El Conclusion: San Antonio Spurs 128, New Orleans Hornets 103
|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
- 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.
- The Spurs have done it again. Patrick Mills will be to the Blazers what Danny Green is to the Cavaliers.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.”