New York Knicks 128, San Antonio Spurs 115: How many points can you score in an empty gym?

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MADISON SQUARE GARDEN — On June 25, 1999, the New York Knicks retired into the drab bowels of Madison Square Garden having scored 77 points against the San Antonio Spurs in game five of the NBA Finals. Several years later, after a few coaching changes, a few roster overhauls and a league-wide rule change that opened up the game, the New York Knicks retired into the drab bowels of Madison Square Garden having scored 72 points against the San Antonio Spurs.

It was halftime.

The Knicks defeated the Spurs 128-115 on Tuesday night in a game that more closely resembled a high-tempo shootaround than a highly anticipated regular season match-up. Gregg Popovich often says games come down to who ends up making more shots, the kind of deflective truism he has steadily mastered over the years. However, I think when he says that, the underlying assumption is that both teams will be trying to stop the other from making those shots.

The Spurs have always had a protean quality to them. People often say that they make teams play to their pace and approach, but it’s not uncommon for the Spurs to adopt any given team’s particular style and merely execute it better. Historically, the Spurs have run and gunned alongside D’Antoni-led squads just as often as they have tried to gum up the gears. Popovich admitted as much in his post-game press conference, recalling former Spurs-Suns contests in which both teams would end up scoring over 140 points by the time the final buzzer sounded (although, if the score ever drifted that high, it was because that final buzzer came after one or two overtime periods).

The Spurs’ ceaseless ability to adapt — an ability which has shined as brightly this season as any — caused me to continually cling to hope even when I should have resigned myself to the loss far sooner. The Spurs spent much of the second half within two or three possessions of tying the game and at one point closed the gap to three points. I kept waiting for that string of unanswered three-pointers, that decisive turnover, but they never came.

The defensive failures are almost too numerous to detail. I expected the team to make some defensive adjustments during half time, but no matter how many nobs the Spurs turned or bolts they tightened, the water kept pouring. Even when the Spurs forced the Knicks out of the paint and away from the perimeter, New York made their mid-range jumpers anyways. My notes for the entire third quarter consisted of nothing but the words, “I have no idea.” (One or two expletives may have been redacted from that sentence.) Gregg Popovich put it more concretely.
“The New York Knicks kicked our ass,” he said.
  • There’s no reason to blame this loss on anything other than defensive effort, but if I had to point to an offensive shortcoming, it would be the Spurs perimeter shooting. San Antonio is one of the top three-point shooting teams in the league, and yet they only managed to make 27.8 percent of their attempts from beyond the arc. If that figure is closer to 40 percent, the Spurs very well may have won this game, despite the numerous reasons they deserved to lose.
  • I’ll give credit where credit is due: The Knicks did a reasonably good job defending the perimeter. At the very least, their perimeter defense appeared dogged compared to San Antonio’s. They closed out on shooters swiftly and decisively, and often forced Gary Neal, George Hill and Manu Ginobili into taking hastily released long two-pointers instead of rhythmic, composed three-pointers.
  • That’s not to say the Knicks defense exactly qualified as stifling. 115 points is 115 points. In the words of Gregg Popovich, “I wouldn’t say that there’s a line outside of the arena to buy either one of our defensive playbooks.”
  • When you see the two of them interact, it’s immediately clear how much Gregg Popovich appreciates Gary Neal. Popovich took more time to speak with him during the game than any other person on the court. It reminded me of the in-game relationship Popovich had with DeJuan Blair last season. I was also excited to see how vocal and encouraging Neal is while on the bench.
  • Speaking of DeJuan Blair, his effort on the offensive end was a lone bright spot in a game I am looking forward to forgetting. He showed tremendous dexterity around the rim, most memorably when he sent a looping, wide-armed put-back, laced with a bit of English, dripping through the rim. He also posterized Ronny Turiaf (who was not amused, and drew a technical) in the second quarter, only to steal the ball from Wilson Chandler and take it end-to-end for a layup on the following play.
  • Jersey Shore’s Pauly D had courtside seats at the game, which I know Tim Varner will be excited to hear. He loves Jersey Shore.
  • Don’t be too overwhelmed by the earth-shattering insight I’m about to hit you with: The pace and tone of Tuesday’s game is not going to make Wednesday’s game against the Celtics any easier. I just blew your mind.
  • doggydogworld

    Perimeter shooting was important but I think turnovers were equally important. When teams are scoring 1.4 points per possession it’s critical to avoid turnovers. Even more frustrating, most of the Spurs TOs were unforced.

  • ThatBigGuy

    Yucky. Best to just forget about this game and move on. Get some rest and focus on the C’s.

  • Spurholic in Mumbai

    Agree, though will give Coach D’Antoni and Amare a lot of satisfaction, given the baggage they carry about the Spurs!

    Had a bad feeling, on this one, when RJ was dissing the knicks a day before the match. Though, it has no connection, these things have a way to come back and bite.

    Hope the Celtics dont try to run us aground tomorrow. Looking forward to one of the highlights of the season.

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  • TheRed&Black

    doggydogworld,

    I would say that in this game turnovers were vastly more important. We both equally shot poorly from beyond the arc. at 27-29% respectively. POP has it right, they wanted it more.

    Team season average turnover rates as follows:
    Spurs: Team:13.4 Opp:15.3
    Knicks: Team:15 Opp:15.4

    THIS GAME:
    Spurs:16
    Knicks:6!!!!!!!!

    They wanted the ball more. Clear and simple. They took care of the ball, they took the ball from us(did their job), and we gave the ball to them(as you have smartly pointed out most of them were unforced!)We gave them this game on a silver platter.It is in my opinion, that we need to get this under control! It is killing us against these high octane offenses. Am I wrong? will it get better? worse than the unforced TO thing, is that they were committed by all are system and veteran guys.We also got skunked in the assists tonight as well, buuuuuuuuuuuuuuuut….ThatBigGuy says it best,”Yucky. Best to just forget about this game and move on. Get some rest and focus on the C’s.”-AMEN

    Oh and we could have made a few more free throws ;)

  • wilksthequaker

    Crazy game for my first in-person Spurs game. I splurged and picked up a single ticket four rows from the court, left baseline-extended … for those who can stand to watch the “highlights”, I’m the one in the black #21 jersey.

    Brightest spot was definitely Blair. Turiaf couldn’t stop him in the opening minutes and he wasn’t afraid to attack Amare. Any reason he only played a quarter and a half tonight? A heavy dose of him against the C’s?

    Timmy’s stat sheet wasn’t pretty, but he was showing vintage touch around the hoop keeping the team in the game on a few possessions in the second half. Great to finally see him in person. Same with Tony.

    Neal was pressing during a few stretches and if Pop weren’t looking to manage minutes, the starters may have wasted a few less possessions. I like his aggression and it’s good that Pop gives him some leash, though it will certainly be shorter come April.

    10 more turnovers = 10 more shots for the Knicks. Hill as a little loose with the ball, but had his shot on.

    MSG was electric and you could tell from the opening tip that the Knicks were going to give it all to win. It shows in their starters’ minutes – Fields 40, Chandler 39, Felton 37 and Amare 36 vs. RJ 35, Manu 34, Parker 32 and Duncan 29 (also Turiaf 21 vs. Blair 18). I write it the game off as catching a team that shot lights out that saw this game as its biggest of the season, especially after dropping their other two most hyped up games of the year to Boston (on the Amare non-three the night before Manu’s charge take vs. Melo) and Miami.

    Would be nice to do the Knicks another favor tomorrow night and take one from the C’s.

    Unrelated to the game – Pauly D wasn’t the only celebrity in attendance; Mayor Bloomberg was courtside right in front of me and he and Spike Lee chatted a little during halftime.

  • Junierizzle

    I expected this kind of high scoring game. But I didnt expect the Spurs to turn it over like that. And I didnt expect the Knicks to shoot lights out and basically play an almost perfect game offensively. It seemed like they never missed!!!!!!!! And only 4 turn overs well into the 3rd qtr. 6 total.
    I think if the Spurs took care of the basketball they could have easily won. But oh well.
    This was the one to win. Its going to be tough tomorrow night. Even against a KG-less C team.

  • spursfanbayarea

    Just a poor defensive effort by the spurs. But hey we can not be too hard on them. They have played really well so far. Maybe they partied too much in NYC. The city is one of the best for going out on a night in the town. Hopefully they do not make this a pattern going forward. Go Spurs Go!!!

  • OneWing

    1) Turnovers – Anytime you are down 10 in the TO category, you have a hard time outscoring your opponents. This, IMO, is the one correctable thing in this game.
    2) Knicks shooting – the MO for beating the Spurs this season (or any really hot team in any season, really) is just shooting the ball extraordinarily well regardless of any defensive effort. Even with lock-down, best-ever defense, I think the Knicks shoot over 50% tonight. There will be 3-7 games over the rest of the season that a team shoots like this. At least half of those games are losses no matter what we do. The Knicks were bound to beat us tonight, regardless of how well we played (even though we didn’t play great).
    3) Blair was good offensively on a night that our weakness was not our offense. That is why he didn’t get a lot of PT. He simply could not guard the apostrophe. Antonio could (marginally). But then again, who can guard him right now? The Spurs in general haven’t been able to defend him for years now.
    4) One of two things will happen tomorrow against the C’s: Either we will be ahead by 20 in the second half or we will resort to a zone D. One, but not both, will happen.
    5) Turnovers suck. Did I mention that yet?

  • NYC

    72 points at halftime. Wow. Wow.
    J-Woww.

    Boy am I glad I missed the 1st half. Must have been painful to watch. We followed up the best defensive performance of the year with the worst defensive performance of the year.

    This is what happens if you go into a game with a “a win is a win” mentality: if things don’t go your way, you end up with an L. On the other hand, if you expect to play your best game, then things can go against you and you’ll still eke out a W.

    That’s what I was talking about when I harped on the inconsistency of the team’s defense. It doesn’t mean they don’t have the potential to righten the ship by the end of the season, and it doesn’t mean that I don’t support the team. It just means I’m not a mindless cheerleader when things are going our way, left scratching my head when things don’t, asking “how did we lose?”

    I know how we lost: sloppy D, sloppy handling of the ball. Just like what we saw in the Dallas game last week. That game we happened to win. This one, we could have won also, but we happened to have lost.

    It’s how well the team played that’s indicative of the shape it’s in, not the W or L it stumbled into. And that’s why you shouldn’t be complacent: a win is not always a win. Sometimes a win is lucky and is masking serious issues in the the making.

  • NYC

    If we’re gonna take credit for the excellent defensive game against OKC, then we have to take credit for this stinker as well. And that’s what I’m pointing out: we still have work to do.

    Phoenix exposed how to beat us in the playoffs last year: attack us from the perimeter, lure us into playing an up-tempo, fast and loose game. From what I saw in the 2nd half, it seemed like NY was following that formula.

    Now, with full health and an upgrade in personnel this season, we are fully capable of fixing this and playing better defense– BUT ONLY if we take critical looks at each game, W or L, rather than just pat ourselves on the back for the great record so far, only to exit early in the playoffs at the hands of a team that has figured us out the way we’ve seen Dallas do time and again.

    Fortunately, I know Pop is of the former mind set and is going to coach, not be a cheerleader. That’s why I love the move he made with 3 minutes left to go, pulling the starters. It was a message to the team: play defense, take care of the ball, or else you might as well sit on the bench.

    And that’s why I’m not panicking at this lost. It’s also the reason I don’t get smug and complacent and self-congratulatory with Ws that could have just as easily been Ls.

    Consistency: we still need to work on it.

  • NYC

    @ wilksthequaker

    F – – K BlOOMBERG.

    I’m sorry. As a New Yorker, it is my civic duty to make my feelings about the mayor known any time he is brought up, no matter how tangentially. Please carry on.

    @ OneWing

    I think we will demolish Boston. Did you see how pissed Manu was on the bench? Again, I love the move Pop made. I bet Timmy was every bit as pissed, he just doesn’t show it. I’m looking for big games out of those two in Boston.

  • Manolo Pedralvez

    A Spurs stinker, indeed, but let’s how they come back against the injury-riddled Celtics.

  • http://www.bpifanconnect.com Alix Babaie

    The defense was slow in reacting to the Knicks off of pick and pops & NY made us pay all night. Our guys left shooters open (all too often Chandler was set & just killing it!) and the Knicks seemed to never miss. That 8 of 27 – 3 point stat seems unreal because they seemed to knock them in at the right times.

    Every team has a hiccup from time to time but this was more like a gigantic burp from hell. I am glad Pop sat the starters at the end to rest them some for the Celts game and with the way NY was shooting it, they were not going to be caught.

    Leave it to a douchebag like Chris Sheridan to go all dramatic about how Mike D made Pop quit and all this other bullshit. Numbnuts did not even mention that the Spurs were on the front end of a back to back.

    My expectation was that the Spurs would take 2 of 3 on this roadie and it is still intact. The fellas in S&B simply need to take the game tonight against Boston as another opportunity to deliver a message that they are for real.

    Even without KG, Boston is a serious threat and should be a tough out so I hope that we run the Fat Shamrock ragged with the pick ‘n roll and that our 3 pointers fall in this game.

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  • DorieStreet

    Usually in the NBA if one team has scored 60+ pts. in the 1st half they have a comfortable margin if not an outright rout going. The other team was not playing defense either (halftime score: 72-69). Most of the statistics were even. But a young Knick squad took care of the ball much better than a veteran team did. 4 of or 5 starters combined for 10 TOs (Blair didn’t have any) while 2 of the main 3 players coming off the bench combined for the remaining 6 (Neal was not one of them). That enabled NY to run out several times to leads of 7,8, 9 & 10 points from the 7 minute mark of the 2nd qtr until the end of the 3rd qtr. Most of the 4th qtr we couldn’t get that one or two stops to tie it, then the shooting faltered while theirs didn’t-and that was the ballgame. Yes, the team definitely has to turn things around defensively, but it is just as crucial to eliminate TOs and make FTs. I suspect the game tonight willl be slower pace, half-court play being prominent. If we miss FTs, the score will be 87-80 Celtics win; miss FTs and commit greater than 12 TOs, the score will be 85-64. Let’s bounce back and show the league BTB won’t be our albatross this season.

  • TD = Best EVER

    @ NYC

    “This is what happens if you go into a game with a “a win is a win” mentality:”

    “If we’re gonna take credit for the excellent defensive game against OKC, then we have to take credit for this stinker as well. And that’s what I’m pointing out: we still have work to do.”

    +10

    Yes we do have work to do. And the easiest thing to do is coach the offense a little more. I have said it 100 times that we are not the best O in the league ad that several other teams can play that style better. We saw that last night. We kept taking quick shots and that played into the Knicks hands because they CAN’T defend for a full 24 seconds.

    As far as the TO – ya we can do better but that’s not the reason we lost. We lost because we didn’t share the ball (18 assists) on a team that averages 24(going into the game). If we share the ball and swing it side to side we loosen up the D and get better looks – and thus make more shots. Yall were right to point out that we usually turn it over 13+ times a game anyway. So 3 more TO’s will not kill you if you Defend and play D. Tony, Manu are our best play makers and they are getting 2.4TO’s each. You add to that Timmy’s 1.9 and the rest of the teams 1 or close to it. it’s not hard to get to 16.

    So If we ONLY take shots in the paint (layups, dunks, and tear drops) early, and run some clock and move the ball from side to side. Then we will get the best look possible and make the D work to stop us.

  • irongiantkc

    @ NYC “righten the ship”

    First off, it’s “right” the ship, not “righten”. And secondly, we’ve lost 5 games! The ship is not “unrightened”. You make me tired. Truth is, we DON’T have to have great play from the bigs to win championships. All of you guys who think we do are living in the eighties. Yes, teams with Shaq and Kareem and Hakeem had very good bigs for their championship teams. But the most successful championship teams of the last thirty years the Spurs and the Bulls didn’t have true bigs. And no Tim has never been a true big. Even when the Heat won, Shaq was not the focal point. The Lakers and the Celtics have bigs, good ones, but that doesn’t make them the formula for success. Hell, the Lakers have great bigs this year and Kobe won’t give them the ball. It’s about having great athletes who are sold out for the team system. Sounds like the Spurs, right? At 29-5, the ship is sailing just fine.

  • irongiantkc

    Besides, how often is any team, much less the Knicks, going to shoot .550 from the field and have only 6 turnovers? And 20 of 23 (.870) at the stripe? What were they doing, just leaning forward and dunking it?

    I know, the defense should have played better and they should have taken care of the ball better.

    Remember, if early wins don’t mean anything (“a win is NOT just a win”), then neither do the losses.

  • irongiantkc

    Sorry, forgot about that force in the middle, Luc Longley. Maybe we should trade for a player of his caliber. Wait a minute! We already have a big, strong, slow, white guy to play a few minutes down low. And his name is not Matt. It’s Tiago. No need for any more trade talk. Done and done.

  • NYC

    @irongiant

    Well, first, you have me confused with someone else. I’ve never said anything about big men. While I would agree with the assertion that others have made that we could stand to improve our interior defense with better shot blocking, I don’t believe it is our biggest weakness, and I don’t foresee any drastic changes made. Any improvement will have to come from Tiago and Blair.

    Second, I disagree about the ship sailing just fine. How many times have the Mavericks compiled a decent or even superior regular season record, only to lose early in the playoffs? I’m not saying the ship is in dire straights, I’m saying there’s a few leaks that need plugging up. We can ignore it and say everything’s fine and dandy as long as we keep racking up the Ws only to find the small leaks have grown to become too big to fix by the playoffs.

    So I still insist we need to “right the ship.” Our ship may be sailing better than any other ship right now, but that doesn’t mean it will stay that way. (God forbid someone gets injured.) Not if we ignore the leaks.

  • rj

    we should have attacked amare more in the low post. hes . an average low post defender. splitter anyone? he could have helped get amare in foul trouble. i don’t see us winning this game against boston, either. even without kg, they have some gigantic lane cloggers and unless pierce and rondo are hobbled, those two should get what they want. what also makes me doubt is this simple reason: second game of a back-to-back

  • rj

    i expect the d to greatly improve on rodeo road trip 2011

  • DorieStreet

    @ TD = Best EVER

    The point about the assists discrepancy is valid, but you can’t ignore empty possessions-meaning no shot attempts. During the course of the game the Spurs were shooting just as well as the Knicks were the entire game and the final pct. was 54% SA to 55% NY. We had 12 more points in the paint & had 7 more FT attempts. (They only missed 3 & we miss 8.) The 9 more FG attempts the Knicks got were due to us being careless and them getting baskets off that for a total of 24 pts. This was a run & gun contest where defense took the night off for both teams, but the younger, less experienced squad valued the possessions more –5 TOs in the first half, one TO each in the 3rd & 4th qtrs.

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  • TD = Best EVER

    @ irongiantkc

    “And no Tim has never been a true big.”

    That pretty much sums up all I need to hear from you on you basketball knowledge. He may have or haven’t been a TRUE CENTER his whole career depending on how you look at it. But true Big…..What do you think a true Big is? 10+ rebounds per game, blocks shots, and scores and defends in the post (top 5 in both most his career). So from now on or until you start to make some sense we are just going to ignore everything you say.

    @ DorieStreet

    “The point about the assists discrepancy is valid, but you can’t ignore empty possessions-meaning no shot attempts.”

    I best summed this up in a later post about the Knicks shooting 55%. We had 16 and average 13.5 for the season. That means we were close to our average. We will always be somewhere between 11-16 per game and have to accept that. If we were averaging 11 – then we could hope for an 8-14 possibility. We have also won titles with as many or more per game than we commit now.

  • irongiantkc

    @NYC
    I may have gotten you mixed up with TD=BE about the bigs. If that’s the case, then sorry about the mixup. My bad. I still think the best way to gauge a team’s progress is by wins. It can absolutely be overly simplistic and even misleading. Still, I have heard too many times fans or detractors point to the statistics as to why their team should have won or the other team shouldn’t have won. Once again, I know what we are gunning for is wins in the playoffs not the regular season. I just don’t think a defensive stinker against a really motivated team at home with a raucous crowd is indicative of a problem. Let’s see how the defense responds in Boston. The team shouldn’t have to be that exhausted with the short distance on this segababa.

  • irongiantkc

    @ NYC
    btw, I know you’re scared about injuries, but there’s really no point in fretting (good word, huh?) about them. It doesn’t mean there is anything wrong with the Spurs if injuries would devastate them. Every team is devastated when they have injuries to their most important players. Except for Houston, they’re the obvious exception to that rule. I think they have been rebuilding the team with the suspicion that Yao would never return.

  • irongiantkc

    @TD=BE
    There’s no need to ignore everything I say. Just most of it.

    Look TD=Best Ever, you’re name says it all. He’s the best power forward of all time. Just not the best center. 10+ rebounds a game? I love, LOVE Timmy but a TRUE big would have better rebounding numbers. Moses Malone, Karl Malone, and Dennis Rodman were all better rebounders and none of them were true bigs. That said, none of those guys could hold a candle to Tim’s career. Tim was and is a vastly superior over-all player than all those guys. He might have even scored more if he’d had Stockton funneling him the ball and he’d taken half of his teams shots every game. Of course, the Spurs would have won a lot fewer games.

    By the time, he’s done, Tim may be considered one of the five greatest players of all time, especially if he wins another championship. I’m just saying he’s not a True big. David Robinson was a TRUE big and he couldn’t win it all until Tim showed up. That’s coming from a guy who thought David was the greatest center of all time, until I watched the Dream take him to the woodshed in ’95(?).

  • irongiantkc

    Also, TD=BE you’ll notice in the past, even though Tim is one of the best defenders of all time, Pop almost always has one of our other post players defend their center. That said, I wonder if Timmy in his prime would have been able to shut down Hakeem. I think he might have been able to. I think Tim has better awareness of space and better length than David did. Still, for two years, the Dream was absolutely unstoppable. I wonder if anybody ever could have shut him down. Maybe, Russell?

  • LPspursFan

    I hate losses as much as anybody, but am also realistic enough to know that even the best teams suffer several throughout an NBA season.
    Every so often you run into teams that are fired up – that’s what happened last night. Does anybody really think Chandler would avg 31 ppg in a 7-game series? Or that the Knicks would shoot 55% game after game?
    And as far as being satisfied and saying “awin is a win,” does anybody really think that is Pop’s MO?
    Heck no! But we, as fans, have every right to celebrate every win and feel puffed up about having the best record in the NBA.
    And despite the loss, we still do hold the top spot in the standings.

  • DieHardSpur

    @IrongiantKC

    David was three inches taller and 3 times as quick, and he couldnt hang with “The Dream”. In the same token, no one could really shut down Big Dave.

    The only assuption you can come to is that some players are just “unstoppable” on offense. Many of the great players had that capability…

    Now, Timmy on The Dream… both in their respective primes, that i would like to see.

  • Dr. Who

    I was going to just have a simple post about how I almost forgot how much I hate losing to D’Antoni, how he looks like someone crossbread a chipmunk and Teddy Roosevelt (sans glasses) and how he whines more than any other coach I’ve ever seen. After every call he makes these ridiculous faces at the refs as if one of his children farted in the car and the kid insists it wasn’t him. I was going to post about RJ’s trash talking and how I think it’s OK to trash talk only if you can back it up. RJ didn’t and so maybe he should abandon the idea… then I read a post and ugh… got majorly sidetracked

    @irongiantkc
    “you make me tired”
    Well irongiankc, you make me think you need to read up on your history more. I don’t know NYC, but feel it’s my duty to chime in when I read a ridiculous post. I though t NYC’s posts have been pretty on the money and well put together, yours… not so much. Please do some research and employ logic in your post before piling on someone else. So you don’t have to have great play from bigs to win a championship? I love how you rewrite history here. “the most successful teams of the last 30 years the Spurs… didn’t have true bigs.” You’re kidding right??? How can you even be allowed to post such a comment. It’s like posting “All of the most round circles have been squares.” Totally false… First off, you need to include the Lakers in that mix. If you include the Jordan years in this conversation you have to include the Rockettes and their championships that were anchored around Hakeem. They wouldn’t have won those championships had Jordan been playing. The Bulls teams were the only repeat championship team to win rings without real bigs. Why? Because they had the GOAT playing for them. Jordan was a once in a lifetime player that would not let his team lose. Phillip did a good job of managing personalities and finding serviceable big men in Will Purdue, Horace Grant, Rodman etc. The other cast of characters Cartwright, Luc Longley, Bill Wittington didn’t exactly strike fear into the hearts of men; they didn’t have to. No. 23 sure as hell did. Ask John Stockton, Karl Malone, Barkley, Ewing and the rest of the “50 Greatest of All time” All Stars never to win rings he sent packing. Jordan and his teams are the anomaly, not the norm. You need to include more than the Spurs and Bulls in that list of great teams since there is actually a team out there that has more rings than the Spurs during that span. It’s the LA Lakers. But they didn’t have true bigs either? Shaq was the Alpha Male at the time. With rings in 2000, 2001 and 2002 not only did they repeat (which the Spurs have never done) but they three-peated. You can say Kobe was the anchor of those teams as a quick retort. You would be incorrect. Kobe was second fiddle (a very good second fiddle of course) to the Alpha Male. If you disagree please check your history before replying. Shaq was Finals MVP for all 3 championships and league MVP in 2000 I beleive also scoring champ but I’d have to look it up. They also had a pretty good big in Robert Horry that hit clutch shot after clutch shot (just like he did for the Rockettes team and another Texas team in the future). The later Lakers teams had Kobe who was playing at an MVP level for a while, but didn’t win championships. He didn’t get rings even though they had Bynum and Odom as bigs. When did that all change??? When they got Gasol on their roster. Coincidence??? I think not. They are playing like more like the Clippers than the Clippers are right now. Kobe is still being Kobe, but what about Gasol’s game? It’s gone to nothing right now and they are struggling. See the correlation?

    Now let’s look at the Spurs teams that played without true bigs. Really… I mean really… David Robinson was named one of the 50 best players of all time, a former league MVP and scoring champ. In his last NBA game in the NBA finals he had damn near 20 rebounds. I rememebr I was watching it from the floor. Looked up and thought… dang DRob is bringing it on the glass. So 5-0 isn’t a legitimate big? Who is then, Manute Bol or Shawn Bradley because they were really really tall? You can look them up if you’re not sure who they are, they played a game called basketball. Tim Duncan IS a big, he’s a power forward/center. He’s never played in the backcourt. He’s a legitimate big repeat after me please. Malik Rose was used as a big (similar to Blair); I can understand someone saying that he’s not a real big, but Duncan??? Our defense was predicated on the defenders funneling into the middle where we had TWO bigs waiting for them. That was the Spurs system, harass on the wings and funnel to the 2 shot blocking bigs. We incorporated Dave (one of the best centers of all time) and TD who is one of if not the best PF/Centers of all time. Call him a PF but when you have a 7 footer posting up, cleaning the glass and defending post up centers… he looks a lot like a center to me not a guard (check his assist numbers though I might be wrong). How about we agree he’s a front court player NOT a back court player (which means he’s a big). Once Robinson was gone we adjusted our bigs to suit, we used a stretch 4 big in Robert Horry not to mention Rasho and Nazr. Nazr for all his faults, played very well at the end of the season and gave us that second shot blocking big to funnel opposing players into. By no coincidence, we just so happen to win a championship that year. And our “non big” TD got his 3rd Finals MVP. Why on earth do you think the Lakers went out and got Gasol after they already had Odom and Bynum on the roster? They needed to get bigger. It worked… You can get around dominant bigs by having serviceable bigs that play defense and an uber talented supporting cast. We’ve seen that, but not as often as the teams that win with strong play from bigs. The Spurs did it, the Lakers did it, the Rockettes did it. When Miami won their championship, Shaq was a serviceable big not the Alpha Male. He was a solid defensive presence and Wade did a very close Jordan impersonation those last 4 games putting on one of the most dominant Finals performances since MJ. History repeats itself (oh yeah and they played the Mavs who blew a 2-0 lead… God bless those Ponies). The Heat followed that championship season with a more forgettable once and no multiple championships. The modern day Heat may not be loaded with bigs but they’ve got a servicable one in Big Z and one of the best in Bosh. They don’t need tons of them since they have two of the best wings in the NBA right now on the same team.

    This Spurs team does not have an MJ talent. Please do not try to argue this point… we don’t and probably never will. We have a solid cast playing team ball and we have a pack of all-star caliber players and emerging youth. It could be enough to win a championship, but all is not well and the team is not firing on all cylinders. We could use more length to help on the defensive end. It will have to be from the existing bigs though as I don’t see a trade nor do I want one. I’ve been pretty vocal about that point. What I take great exception to is people like yourself calling out those that believe a win is not a win and then spouting off rhetoric with zero logic or actual facts to back up your point. We all have opinions and that is great. I enjoy hearing other’s opinions when they are backed up by facts and presented logically. Many times they get me to scratch my head and think… “Hey, they may be onto something.” I don’t usually post anything as pointed at someone as I have here, but I didn’t think it was right to see a post where the FIRST thing you did was correct someone else’s gramer… grammer… grammar (really are we checking grammar on this blog now???) and then spew out a trough of utter ridiculousness at a poster (NYC) who actually had some very solid comments in his post. For your information when you hear someone say “a win is NOT just a win” that means that even though it counts just the same in the win column, coaches (and observant fans) will look back at the win and cringe if there was poor execution all around. Your view that all is well doesn’t fly in Pop’s camp. After the win over the Mavericks, Pop stated something to the effect that “we learned nothing about our team today.” Meaning it was horrible execution, the team played poorly etc. After that win and a tanning by Pop stressing team defense, the Spurs put on their best defensive performance of the year. Pop lit into them. If a win is a win and all is well, then there would have been zero need to correct those mistakes. In the same respect, a loss is NOT just a loss. If the Spurs fought the good fight and some strange events led to a loss then fine OK. There are those times when you play well but a team just shoots lights out near 50% even though you did everything right; it happens on occassion (those ocassions are about as common as the IRS giving you a check because you’re a swell guy). This was not one of those losses. The defense was deplorable and turnovers were unacceptable. Why else do you think Pop was so angry he benched everyone on the floor with 3 minutes left (still enough time to mount a comeback). He was sickened with the performance. Let’s hope for more of the same that we saw after the Mavs win. An inspired Spurs team committed to team D. I heavily doubt Pop’s going to think, oh well it was a bad loss nothing we could do; they were just on.

    No I am not circling the wagons.. the season is over run for your lives… this team has much room to improve and I hope they show it tonight. Manu and the starters should have a ton of fire in their belly from the loss. Let’s hope we play some inspried ball tonight.

    NYC post more insight – enjoyable reads!!!

  • Dr. Who

    Apologies guys, I guess I was channeling my inner Jim Henderson… Whew!

  • lvmainman

    128 points is the most in a 48 minute game in Duncan’s entire history!! What a stat, if true. 1181 games and counting and has never seen 128 points scored on his team?

    Spurs better keep fighting to get home court advantage for the playoffs.

  • irongiantkc

    @Dr. Who
    First off, your post is REALLY long. You make me tired, too. Second, who is “piling on”? You can’t pile on when you’re just addressing what someone wrote. With that logic, you’re piling on me. But I’ll make it somehow. Second, read the whole post before you get so grumpy. I know that bigs are incredibly valuable. I just wrote that they are not the only formula for success. Go ahead, look back. I’ll give you time. I’d love it if Dwight Howard or Pau Gasol were playing for us. They’re not available are they? That would be awesome.

    Now, to address a few of your calmly worded concerns. I wrote that David Robinson was a TRUE big. Go ahead, look back. I’ll give you time. See it’s right there. You’ll note that the point was that we needed more than him. Perhaps, we needed the best power forward of all time. Just like MJ needed Scottie or Shaq needed Kobe or Kobe needed Pau. It’s not the big, it’s the other pieces of the puzzle that’s needed. MJ couldn’t do it alone and neither could any of the other guys. Remember when alpha Shaq and the Magic got swept by the Rockets? I have always wondered what would have happened had MJ played the two years the Rockets won the championships. Hakeem was so dominant that I think they would have won them anyway. I also remember the Spurs coming so close for so many years. Yes, we’re both old. To this day, I still think the Spurs would have won some of those championships. They matched up great with the Bulls and #50 always dominated them. The Spurs almost always won when they played Jordan and the Bulls. We just couldn’t seem to get past the Warriors and Phoenix…the Warriors! It still hurts.

    I just think we have all the pieces in place for a run at the Championship with the return of Mr. Anderson and the continued development of Tiago. Esp. now with the Lakers and Mavs imploding. And yes, they both have a history of doing that (even though I think the refs gave Miami that series).

    Finally, why the need to defend NYC? If you’ll notice on a later comment I mentioned that I must have gotten him mixed up with someone else. He did a great job responding to my post. It was logical, calm, and he responded with the same dry humor that I was trying to use (apparently unsuccessfully). NYC lives in the Big Apple. He’s a big boy, they know how to defend themselves there.

  • irongiantkc

    btw, the Lakers didn’t get Gasol because they needed to get bigger. Bynum is bigger than Gasol. The Lakers got Gasol bc he’s GREAT. Every team needs at least one great player and several good players to play with them. That was my point. The Spurs have four really good players. And on any given night one of the Big Three can still be great. I don’t see RJ in the rarefied air as the other three. And, of course, Tim’s in a class all by himself even if he’s not as great as he once was. As I recall, David was capable of pulling out those performances every once in a while even his last year. Like 20 rebounds in his last playoff game.

  • Dr. Who

    @irongiantkc
    “First off, your post is REALLY long.”

    Hey at least you’re observant.

    What made me type that soliloquy was your initial post… If you start off a message with,
    “First off, it’s “right” the ship, not “righten”. And secondly, we’ve lost 5 games! The ship is not “unrightened”. You make me tired. Truth is, we DON’T have to have great play from the bigs to win championships. All of you guys who think we do are living in the eighties. “;
    you should make sure you have a solid post and expect some criticism. You didn’t’ mention Robinson etc. etc. until after your original post, quite some time later. The original post and cynicism garnered the reply. I’m more than sure NYC can handle his own battles. I was hoping for more logic and research in yout posts. You don’t make me tired, you make me want to ignore your posts.

  • TD = Best EVER

    @ irongiantkc

    Great clarifications about big men. And most of what you originally posted was on-point. I just think you got side tracked there.

    @ lvmainman

    Great Post – # 1 seed or bust baby. We have to have that seed.

  • irongiantkc

    @Dr. Who
    You’re right. My comment about the eighties was snarky and rude. I still think my other comments were on point and logical. Maybe if I hadn’t said the stupid thing about the eighties, you wouldn’t have had such a visceral response. Sorry.

  • ITGuy

    Dr. Who, that’s exactly what I was going to write about. Thanks for the read.

    Go Spurs Go!!

  • Titletown99030507

    @wilksthequaker, I have to accept the fact that Blair is our starting center from here on out but the games offensive focus started with Blair early on in the game and it played well into the knicks hand that he was getting off and the rest of the team wasn’t getting their rhythm . That’s probably why pop pulled him and the fact he was getting scored on with jumpers by Aware. My guess is Pop wanted more defense out of Blair and wanted the offense to go through the others accustomed doing so. That’s a small part of it. But really there was no perimeter defense last night that’s why they easily tore up the paint with there slashers. They kinda looked like how the Spurs usually play. My bet pop learns from this and makes the adjustment the next time they meet each other again. The adjustment my bet will be get in their face perimeter defense and better shot selection instead of running around the court like a chicken without its head trying to make a shot. Just my analysis.

  • Flavor

    My fav. part of the game was turriaf gettin all mad for making blair’s poster… lol.

  • Pingback: Celtics Hub and 48MoH, exchanging notes on Celtics/Spurs()

  • Dr. Who

    @Flavor

    Yep, that’s about the only thing that brought a smile to my face from the game. And he got T’d up! Perfect. :)

    @irongiantkc

    I guess we can play nice now. Oh yeah and we can agree on one thing…

    “Yes we are old”

    If you remember our bigs being Antoine the “Big Dog” Carr, Greg Cadillac Anderson, Moses Malone and JR Ried… yep we are old.

    I kinda like this so how about more… If you fondly recall Dave’s 71 pt game to beat Shaq for the scoring title, that ugly glow in the dark Taco Cabana inspired Spurs logo, trades for Charles Smith/Doc Rivers that would put us “over the edge” for a title, John Stockton’s short shorts and how Jeff Horniciek looked like a used tire salesman… you are an old Spurs fan. If you remember Barkley’s step back shot and the Dream Shake Popcorn machine to bounce us from the playoffs are an old Spurs fan. If you ever bought “obstructed view” playoff seats at the Alamodome and watched half of the game on the court and the other half on a big screen becasue the curtain was in the way… are an old Spurs fan. Oh yeah and I remember Vinny Del Negro’s hair… I’m haunted by it.

    I’m probably older than most. I attended games at the Hemisfair as a kid. I had frequent nightmares that Artis Gilmore’s mutton chops were under my bed and were going to attack me when I fell asleep. That explains a lot. Good times! So I guess if you remember actually watching Ice’s fro bounce around and score a bazzllion points, the “Bruise Brothers” or when the Baseline Bums actually had really really good seats… you are a super old, AARP lovin’, Metemucil swiggin’, one foot in the grave old Spurs fan.

  • irongiantkc

    Remember JR Reid’s fade? Not his shot, his hair. Awesome, simply awesome.

    Quick story: One year the Spurs coach (can’t remember which one) spoke at our high school’s athlete’s banquet. One of the questions from the audience was, “How much longer do you think Artis Gilmore will be a dominant center in the league.”

    Without skipping a beat he said, “About three years ago.” We died laughing. One of the best answers from a coach I’ve ever heard.

  • rob

    @DorieStreet

    Thank you for the sensible posts. It saves me from having to write the same thoughts. And you seem to have a knack for writing them better than I could anyway.

    So regarding this particular subject…What you said.

  • http://www.sanantoniospurs.com SPURS FAN SINCE 89

    Memo to Tony Parker: STOP SHOOTING 3’S!!! YOUR A CAREER 31.2 % SHOOTER!!!
    BEAT L.A.

  • http://www.sanantoniospurs.com SPURS FAN SINCE 89

    About time they got rid of Udoka.
    BEAT L.A.

  • NYC

    @ Dr. Who and irongiant

    Whoa, I totally missed the continuation of this thread. Sorry, I’m late to the party, guys.

    Um… I remember… Pizza Hut had a Texas Showdown promotion: 2 medium pizzas for $9.99 to celebrate the interstate Western Conference Finals. How’s that? (Full disclosure: I lived in Houston at the time and rooted for Hakeem all the way–and was not disappointed. Now y’all know my dark secret.)

    I appreciate you guys responding to my posts. I don’t expect everyone to agree with everything I have to say at all times, but it’s nice to know that it is being read.

    Thanks for the compliments, Dr. Who. You too, irongiant. Let’s have more reasoned debates.