El Conclusión: San Antonio Spurs 101, Houston Rockets 95

by

Houston Rockets 95 Final
Recap | Box Score
101 San Antonio Spurs
Tim Duncan, C 38 MIN | 7-17 FG | 3-6 FT | 11 REB | 5 AST | 17 PTS | +8

Played a lot of minutes, but he played like the Tim Duncan old… err, young. Missed free throws and all.

Richard Jefferson, SF 37 MIN | 3-8 FG | 0-0 FT | 2 REB | 4 AST | 9 PTS | +3

Didn’t shoot great but made enough plays to stay in the game. He’ll have better nights, but this wasn’t RJ regressing to the disappointing play of old.

DeJuan Blair, F 16 MIN | 4-6 FG | 1-1 FT | 3 REB | 0 AST | 9 PTS | +1

He pulled up for a jumpshot on the first play of the game without hesitation and knocked it down. That was pretty much the highlight of his night.

Tony Parker, PG 45 MIN | 12-22 FG | 4-4 FT | 5 REB | 8 AST | 28 PTS | +13

He needs to just sleep through tomorrow on into Friday. Like RJ, Tony Parker made enough plays for the Spurs tonight.

Kawhi Leonard, SF 38 MIN | 5-12 FG | 1-2 FT | 8 REB | 0 AST | 11 PTS | +13

Kawhi is a player. He’s got a future for the Spurs.

Matt Bonner, PF 23 MIN | 3-6 FG | 0-0 FT | 4 REB | 1 AST | 7 PTS | -1

His help defense looked better, but he’s still not getting a lot of looks on the perimeter.

Daniel Green, G 19 MIN | 2-6 FG | 0-0 FT | 4 REB | 1 AST | 5 PTS | 0

An improvement over last night, but he still hasn’t recaptured the magic of last week.

Gary Neal, PG 21 MIN | 3-10 FG | 1-2 FT | 1 REB | 2 AST | 7 PTS | -5

Gary looked tired tonight. Several of his shots were as flat as west Texas when leaving his hand.

Tiago Splitter, C 24 MIN | 3-5 FG | 2-2 FT | 4 REB | 1 AST | 8 PTS | -2

Tiago Splitter is a hustle player. He made plenty of those types of plays tonight, though his numbers don’t quite reflect that.

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

I still firmly believe that James will get a chance to recapture a place in the Spurs rotation again this season. It’ll happen.

Five Things We Saw

  1. Pop relied heavily on a lineup of Parker, Leonard, RJ, Tiago and Duncan. I’m guessing that’s what Pop feels is his best defensive lineup that doesn’t take too much away on offense.
  2. I don’t care how old and slow he gets, I love watching Tim Duncan play basketball.
  3. Kawhi Leonard took a deep breath before nailing the free throw that put the Spurs up four late.
  4. It’s games like this that will earn the trust of his teammates for Kawhi Leonard, if they hadn’t already. He’s someone you can count on to make a play.
  5. I don’t know what Pop’s strategy is, long term, this season with the minutes the core guys played the last couple of games. When is the last time Parker played 40+ minutes and Duncan just below 40 in the regular season? This is not sustainable.
  • TD BestEVER

    TP played well…..even better to up his trade value……lets get him out of here before he reverts back to his normal AVERAGE self.

  • http://profiles.google.com/nadeemmoulvi Nadeem Moulvi

    I normally agree with your grades, but Timmy does not deserve an A grade for tonight. 17 points on 17 shots with several clutch FTs and open shots missed. I would probably give him a B.

  • Hobson13

    No joke.  Pump up his trade value by running the offense through him then let him go around the trade deadline.  I still think Parker has a lot of gas left in the tank.  Sure his scoring is down, but I’m not sure he is in prime basketball condition considering we had no training camp and only 2 preseason games.  On a positive note, he is having a career year in the assist category.

  • Anonymous

    I didn’t expect to see KL getting so many minutes at SG, and we saw even more of it tonight. I like it, except for the fact that it means the guards on this roster aren’t as good as I thought they were. It will be interesting to see if CJ outplays Neal at the one, while Ford and Manu are out.

  • grego

    RJ and him switch it up, depending on what’s going on. I think it’s more a reflection on Leonard’s raw talents than anything else. Spurs have always used their 2s as 3s and likewise. With a small front line when Blair and Bonner in, Leonard is a lot of times at the glass often, for instance while a Bonner is near the arc, for instance. 

  • Anonymous

    I think people are being hard on TP, including last night’s game. Team’s are game planning solely on Tony now that Manu’s gone down (and our 3 pt guy’s). Outside of this we don’t really have many weapons. I’d say playmaking goes about 40% Tony, 50% Manu & 10% other. Since Manu went down, we’ve basically been asking Tony to create about 80% of our plays and he’s just not used to this role, especially in the NBA. Tony’s used to playing with a creative 2 guard and since he’s been paired with Kawhi, it makes it doubly as tough on him because he’s just not a fully developed offensive player yet.
        Seriously look through our roster and outside of Tony, Tim & Neal (and Anderson but he just can’t finish right now) no one can create for themselves or other. 
        I love watching Tim playing, even at this stage too, and I understand why you gave him an ‘A’ on 7-17, with 17, 11, 5, 3 & 2. But Tony deserves at least an ‘A’ on 12-22, with 28, 5 & 8, most importantly though he had just 2 TO’s in 44 minutes and he was a +13. Hopefully this is a breakthrough game for Tony, cause he’s been poor this season IMO.
        P.S The reason we aren’t starting to rebuild is cause we have a guy called Tim Duncan on our roster and as long as he’s there, there’s no point in wasting seasons. We’d be doing him a dis-service if we started to rebuild now.

  • Anonymous

    You’re right about the rebuild. It’s almost like they’d have to get TD’s approval of a TP midseason trade: “Do you want your PG or player X (who’ll be learning on the fly) going into this year’s playoffs?” The real changes will come this summer (IF the Spurs can find a partner, that is).

  • TD BestEVER

    Also I think your grades are nuts.   How can Neal get a better grade than Blair……. And Bonner the same grade…..SMH….. Maybe you should explain what your are grading them against to give readers a better understanding of these grades……. Like what would a B game would be for Neal, Blair Splitter, etc and what are your expectations from night to night.  

  • Bob

    Parker, Leonard, RJ, Tiago and Duncan seems like the best closing lineup right now. When Manu gets back he replaces Leonard or RJ. It might make sense to start Splitter so they aren’t spotting the other team 10 points inf the first quarter. Starting with defense first always makes sense. With offense you will get wildly inconsistent starts.

  • grego

    There was a decent amount of TP/RJ/Leonard/TD/Green as well. That was a pretty good big “small ball” line up as well. 

  • grego

    To close out the 4th quarter..

  • Anonymous

    I’m really hoping that Kawhi’s teammate from college, Malcolm Thomas, can come in and spell some in the post relief for this team.  At least some resemblance of interior D this team is now sorely lacking.  For as mentioned in #5 of Five Things We Saw…”this is not sustainable.” if Parker and Duncan have to play that many minutes per game.

    Forgive my lack of knowledge regarding this but…could the Spurs call up Marcus Morris from the DL?  Or is he still considered “protected” by the Rockets because of his draft selection?  He showed a lot of promise when he got minutes in Houston prior to them sending him to the DL.

  • Justin-ray

    Hes protected by the rockets

  • Bry

    Very true. The smart move is to wait for this summer and then strike while they have the means. A big trade in the middle of this season (unless it was a sweetheart deal) would just drop the Spurs down to a mediocre team and probably get the bounced in the first round. A mid-season deal this season makes less than in any other season in years because of the tight schedule and the used of bench players all around the league.

  • TD BestEVER

    Tiago got scored on pretty regularly….I love how you people just seem to never see him get scored on…….Scola scored on him as easily as he did Blair and Hill/Patterson(Back ups) out muscled him for easy rebounds and put backs.  You must have been channel surfing during those moments
     

  • Anonymous

    If you look at Tiago’s stats from euro he never was a typical post dominant player.  It’s why I’ve been saying all along that he’s not going to be what many think he would become when joining the Spurs and the NBA.  He’s always going to be a “specialist” in his given talents and like so many big men in this league…what you get from the start is what you’ll end up with in their career.  Very few improve significantly in their weakest attributes.

  • Tyler

    I thought Tiago showed more versatility last night than I’ve ever seen from him. (I know I’m not the only one who had to rewind a dozen times after he took an 18fter).

    More than anything, he looked comfortable, especially on the perimeter. Even though it didn’t go in (and didn’t look great), he didn’t hesitate when he shot his jumper. Also, he showed a decent handle on one occasion – instead of a ball hand off, Anderson backcut, leaving Tiago all alone on the perimeter. Instead of picking it up, he made a quick move, crossed over and drove to the middle on Scola. And while he didn’t finish, I think we’re seeing a glimpse of how we’re going to use him in the future. More high post, ball handoff, cutting action around Splitter (similar to how we use TD) where he can use his BBIQ to make plays. 

    I was impressed with how Tiago played last night. He’s easily our second best big right now.

  • TD BestEVER

    Except the number say differently.   And not just a few numbers…most of the numbers……

    DJB – 23.1mpg  10.9ppg  6.1rpg  1 assist almost 1 steal per game

    TS –   21.1 mpg  6.7ppg  4.8rpg  almost 1 assist  1.1blocks/game 

    Even with Tiago’s intangibles he isn’t better than Blair right now.  He just doesn’t DO ENOUGH on the floor to be better.

  • Anonymous

    Blair has more opportunities under the rim than some of the others you mentioned but just can’t finish unless he’s all alone with the ball under the rim. There are many times he just misses his close range shot or lay ups not to mention gives up on defense at times when a big man squares up against him and shoots over him at will add also the bone headed plays like sticking his head down and pretending to be a bulldozer to get position under the rim on a bigger guy only to be called for a foul. Love his rebounding though.

  • Anonymous

    He scored on Timmy too. He scored on everybody. But if you notice when Splitter stays in longer than 3 minutes at a time he tends to get in rhythm and tends to do well on defense, screening  for other players, blocking shots (3 last night), assists, hustling the sort of things that don’t show up on the box that benefit the team as a whole. Also his free throw shooting has improved greatly this could come in to play as he’s good at drawing fouls. Splitter may not be a Superstar or an all star but he does the hidden things that help the sum of all parts. I love Blair’s rebounding and depending on the teams we match up to from time to time, he’ll get his 20 point games and crazy rebound nights. I just like that fact that everybody is contributing more and more every night.

  • Anonymous

    Still I wouldn’t kick him to the curb. He’s a good 20 minute blue collar contributor at best.  I just wish he’d play 8-10 minute blocks instead of 3-4 minute blocks. He’s better in there longer. I Like when he played with Timmy. You hit it on the nail when you said what abilities he brought from Europe (which earned him an MVP) and most of that is because of his BBIQ. He’s not the best PF/C in the NBA but he’s damn smart and is a good complement with a younger great C/PF. 

  • Anonymous

    Not to mention he used Jordan Hill on a fake under the rim and scored. He’s not as slow as people make him out to be. That perimeter shot rolled in and out and was a good look and I’m glad he took it. If that improves over the course of the season it only helps him and the clears the lane even more. We’ll see.

  • Anonymous

    Apparently Pop doesn’t think so. Then why does Pop repeatedly take him out int he first quarter after they go down 10 points or more and brings Splitter in.  I agree with Bob start Tiago keep him in for at least 8 minutes if he’s doing good then bring Blair off the bench. Pop subbing Blair early is a broken record. Why is this happening? He must have his reasons. 

  • Tyler

    If only you needed a box score to judge the value of a player….

    Defensively, it’s not even close. Whether it’s 1v1 in the post, help side, or PnR, Tiago is a much better defender. Keep in mind, all of those things rarely show up in a box score. Blair on the other hand, just doesn’t possess the length. As a result, he’s forced to gamble too often, which leads to high percentage looks when he’s not successful. Blair is also not nearly the deterrent when opposing players get into the paint. 

    Offensively, the skill level is about equal. Both struggle shooting the ball, both struggle at times in iso situations. However, it helps your numbers when you play the majority of your minutes with the first team like Blair does. Plug Tiago into that lineup and he probably produces at a similar rate.

    Finally, I’ve always been of the mind that it’s not about who starts, but who finishes. And as we’re going to see, it will undoubtedly be Tiago finishing more and more games next to TD. He provides more defensively than Blair without sacrificing anything offensively. If that’s not an indication of Tiago’s value, I don’t know what is.

  • Tyler

    I love the fact that he didn’t hesitate. More than anything, that shows confidence. 

    It’s obvious he’s far more comfortable now than any point last season.

  • TD BestEVER

    Blair was subbed for because he made like 2 bone headed plays in a row…… If he had only made 1 he would have played his normal minutes as he did the night before.

  • TD BestEVER

    Blair was subbed for because he made like 2 bone headed plays in a row…… If he had only made 1 he would have played his normal minutes as he did the night before.

  • TD BestEVER

    Tiago isn’t the deterrent that you all make him out to be……NOBODY fears Tiago and they attack him as they would anybody on our team(including Tim).   Just look at last nights game, even with 3 Blocks Tiago got scored on the in the paint at least 4-5 times 2 times by Jordan Hill and once by Patterson(both backups) so how does he deter opponents.  On Offense Blair can simply produce more on his on than Tiago.  I think Blair has made like 5 or so 10+ ft jumpers this year.  Tiago has only taken one.  

    People are basically saying what they want to be true, not what is actually happening in the game.  Houston attacked the rim at will last night, even when Tiago was in the paint.   

  • TD BestEVER

    If he misses so many than why is he shooting a higher % than your boy Splitter…….. And Blair is actually taking jump shots outside the paint this year and still shooting a higher %.  Gotta love it when someone brings in the facts.  

  • grego

    Duncan protects Blair’s defensive weaknesses as best as he can. That’s the best place to hide him. That’s why he starts. The big problem last night was Splitters foul trouble. It kept him from staying in the game a lot. 

  • Anonymous

    Then why is Pop sitting him after 5 minutes in the 1st quarter not to see him again sometimes in the 3rd. What’s up with that? If he has such a great FG% why isn’t he out there tearing it up night in and night out. Plus I never said Splitter had a higher FG%. Just stating the fact Blair sits early and doesn’t come back till his muscles are cold. “That’s the fact Jack! “

  • Anonymous

    I’ll say it again. “THAT’S THE FACT JACK”! Good one Tyler.

  • Anonymous

    Wishful thinking. If Pop decides to leave Blair in the whole game he will embarrass you. His getting scored on points will pile up and so will his fouls. You just don’t know what your talking about. And I ask again “WHY DOES POP TAKE HIM OUT EARLY AND WE NEVER SEE HIM AGAIN TILL THE THIRD?
    Must be reasons for it. It’s called defensive liability. His points he’s been scoring of lately are not beneficial in comparison to his defense. New season same results. You will just never learn will you. I don’t care because like Tyler said when the playoffs comes Tiago will be right there in the thick of things contributing. 

  • Anonymous

    Really? Serious?

  • TD BestEVER

    He made 2 really bad plays in a row….He didn’t sit out in Milwaukee.  You are taking one game and letting it go to your head……..  

  • Anonymous

    Funny though he was right there with the boys playing late in the game.

  • Anonymous

    It’s almost comical how some compare Tiago to Blair, or vice versa, when both have different skill sets that set them apart from each other.

    The bottom line is each are going to give you what they’re best and worse at providing.  Neither is going to be a franchise player and will always need a better player in the post alongside them to hide their deficiencies or help them capitalize on their strengths.  The most fortunate thing about both is they come on the cheap at this time.

    In conclusion, I don’t overly praise or unrealistically expect more than what each bring to the table.  It’s who they were in college / Europe… and it’s who they’ll remain their entire career.

    This team will need a better “complete” post player than these two if ever to be title contentious for the future.  One that has the combined strengths that both possess in their respected abilities.

  • Jarrgue

    ANDREW:  What’s with the title “El Conclusión”?  If you like to play with words in Spanish and it will be a recurring theme on your columns you should do it right.  I don’t know what you wanted to say but the correct translation for “The Conclusion” is “La Conclusión” and if you intended to say “In Conlcusion” then it should be “En Conclusión”.  I am sorry but it just seems awkward.

  • http://48minutesofhell.com Andrew A. McNeill

    It’s a play on Manu’s nickname, El Contusion.

  • Tyler

    By deterrent I meant the ability to change shots. In that regard, Blair is nonexistent, whereas Tiago has some ability.

    So you get scored on a few times in one game and you’re somehow a bad defender? This is the NBA. Everyone has talent otherwise they wouldn’t be there. You’re not going to hold opponents scoreless. 

    “Sp to sum it all up Tiago is better on D, but not by much because it doesn’t translate in the numbers. And the numbers are what tell you who wins and who doesn’t. So with that being ONLY slightly in TS favor, Blair is better because he puts up better numbers.”

    So it’s only true if it translates to the numbers and it’s the numbers that tell you who’s going to win? If that’s the case, why aren’t we playing Bonner (aka the +/- monster the last few seasons) 40 minutes per game? Too much faulty logic in your above statement to even begin…..

  • Tyler

    If you’re going small, I really like that lineup. A lot of length and athleticism while not giving up much (if anything) on the glass. 

  • TD BestEVER

    Ya serious everybody makes a bone headed play every now and then…..It’s just hard to look at 2 in a row.  Tiago made some bone headed plays last night.  he just spreaded his out to not make them look so bad.

  • TD BestEVER

    +/- is the most over rated Stat ever…..and you are using one stat to make a point while I’m using like 5 or 6……   Offense wins in the regular season(Bonner +/- stats) defense wins in the playoffs(Bonner fail)good game you loose

  • TD BestEVER

    He did that ONE GAME TITLE…………NOT SEVERAL GAMES IN A ROW!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! It’s like you can’t read or something……Blair played his normal minutes vs the Bucks.  So this trend is just in your head, you are dreaming/wishing DJB messes up so your boy can get some burn.  I can see now just like the Bonner fanboys of the last few years we will now have Tiago fanboys who will look for every reason to talk up Tiago.   SMH

  • Tyler

    Never mind that +/- takes into account defense….

    Fine, you win. 

  • Anonymous

    I don’t know who’s more annoying you or watching DJB pile up the fouls and watching his boneheaded plays? I’ll pick you. The funny thing is I’m a Blair fan too!

  • Anonymous

    GO DJB GO!

  • Anonymous

    Defense wins in the playoffs so my man DJB better take it up a notch.

  • Anonymous

    So we’re even.

  • Anonymous

    It is what it is. I agree but TDBE talks like Tiago shoudn’t be on the court with the rest of the guys. I’m just stating we have what we have and they both belong.