El Conclusión: San Antono Spurs 117, Sacramento Kings 112

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San Antonio Spurs 117 FinalRecap | Box Score 112 Sacramento Kings
Tim Duncan, C 30 MIN | 9-18 FG | 0-0 FT | 8 REB | 2 AST | 18 PTS | +14
Managed to hold his own in a battle of generations. There are nights when Tim Duncan goes to a post move, makes a hard spin off a defender, and does not have enough lift after the pivot to put up a soft shot. Tonight was not one of those nights, with Duncan pulling off that move late in the game and dropping a beautifully placed bank shot that settled softly into the net.
Kawhi Leonard, SF 33 MIN | 8-11 FG | 0-0 FT | 9 REB | 2 AST | 19 PTS | +14
Kawhi Leonard has been allowed to be a special rookie mostly because the Spurs haven’t asked him to be. His role on the team has been simple, clearly defined, and well within the limits of his fledgling skill set. Since claiming the full-time starting small forward spot, however, we’ve seen Leonard experiment a little more on the fringes of his skill set, confidently taking shots from different locations, pushing the ball on his own accord, and trusting his instincts more on both sides of the ball.He’s not been in the league long enough to get a handle on what his theoretical ceiling might be, and yet, he’s constantly changing it with performances like this one.
DeJuan Blair, F 23 MIN | 3-6 FG | 2-2 FT | 4 REB | 4 AST | 8 PTS | +3
We might have to give up on the notion of DeJuan Blair being a monster on the boards. What he has settled into is an important cog in the Spurs pick and roll and motion heavy offense, and a woefully underrated interior passer, which fits nicely into the direction this team has taken.
Tony Parker, PG 31 MIN | 4-11 FG | 1-2 FT | 7 REB | 10 AST | 10 PTS | +14
Tony Parker’s MVP run might be over, with the team no longer needing to lean so heavily on his scoring exploits. But the improvement is still visible on nights like these. Even struggling some from the field, Parker was able to create opportunities for his teammates far beyond what his 10 assists would suggest.
Daniel Green, G 15 MIN | 3-7 FG | 0-1 FT | 0 REB | 1 AST | 7 PTS | -2
The difficult part for someone in Danny Green’s situation, who flourished with the ample opportunities provided by injuries, is to still be a valuable contributor once those minutes and opportunities are reduced. It takes a specific mindset to do more with less, which might sum up why Green—a glue guy on stack North Carolina teams in college—has had a better go of things than James Anderson.
Stephen Jackson, SG 28 MIN | 4-5 FG | 0-0 FT | 3 REB | 0 AST | 8 PTS | +8
Critics worried about Stephen Jackson’s ability to conform to the Spurs offense and defensive schemes did not take into account that within those systems there is some built-in leeway to deviate. In fact, for a Spurs team that has always relied on textbook execution, sometimes that deviation can actually help that system flourish with its unpredictability.Jackson is a competitor and gives the Spurs an edge. Most of the time when we write about it, we look at the offense without acknowledging how it manifests on the defensive end. Where Jefferson merely tried to stay within the Spurs schemes, Jackson gets into his opponent and tries to create plays.
Boris Diaw, PF 18 MIN | 0-2 FG | 0-0 FT | 4 REB | 2 AST | 0 PTS | -4
Perhaps a reason for Boris Diaw’s perceived passivity is that he breaks down defenses far better than he breaks down his individual defenders. That is to say that while he struggles to create great separation from his defender, he has a keen sense of knowing that if he gets to a particular spot it will draw enough attention to free a teammate.I’m somewhat of a slow, out of shape point guard so it’s certainly something I can certainly relate to. Fortunately Diaw can thread gorgeous passes through small windows, and is on a team with enough moving parts to accentuate his strengths and hide his weaknesses.
Manu Ginobili, SG 25 MIN | 8-12 FG | 1-1 FT | 1 REB | 5 AST | 20 PTS | -1
There are varying degrees of an effective Manu Ginobili. There is the Ginobili that has enough legs to destroy a team from outside with just enough guile to complement it with a healthy dose of free throws to boost his scoring. There is Manu Ginobili, maestro of the pick and roll. And finally there is the Manu Ginobili that combines the first two degrees with a supernatural ability to change directions at impossible angles and speeds. That guy is slowly coming back.
Gary Neal, PG 15 MIN | 4-8 FG | 4-4 FT | 0 REB | 1 AST | 13 PTS | -6
Freed from primary ball handling responsibilities, Gary Neal can now focus on strengths, which are shooting and secondary playmaking skills against a broken defense.
Tiago Splitter, C 15 MIN | 3-6 FG | 1-2 FT | 6 REB | 1 AST | 7 PTS | -9
Not a bad return from back spasms, though I worry that we may never see the Tiago Splitter that was emerging before the first injury for the rest of this season. That guy was commanding double teams in the post and hitting that awkward hook shot with extreme confidence.
Patrick Mills, PG 6 MIN | 3-5 FG | 0-0 FT | 0 REB | 0 AST | 7 PTS | -4
If this is what the Spurs can expect from Patrick Mills, they’ll be more than thrilled. With so many passers and playmakers on board, all the Spurs really ask from their backup point guard is a commitment to push the pace, knock down open shots, and relieve Ginobili and Gary Neal of some of the ball-handling burden.

Five Things We Saw

  1. This team is deep. Now that Cory Joseph is back in Austin, every single player on the roster is a viable and valuable rotation player. It will be interesting to see, heading into the playoffs, whether Popovich trims the rotation down to seven or eight players or continues to utilize the full extent of the roster.
  2. It’s early, and we might not see extended runs this season, but lineups including Manu Ginobili, Boris Diaw, and Tiago Splitter have the potential to be exceedingly fun. The entire roster, up and down, seems to have a great understanding of space and timing, but few in the NBA understand it as brilliantly as these three. So much ball movement!!!
  3. R.C. Buford, executive of the year. Just saying.
  4. Isaiah Thomas, joy to watch.
  5. Deep as the roster is, it’s going to be prone to uneven play at times, especially on the defensive end. Right now, when evaluating the Spurs, look for the various runs the team makes and how the lineups during those runs function together. That this whole mess is working right now is a testament to the basketball IQs of the players.I’m not going to say that this is the smartest team the Spurs have ever had, because they’re veritable geniuses year in and year out, but this definitely is the best combination of basketball intelligence AND varying, versatile skill sets that we have seen in some time.
  • http://oniondome.wordpress.com Mark

    Hi –

    Big fan of 48MoH. In the future, do you think you could post the player name’s and stat lines in bold face font? When I get the feed in my web browser it is sometimes hard to read.

    Thanks a ton

  • Bduran

    I’m not sure Blair is really having a rebound problem. Blair is not rebounding well on the defensive end yet we are the #1 defensive rebounding team. He is still doing a great job on the offensive glass, he’s our best by a large margin, and this is what we are lacking as a team.

  • Bob

    I think we need to see the Tiago from earlier in the year to have a chance to compete. The same thing with Manu. If we can get both of those guys playing better we will have a big 4 plus Kawhi and SJax and Diaw.

  • http://www.twitter.com/calebjsaenz Caleb

    So you’re saying from now on you want to be called “Boris” at OP? Done.

  • theghostofjh

    Bduran:

    Yes, I’ve made similar points recently. However, IMO, DJB should still be rebounding better overall, offensively and defensively. But you’re right, the players he plays with are having good rebounding years, especially at the defensive end. Duncan is 2nd or 3rd in the entire league in DRR, and Leonard looks to be one of the best rebounding SF’s in the league as well (ranked 5th in NBA in rebounds per 48 mins., at 10.5 — Lebron James is just ahead of him at 10.6). I would just like to see DJB at bit more aggressive on the glass, work on his box-out fundamentals, and his anticipation skills as far as getting position for where the ball is likely to go.

  • Hobson13

    I have to agree. This team is crazy deep now that the Spurs have added at least two (Jax and Diaw) more viable players and possibly a 3rd with Patty Mills. The good thing is that in the last games, different young players have stepped up to lead the team

    vs Minny: the combo of Leonard, Green, and Neal produced 46pts, 17 rebs, and 5 stls
    vs Dallas: Danny Green led with 18pts, 6rebs, 6assts
    vs Hornets: Blair led with 23pts, 7 rebs
    vs Philly: Parker led, but Blair had 19pts and 6rebs
    vs Suns: Duncan led, but Leonard had 14pts and 7rebs
    vs Sacto: Leonard led the way with 19pts and 9 rebs

    I don’t think Pop will shorten the rotation too much in the playoffs. The only player that I don’t think will see serious minutes is Mills. I see Pop experimenting quite a bit in this years playoffs because he has so many options. If one player is having an off night, then Pop will pull him for someone else.

    I also think that such a versatile team will allow Pop to dictate matchups better in the playoffs. We have the ability to play small ball or even go big with Tim, Tiago, Leonard, Jax, and Manu. One thing for sure is that this year’s version of the Spurs maybe the biggest Swiss Army knife of a team in the entire NBA.

  • theghostofjh

    What’s with the new comment format?

    Can’t reply to specific comments?

    Can’t edit a comment?

    Also, the OLDER comments are listed first?

    And it doesn’t tell you how long ago (hours/mins.) a comment was posted.

  • theghostofjh

    One little interesting note highlighting our depth from the King’s game:

    We had 5 players in double figures scoring, but we also had 5 additional players with 7+ points. Minutes played among the ten players ranged from 6 to 33.

  • idahospur

    I know with Manu injured, trading off RJ, and the difficulty of a shortened season that we would have many different starting lineups. How many have we had this season? When are things looking like we can get this locked down for the playoffs?

  • SAJKinBigD

    @ghost: I’m not complaining! Just happy to be able to comment again! :)

    I agree with Hobson, I don’t think Pop’ll shorten the bench much, and depending on how well Mills can mesh, mebbe not at all. I like the potential of Mills and how he knows the sets and such already from his time with the Oz Nat’l team and Brett B.

    I’d REALLY love to see this team have another 50-win team this season! Whaddya’ll think? ;^)

  • ziijordan

    @SAJKinBigD

    I think that a 50 win season will be very difficult to achieve. Especially that we will finish the season with 16 games in 22 days.

    We have a back-to-back-to-back with a game against the Lakers at LA. Plus we have plenty of back to back games and 5 games in 6 nights.

    Our last few games, if we hold on to that no.2 spot, Pop will rest all the starters so he can avoid last year’s tragic Manu injury in the last game.

  • SAJKinBigD

    I know, @ziijordan! Just some wishful thinking. I’ve been dreading that finish with all those B2Bs and that B2B2B. Ugh.
    Still, I can wish and dream! :D The kids can play on this team!

  • Matthew S

    I think that when free agency comes the Spurs need to go out and snag Brian Scalabrine. He has the potential to be the next Black Mamba.

  • spursfanbayarea

    Was at the game last night. Great win and even more impressive given how many games we played. 5 games in 6 nights. Observations from the game. Could see that parker was definitely tired. didnt have the usual quick bursts. But parker still did what was needed in fourth. Also what was impressive was how kawai got his points. Mostly off of hustle and no set plays. The kings could not keep up with our high low post passing. generated so many open looks. splitter was a bit rusty and got owned by cousins.

  • Titletown99030507d

    @spursfanbayarea

    Everybody got owned by Cousins. Even Timmy and Blair. He lost some weight and it helped his game not to mentioned his head is screwed on a little better this season. His the real deal.

  • Miggy

    “he has a keen sense of knowing that if he gets to a particular spot it will draw enough attention to free a teammate.” I think this quote hits the nail on the head when it comes to Diaw, Mr. Blanchard.

    There seems to be no joy in Cousins play, just plain seems angry and melancholy all the time.

    Wow! 5 wins in 6 nights, with at least one major player resting in each of the games. Now that’s coaching and depth for you.

  • junierizzle

    I really like our chances. 1)Memphis hasn’t seen us with a healthy Many AND a focused TP.Not to mention We our a completely different team with Jackson, Leonard, Green, Diaw and now Mills.
    2)We can totally hang with OKC, always have been able to. Experience really counts in that match up.
    3)Lakers don’t believe in their system. They are basically The Cavaliers West. And they probably have the worst bench of any so called “contender.” We have the best bench in the game. Certainly a better bench then Memhpis,OKC and Lakers at least.

  • Dr.Who

    Diaw – We haven’t had a skillset like this since Horry. Not big shot making, but a 4 that can spread the floor with his jumper, play good positional defense, high BB IQ and exceptional passing skills. He’s a perfect fit for this team. You can’t fault him for passing up shots on this team. We don’t need him to score and he is yet another distributor. He doesn’t have the physical limitations of Blair and has an extremely deep skillset compared to Bonner. Great fit for this team.

    Patty Mills – I’ve been high on him since he was in Portland. He’s here for 2 years. He’s blazing fast, solid point guard and can hit 3’s. Ge’ll be out best backup PG since Speedy Clax if he can get enough minutes. He’ll be key in keeping Manu an TP’s legs fresh for the playoffs. The guy can ball. Our FO scored a major value in Patty. He’ll be a plus in the lcokeroom as well.

    Jax – in limited minutes we’ve seen more versatile play from Jax than we ever saw from RJ. More fire, more defense and most importantly… At the end of the game, he’s on the court. RJ and his millions was usually on the bench.

    Had no idea the season would unfold like this. Nothing short of incredible. The move for Leonard was just the start to a special season.

  • DorieStreet

    @ Hobson 13 & SAJKinBigD:
    I’m with you about the rotation not be shortened for the playoffs. This is the team’s strength. Being able to put 10 players in various combinations out there on the court gives the Spurs options for each series to go negate/overcome a particular team’s strengths and exploit possible weakness.
    And– the franchise finds out who they keep going forward next season and beyond when the Core 3 reach the end of their careers –hopefully after getting another title (or two).

  • DorieStreet

    Correction: “Being able to put TWELVE players…..”–I did not mean to slight anyone.
    Will James Anderson and Justin Dentmon remain active for the playoffs?

  • Titletown99030507d

    @Miggy.

    “There seems to be no joy in Cousins play, just plain seems angry and melancholy all the time.”

    Just like Troy Aikman all his career? It’s just facial expression, deep down he’s probably enjoying the game. It could be his zone look like Troy had.

  • Titletown99030507d

    @theghostofjh,

    It’s not that Blair has to rebound better its guys like Kawhi and Timmy being the monsters that they are at the glass as well. Nothing wrong with Blair getting 5-8 rebounds when those other two are getting theirs as well.

  • theghostofjh

    @Titletown99030507d

    Well, the problem is the Spurs are ranked a mediocre 15th in the league in total rebound rate. I’d like to at least see us crack into the top ten. And the fact is, Blair is under-performing the most in relation to his capabilities out of all of our front court players.

  • Bduran

    theghostofjh,

    The problem is, I don’t think there is much Blair can do to up our rebound rate. While I would like to see him do a better job on the defensive glass, it’s hard to imagine that he could do much to improve our defensive rebound rate. It seems likely any defensive rebounds he grabs would be at the expense of our players, and not the opponents. Right now, he’s 11th in the league in offensive rebound rate so there’s not much room for improvement there. The reason we’re only an average rebounding team is because of our offensive rebounding.
    Honestly, I think this is due in large part to Pop. He coaches his team to get back in transition which causes us to miss out on a lot of long defensive rebounds that other teams get. Neither of our last two championship teams were great on the offensive glass, one was average the other was bad.

  • theghostofjh

    @Bduran

    Yeah, you make a good point.

  • theghostofjh

    What happened to all the previous comments?