How quickly the winds can change

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We are a people focused on immediacy and a “what have you done for me lately” attitude. Attention spans are short and instant gratification is required. Yesterday, Gary Neal was caught in the middle of that.

The box score reads fantastic for a backup shooting guard. 17 points in 27 minutes and 5-8 from 3-point range. The Spurs will take those numbers any day against any opponent, especially one of the better teams in the Western Conference. The 0-6 from inside the arc isn’t so great, but Gregg Popovich and his squad can deal with it.

But the individual plays colored the highs and lows of Neal’s roller coaster ride yesterday. The Spurs held a 65-50 lead mid-way through the third quarter when the Clippers came back. So much so, in fact, the the Spurs found themselves down two points just six minutes later. Worse yet, they hadn’t added a single point to their total in that time. Neal did his part to end the 17-0 run, receiving a pass at the top of the arc that normally would’ve been swung to the other side of the floor and launching a 3. Neal was about a half-step further than he normally shoots it, but it didn’t matter. Splash.

Peak.

Late in the fourth quarter, the Spurs faced a three point deficit with 12.6 seconds left. On the sideline out of bounds play, Neal caught the pass near the top of the arc again, in a spot not too different from the one where he buried the Grizzlies in Game 5 of last year’s first round. Instead of getting the shot, Neal fumbled it, and the Spurs hopes to win the game, away.

Valley.

Then, you know what happened by now.

Peak.

In overtime, the Clippers’ affinity for switching pick-and-rolls got them in trouble, as Kevin Arnovitz detailed over at TrueHoop, and Tim Duncan ended up with Chris Paul defending him in the post. When the inevitable help defenders came, Duncan found Neal open in the opposite corner for the go-ahead 3.

Peak.

Seconds later, Neal heads to the free throw line to create greater separation than the 103-100 score line. Ice water clearly pumping through his veins after two dagger 3s, Neal clanks both free throws. The temperature of Neal’s bodily fluids drops to lukewarm. Well, it’s hard to get off the roller coaster when it’s at the top.

Valley.

Please exit the ride to your right. Souvenir pictures can be found near the exit. Thanks for coming, we hope to see you again soon.

  • Bankshot21

    I ask you Andrew, of the aforementioned peaks and valleys, which has happened more frequently in his career and which would you expect to happen presented with the same situations? Since that October 2010 preseason game that Manu drew up the play for Neal, he has hit big shot after big shot. I truly see him as an unmovable piece in our team because of this. Nothing like a player with the confidence to make up for his mistake seconds after he made it.

  • Bentley

    I think its funny you mention that preseason game (which was also against the Clippers in LA) because that was when Neal started to prove he could hit clutch shots. It was great to see it come full-circle and see him do it again in LA

  • DorieStreet

    I’d say Neal’s temperature was the opposite when he stepped up to the charity stripe. Given the juxtaposition of his shooting performance (0-6 below the arc, 5-8 behind it)–he was running a fever all night long, with bouts of cold sweat mixed in.
    And the two misses at the end reflected the Spurs’ job at the free throw line for the contest: 11- 21 (52%).
    He came through at the end to steal one from the home team -down 2 of his teammates.

  • Titletown99030507d

    He’s here to stay in my book.

  • Hobson13

    A bit off the subject for this thread, but with all the debate regarding the Spurs front line with Splitter out, I thought I might throw in my two cents worth.  Why couldn’t the Spurs trade James Anderson plus this year’s second round pick to the T-Wolves for Anthony Randolph?  Randolph has played all of 12 minutes in the past 10 games because the Twolves are stacked at the PF position.  There’s no way that he’s in their long term plans. 

    By the same token, the Spurs did not pick up Anderson’s option and he’s also in the same boat as Randolph regarding playing time.  The Spurs need a 5th big and the Twolves need a shooting guard.  Both teams would essentially be renting a player virtually risk free for the next few months.  I really can’t see any downside to this experiment for either teams.

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  • DorieStreet

    @ Hobson 13 –
    Turn your 2 cents into a dollar. For whatever the reasons, Anderson is suffocating in his current situation.
    Randolph’s career, however, is drowning– 3 1/2 seasons with the Warriors, Knicks, and now the Timberwolves. I sense a change of scenery is beneficial—no, make that crucial- to both of these players resucitating their game.

  • theghostofjh

    That is an interesting and reasonably realistic proposition, as long as we don’t think Anthony is a head case (and I do think Anderson could still be a real player in this league).

  • theghostofjh

    Agreed. The niche he serves is almost irreplaceable, particularly for the money.

  • ziijordan

    Man. I’ve seen this play 10 times already and every time I see it I get a large smile.

    That was one very weird sequence of events.

  • Bry

    Well, that money is about to get bigger. Neal and Green have to sign new contracts this summer. Part of the reason the Spurs traded Hill was because they knew this summer he would command a much bigger salary. So, the Spurs have some decisions to make in a few months. They’ve clearly already made a partial decision with Anderson (either they don’t see him as a long-term Spur, or they don’t think anyone will offer him big money, or maybe some of both). But, they’ve got to decide about Neal and Green, and also how much to give Duncan in a new deal (I, for one, def do not think he is about to retire), what to do about Ford, and when and if to amnesty Jefferson. So, as of now Anderson, Ford, Duncan, Green and Neal are all unsigned for next season; and Blair’s 1 million salary is a team option. On top of that Ginobili and maybe Splitter (I’m not sure how the qualifying offer works) finish their current contracts the following summer. So, the Spurs have a ton of decisions to make. With Dice’s contract off the books and assuming Jefferson’s 10.1 million is amnestied, the Spurs would only have $36 million in total salary guaranteed for next summer. So, they’ve got a ton of flexibility and really could keep anybody they wanted as well as add at least one big money free-agent. I’m guessing they’ll throw 10-12 million at a young, two-way playing big man. I just have no idea who that would be. I don’t expect much, if anything, to go down at the trade deadline for the Spurs, but this summer’s gonna be fun. 

  • DorieStreet

    Neal and Green are not going to get offers that will make them leave the Spurs–look at their resumes before they landed here. The franchise brought them in because they thought each could fit–and both have done that–and flourished. If Duncan wants to stay on (best case scenario–Spurs win the tile in June and he rides out on top just like The Admiral)  he takes the minimum and keeps being the anchor while FO tries to find his (somewhat) replacement.  Ford accepts the FO’s best offer because he’s home (HS/College) and he can be a part of Spurs getting 5th ring (see above) or carry team through transitional phase.
    Grant me this –a lot is based on what happens in the post season.
    Spurs fall out early–Blair is gone/Splitter stays/RJ amnestied/Bonner shipped out in a trade.
    IMO – this is Pop’s definitive year: if the Spurs fall short, RC steps to him and says
    the era is over –if you want to stay on, let me totally control the personnel coming in for the new era; if not–step down and receive your just rewards for a job well done.

  • Bry

    You’re right about a lot of things depending on the playoffs. But, don’t be so sure that none of those guys will get excessively big offers. The Spurs could afford them all anyway (if they amnesty Jefferson and substantially drop Duncan’s salary) but just look at the Mavericks as an example. They did really well in the playoffs and then players got very big offers. Barea and Butler I think are overpaid, and Chandler is borderline overpaid as well. So, post-season success can bring in the big bidders, especially this summer when so many teams have orchestrated a lot of cap room. If Neal, for example, proves that he can hit big shots AND play as a back-up PG, he’ll get offers. If Green shows that he’s a good defender AND a creator on offense, he’ll get offers too. I’m just hoping their deals stay at or below the Bonner type money level. Bonner might be traded, but I seriously doubt they let Blair walk rather than pay him 1 million bucks. That is very, very little money for a solid rotation player that has learned the system and gets along in the locker-room. As far as Pop goes, I think he’s proven himself flexible and dynamic already over the past one and a half seasons by embracing high-scoring offense for the first time and by drastically limiting the minutes of his veterans and giving unprecedented trust and responsibility to very young and inexperienced players. His decisions in the Dallas game said it all. So, the post-season will probably affect the course and speed or rebuilding, but I seriously doubt it will be the moment of departure for Pop, or Duncan, or Blair or Parker. 

  • Titletown99030507d

    If Pop decides to go big and not small ball after this season and goes after a big that really fits us then we could be seeing Blair on the cusp of being gone. And the new era of getting back to the basics of big ball with defense will be the new priority in Pop’s mind I would assume. . Playing small ball is all he can do as Timmy nears the end of his career so he does it for now. 
    Obviously  big ball and defense brought him all this success in regards to the 4 championships. I’m sure he or the Spurs FO hasn’t abandoned that recipe for success and they look forward to it in the coming years. With the money available next season I’m betting he goes this route. I’ve said it before in the last few days this team will look different next season even more so (as Dorie mentioned) if we exit early.

  • theghostofjh

    “Neal and Green have to sign new contracts this summer.”

    Neal has a player option?

    You make some fair points of speculation. I can only agree that it is highly likely that we will see considerably more changes than average over the summer to next years Spurs roster. Let’s hope we make the right decisions.

  • theghostofjh

    There was a “peak” at the end.

    In no small way because of Gary Neal, we WON.

  • Ian

    As far as I know, Neal signed a 3-year contract with the Spurs and since this is his second year, he still has another year left (his third year being a partially-guaranteed, non player option). Green will be a FA though, I think.

  • theghostofjh

    Yeah, that’s what I thought but it conflicts with Bry’s comment.

  • Bry

    The thing I’m reading has Neal as completely unguaranteed starting this summer. I hope you guys are right and he’s on the books at his very low salary for another season. If that’s the case, then I – once again – take my hat off to the front office for yet another super signing. In fact, the only ‘bad’ signing I see on the entire Spurs roster (I refuse to accept that Bonner is somehow overpaid when he’s only making 3.3 million this year) is Jefferson. But, then again, they may well have known an amnesty was coming in the new CBA and that Jefferson is really only badly overpaid for the last two years of the deal (he’s making 9.28 this year), so if he’s traded or amnestied it worked out well anyway. Fuel for debate; but does anybody think they’ll make any moves before the coming trade deadline?

  • icekopi

    after re-looking at the replays, the CP3 turnover was largely due to the
    following combination of good tactics plus shrewd defending by the
    young guys:

    1. kawhi leonard’s good defending on the inbound –
    baiting ryan gomes to inbound towards backcourt by stepping and angled
    himself towards his right, and with kawhi’s arm span, it helped reduced
    the passing angle.. at this point, notice that the clippers was trying
    to draw up a play to set up a double screen for CP3 to run across to get
    the inbound hoping that he will get fouled for free throws.

    2.
    this is where it gets intricate – *notice the commentators mentioned:
    there’s no TD, no Bonner, nobody tall, it’s all their quick guys* – when
    the play begins, CP3 starts to run across, and the double screen comes
    in, a) blocking off his defender parker, and opening the lane by
    blocking out the help defender green on the far side. what would have
    normally been a easy run for CP3 to get to the inbound pass is made
    complicated at this point with cory joseph becoming the real help
    defender by following him down the lane (while cory’s man sets up the
    screen). with CP3’s headstart and quickness, there is no doubt that he
    would get to the pass first, but here’s the part that i think made the
    turnover. cory joseph was sticking with CP3 up to the point almost where
    kawhi leonard was and touched him. CP3 instinctively opened up his
    stride and put a couple of feet between him and cory joseph. CP3 then
    realised that he had opened up too much and was too close to the halfway
    line (not helped by the small angle that he is to receive the ball
    from), therefore resulting in the turnover.

    for that, cory joseph
    at least deserve a ‘C’, for that little bit of basketball IQ to follow
    CP3 into the lane and forcing him to open his stride instinctively.

  • Hobson13

    I sure wish the Spurs would make a small trade before the deadline.  We only have 2 bigs that have well rounded games.  The other two are highly flawed big men.  IMO, the Spurs should look to move Anderson plus a pick for a shot at a big man.  Don’t think it will happen, but it makes for an interesting debate.

  • Bankshot21

    Great break down.

  • theghostofjh

    When do the Spurs ever make trades mid-season? I doubt this time will be an exception.

  • TD BestEVER

     I have been on this guys bandwagon for a VERY LONG time……… But our FO only wants to make subtle changes

  • Tyler

    Exactly why we shouldn’t touch Randolph – he’s played for three pretty bad teams and still hasn’t cracked a lineup in any meaningful way. Huge red flag.

    No one doubts the potential, but at some point that potential needs to translate into production. It hasn’t, even on some teams that desperately needed talent. And he’s nearly 4 years into his career! If he was going to be an impact player, he would’ve shown that by now, at least enough for a team to keep him around longer.

  • JustinFL

    Only downside would be Anderson turning into a great player a few years down the road.  No one has an answer for why Randolph has gone through so many teams, maybe he just needs some veteran leadership.  I would do this trade, but I would try Anderson and Blair for Robin Lopez first, if that didn’t take, I’d go for Randolph.  Don’t know how much it would help get us over the hump this year.
      I would hope Randolph is just waiting to get another shot into a rotation and proving himself.  He can’t be more of a headcase than Demarcus Cousins.  Either way, we would have to at least give both those guys a chance in SA.

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