but still not that great. The Grizzlies gave him open space last year and he couldn’t make them pay.

  • Fermar84

    Thanks!!!! I didnt know

  • Kondor

    Manu with B? Seriously? He had +29 in that game. 5-6 shooting, 4 assists including that bullet to Mills. What else would he need to do to get an A? i thought he was by far our best player. Just think about it – we actually lost (or at least scored less points) to NO without Manu on the floor.

  • DorieStreet

    @ Titiletown99030507d–    I feel everyone on the squad knows the team’s strength is the depth & flexibility against any and all teams. Everyone just has to be ready to execute and produce when his # is called. The final 13 games will be about maintaining the second conference spot (getting No. 1 if Spurs maintain and OKC falters down the stretch) and each guy being confident in themselves and their teammates when out on the floor.
     

  • DorieStreet

    I don’t need to listen to the podcast. Since their glory days in the 1970s – the SEVENTIES – this franchise has been abysmal.
    (In the 80′s they were decent, just like the latter part of of th 2000 decade–but still first round playoff fodder.)
    No matter how talented a player is, your will/desire to improve and comepetitive physce is somewhat diminshed when you get immersed in a sorry sports franchise as is the Washington Bullets/Wizards.

  • DorieStreet

    Excuse me for the typo  -   ‘psyche’

  • Krista

    I apologize if my assumption is wrong, but you seem to be arguing with me, yet saying essentially the same thing.  A bad franchise can hurt a players development.  That was the point of both my comments above related to the podcast and player development.

    The podcast is a good listen, but if you don’t want to listen, don’t.  I just found it informative.

  • Bentleymichael49

    Yeah those countdown crew guys and ESPN analysts will never give the spurs the respect they deserve. I think it’s gone too far and it’s a shame the spurs are continually disrespected and ridiculed by the media for playing a winning brand of basketball. I think ironically only skip bayless and nba.com give the spurs the respect they deserve. I hope they get this championship and shove it in the throats of all the naysayers

  • Bob

     The Spurs have typically won when they didn’t get the national attention. They haven’t shown they can win when they have the attention.

  • Bb

     they didn ‘t give him space. Why would they since he was the only offensive threat ?