Out of the Timeout: This is the most wide open Tim Duncan has been in his entire career


If you watched the Spurs’ 91-84 win over the Milwuakee Bucks last night, you probably remember this play vividly. With a three-point lead late in the game, the Spurs are in-bounding the ball from the sideline. Gregg Popovich unloads a gem of a play and the Spurs get a crucial bucket.

It may not actually have been the most wide open Tim Duncan has ever been in his career, but it’s pretty damn close. When’s the last time you saw nobody around Duncan in a half court set? Even in warm-ups there’s more crowding around Duncan.

Tony Parker is the in-bounder on the sideline in this play. The rest of the Spurs, Tim Duncan (5), Matt Bonner (4), Manu Ginobili (3) and George Hill (2), occupy the four corners of the lane. Duncan flashes up to the top of the key and takes the in-bounds pass from Parker.
San Antonio Spurs inbounds play for Tim Duncan against the Bucks
Duncan catches the pass and takes a couple of dribbles towards Parker, who, after passing the ball in, cuts towards Duncan to take a hand-off. Meanwhile, Matt Bonner takes a couple of steps towards the top of the key.
San Antonio Spurs inbounds play for Tim Duncan against the Bucks
There are a couple of thing going on here. There’s a pinch post with Duncan and Parker, and there’s Bonner getting ready to run a pick-and-pop with Parker. Chances are, these two options are what occupied most of the Bucks defensive focus. Recognizing that Parker was dribbling off of the Duncan’s pinch post, Bucks center Andrew Bogut hedges on Parker. Meanwhile, George Hill and Manu Ginobili make their way to the free throw line to set a back screen on Bogut.

Tim Duncan normally doesn’t get back screens set for him, so you can understand the Bucks players not paying much attention to him. Until you see how wide open he is.
San Antonio Spurs inbounds play for Tim Duncan against the Bucks
Tony Parker dribbles off of Bonner’s pick to the other wing and finds Tim Duncan, wide open under the basket for a dunk. The basket puts the Spurs up five points with 1:22 left in the game. Still plenty of time for Milwaukee to make a comeback, but you have to think it lowered the Bucks momentum some.

Here’s the play in live action. Marvel at its beauty, this is why Gregg Popovich makes the big bucks.

Our amigo Sebastian Pruiti also took a look at this play over at NBA Playbook. Unfortunately for us, he’s on the eastern time zone and beat us to the breakdown. At least, that’s my excuse.

  • Hunter

    Beautiful play. duncan being open like that would not happen again in a million years. this was great.
    From a true spurs fan i must finally say


  • ThatBigGuy

    Incredible. In real time, I thought it was an elaborate down screen for Manu to drain a 3 at the top of the key, so I was somewhat startled when Tony zipped a pass right at the bucket, and even more surprised when Tim was wiiiiiide open for the dunk.

    The only hope the Bucks could have had on this play was for Bogut to actually hedge instead of show on Parker. If he makes Tony slow down/stop/change direction, the play doesn’t develop. But then again, Tony had a full head of steam coming from the sideline, so it would have taken perfect timing to hedge without fouling.

    Just a great play from a great coach.

  • grade21

    Absolutely–a thing of beauty! You can tell that Skiles doesn’t even notice what is happening until Duncan does his “slo-mo 360 dunk.”

    Great analysis too. Question: why do the keys in the diagrams above have 5 o’clock shadows?

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

    @ grade21

    5 o’clock shadows?

  • jwalt

    As the author says, the key is that you never see backscreens set for Duncan. Once Duncan set the original screen for Parker, Bogut (and every other Buck) assumed Duncan would stay up high to set a second screen if the need arose.

    Pop can do it!

  • Espoon

    Good play but horrific defense, the guy garuding Manu should have helped; I think it was Bah Moute.

  • grade21

    @ McNeill:

    Dumb joke; it looks like the keys had whiskers where the markers are that they stand for free throws.

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  • mybloodissilverandblack

    Whoever that was who set the screen against Bogut did an excellent job. The lane was clogged so he wasn’t able to chase Timmy.

    Or was it that Bogut was sleeping on defense?

  • Dr. Who

    Pop’s a genius??? You kiddin’ me… I was running that same play for Terry Cummings on NBA LIVE 95. Apparently Pop played EA Sports games in the 90’s.

  • Dr. Who

    No seriously…. I kid… I kid… :) :) :) :)

  • Tim

    Prediction: Spurs record at All-Star break, 45-11

  • Hobson13

    Another filthy play drawn up by Pop out of a timeout. Pop is one of the best in the league at drawing up those kind of easy bucket plays out of a time out.

  • Dr. Who

    We’ve been treated to quite a few wide open Jefferson dunks out of time outs. I guess he kinda knows what he doing!

  • Ruel

    Great Play and there’s more to come!!!

  • Kevin

    Off topic… where’s Sean Elliot? If anyone watched the immediate post game last night, Malik is kind of a train wreck at times. Granted, he hasn’t been doing it for a long time, but I was just curious as to where Sean is?

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

    @ Kevin

    Sean hates the cold. Other than that one, miserable season for him in Detroit, he’s always been in warm weather cities. Grew up in Arizona, went to U of A, then played for the Spurs for forever.

    There’s always someone sitting in for him when the Spurs go to cold weather cities in the winter. Last year it was PJ, now it’s Malik.

  • Bankshot21

    I hate Sean Elliott’s sports commentary. He’s too pro Spurs and it show’s in many of the opinions and statements. I am pro Spur as well but when I watch the game I want to hear unbiased commentary. Just my opinion. 33-6 I’ll take it. And for the 45-11 record…..we lost 6 of 39 games. You expect us to lose 5 of 17? C’mon son. (A new york thing,lol)

  • Colin

    Easy bucket, even worse defense. Nothing to take away from my Spurs but its no wonder why the Bucks are 14-22. Winning teams don’t allow buckets like that in the last few minutes of a close game.

  • LPspursFan

    I like a local slant when I watch the Spurs, but that’s just me. Mostly when it comes to foul calls is I think where at least we have someone crying with us. When I have to watch the games with the other teams’ home announcers, it’s the same thing except they are watching the game through different colored glasses. Now, when a game is a national broadcast (ESPN, TNT, etc.) that’s when the announcers ARE SUPPOSED TO BE totally neutral. But when it’s FSN-Ohio or FSN=Florida, those announcers have every right to lean towards the home team. Plus, Sean almost makes a joke out of how home-team biased he is. When he thinks a call is wrong and the replay shows it was rights, he’s like, “aww shucks…” Anyway, just my opinion on the announcing.

  • Tim


    look @ the schedule

    next 4 games at home: dal, den, ny, tor

    12 of next 13 on the road! only home game is the rockets.

    what’s ur prediction?

  • Tim

    and what is our signature road win thus far? dirkless Dallas? please don’t mention the Jazz or Thunder!

  • LPspursFan

    Tim, I don’t have a problem including OKC as it was the team’s first second of a B2B of the season and OKC was the preseason media darlings to be No. 2 behind the Lakers.
    I think the Denver game when Manu drew the charge should rank as it was also second of a B2B.
    And winning at Utah, fr us, is always a good win.
    But if you’re trying to make a point that our road losses to Orlando, Boston and Knicks show we haven’t beaten the best teams on the road, I’ll give; you’re probably accurate with the point.
    But that’s almost why it is imperative that we don’t let this great start record-wise go to waste and get ourselves the home-court advantage for the playoffs.

  • Joseph B

    Looking back to the last game that Pop was ejected. Coach Bud drew up a play that I think was a high screen where RJ slipped the screen and ran to the basket for an uncontested slam dunk. Bud was praised for the drawing up of the play. Judging by some of the players reactions toward Coach Bud during last nights game, I think it’s quite possible that he is the “genius” behind these out of bounds plays that seem to always work for us.

  • Tim


    Absol! but am just saying that I would expect us to go 12-5 over the next 17 games, given our schedule and that would not be bad

  • LPspursFan

    I’d take 12-5 right now. However, the teams on Rodeo Road Trip (Feb. 1-17) don’t read like a murderer’s row with only the Lakers and Bulls seeming like truly formidable match-ups. So I could see us posting better than 12-5…maybe even 14-3.

  • Tyler

    It’s truly amazing how well our team executes out of the timeout. And it’s not just this year, it’s been been going on for years now. No matter what the situation or where the ball is, we almost always get good shots.

    I don’t know if it’s Pop, Coach Bud, Coach Brown, or some combination….

    And how Coach Bud isn’t an NBA head coach is beyond me. Maybe he doesn’t want to be just yet, but you can’t tell me there are 20 guys already head coaches who are better than him. Impossible.

  • DieHardSpur

    I believe that Budenholzer will be our next head coach, when Pop decides to hang up his boots so to speak. I think he will be a damn fine one…

  • mybloodissilverandblack

    OK, after analyzing the video over and over, it became aparrent to me that the open shot was not created by any set play whatsoever.

    Timmy was supposed to roll after the screen, yes. But, he became so wide open because Bogut and Dooling did not switch [slash] react quick enough on the pick-and-roll. They became too caught up with Tony Parker.

    Yet, still, great job by Bonner, plus the team of George Hill and Manu on blocking off Bogut.

    Poor Bogut; he looked helpless as he watched Timmy dunked the ball in.

    Sag like that in a playoff game, and you’ll have nightmares that will last forever.

  • mybloodissilverandblack

    And this is pretty much different than the “Bud special” decoy play versus the T’wolves. Bud pulled up a football-like trick set.

    Meanwhile, with the wide open Duncan play, it was the team-ful of screens that were the key in executing it.

    Both are works of art, really. Yet, still two different animals.

  • Colin

    @ mybloodissilverandblack

    Exactly. See my post above. Winning teams don’t allow baskets like that in the closing minutes of a close game.

  • SAinSLC

    I think Coach Bud drew that play up. Look at his face at the 13-15 second marks. He’s giddy.

    Reminiscent of another gem of an out-of-bounds play he dialed up when Pop had been ejected from a T-Wolves game earlier this season. Duncan from the corner of the foul line to a wide-open RJ in the middle of the lane for a 2 fisted slam. Does that one ring a bell?

    Here’s the link to the write-up on that game (video of the play I referenced included).


  • Alice

    When I first saw the play, I thought it was going to be either Manu or Matt for a three, and that it had all gone wrong, but then suddenly there was Tim wide open under the basket. It was the best play I have seen in a long time.

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  • rob

    Double screens to open the weak side of the court aren’t anything new. This one was run to perfection.

    Great call. Obviously there was something there coach Pop or coach Bud saw during the game that let them know this would work.

    To not put a man on Duncan was insane on the part of Milwaukee, but…got to love the play.

  • c

    The only other time I can remember Timmy being so wide open was 2008 Game 1 of the playoffs.