Phoenix Suns 110, San Antonio Spurs 113

by

San Antonio began the fourth quarter of this afternoon’s game against Phoenix with a three point lead. Over the next 12 minutes, the Spurs did not make too many defensive stops; Amare Stoudemire, Steve Nash, and Jason Richardson all scored with ease. Luckily the Suns aren’t exactly known for their lockdown defense either, and the Spurs were able to maintain their lead, even build on it slightly, as the quarter progressed.

With 1:16 left in the game, Manu Ginobili hit two free throws and put the Spurs back up by four, the margin by which they led most of the quarter. After Amare muscled his way through a double team and made a layup, the Spurs were hoping to working their way back to a two possession game when a George Hill pass was stolen by Jared Dudley. Dudley immediately looked up the court and fed the ball to a streaking Richardson, who had a few feet on the closest defender and looked poised to make the highlight reel.

Richardson made the highlight reel, alright, but for the wrong reasons. The two-time dunk champion slammed the ball off the back of the rim and the rebound was corralled by Ginobili, who had trailed Richardson up the floor. The game was far from over– the next 40 seconds would see a little heroism and some unexpected errors from members of both teams –but that play defined the Spurs 113-110 victory over the Suns this afternoon.

The Spurs would score six more points before the game was over, the Suns five. The Spurs points all came from free throws. The most memorable of those were the two made by George Hill, who quietly absorbed some trash talk from Amare Stoudemire and then proceeded to let his work at the charity stripe speak for him. The Spurs almost missed an opportunity to take the final two, when Tim Duncan made an ill-advised in-bounds pass from half court back towards the Suns basket with just over 3 seconds left in the game. The pass was nearly intercepted by Grant Hill, but Manu managed to gather the ball and was immediately fouled.

On the previous play Steve Nash had hit a 27-foot, fading 3-pointer, pulling the Suns back within one. But after Manu made both free throws, Nash passed up a 3-point shot with under two seconds left and instead shuttled the ball to Channing Frye, who was unable to get off a 2-point jumpshot before the buzzer sounded. The pass made no sense: the clock was about to expire and the Suns were down by three. A two, even a wide-open one, did them absolutely no good. Both Frye and Nash deserve some of the blame. Frye was clearly supposed to setup along the 3-point line, while Nash should have recognized he was out of position and take the shot himself. Either way, Frye’s shot came after the buzzer and the Spurs escaped with the win.

This is may be the first game all season that I can honestly say Manu Ginobili, Tony Parker, Tim Duncan, Richard Jefferson, and Antonio McDyess all played well.

Ginobili continued to play at the high level we have seen him operate at in recent games. He had an unremarkable day from the field (5-13) but his clutch free throw shooting and court generalship were priceless during the game’s closing minutes.

Parker started the game aggressively, a times recapturing the quickness he’s had a hard time sustaining this year. He had an efficient 6-11 day from the floor, but didn’t see any minutes during the games closing stretch- Pop chose to go with a Manu Ginobili/George Hill backcourt instead. There have been other moments this season when Parker has been on the bench at the end of a tight game, but it’s just as likely that Popovich was being conservative with his minutes because of Parker’s recent injury troubles.

Robin Lopez bothered Tim Duncan during the first quarter, but as the contest wore on, the four-time NBA champion took the sophomore to school. Duncan nailed bank shots from the wing and attacked the basket with either hand, finishing the game with a workmanlike 21 points and 10 rebounds. Like any win over a quality opponent, success begins and ends with the reliable, quiet dominance of Tim Duncan.

Jefferson played what may have been his best game of the season. It’s certainly one of the best games he’s played against a playoff caliber opponent. While on offense he played with a clear head and an aggressive attitude. He attacked the rim consistently and productively, either finishing with strength or drawing contact, sometimes both. He showed a little something extra on the defensive end, hustling through his rotations and even recording a clean block against Amare Stoudemire at one point.

But of the five former all-stars on the Spurs, my favorite performance came from Antonio McDyess. During the third quarter, McDyess hyper-extended his left knee while coming down hard after a missed put back. He was helped off the floor and back to the locker room. Unexpectedly, he not only returned to the bench but came back into the game with around 9 minutes left in the third. McDyess then proceeded to nail three of the four 18-footers he loves to take but has struggled to hit consistently this season. It’s not exactly McDyess’ Willis Reed moment, but it makes for a charming subplot.

McDyess’ return to the game after his hyperextension also reveals something interesting about the current mindset of Gregg Popovich. Earlier this week, Pop said he was going to play Richard Jefferson at three almost exclusively. In other words, we were going to see far less of the small that has become so controversial. But when McDyess went down it momentarily threw a wrench into the rotational scheme Pop had etched out for the game, and instead of inserting Bonner, who saw the court briefly at the end of the first, into the lineup, Pop chose to go small to finish the third.

But as soon as McDyess was ready, he was immediately inserted back into the lineup. Pop did not leave Jefferson at the four any longer than was necessary and, except for the closing moments of the game when the Suns had four shooters on the floor, he chose to deploy a lineup with two traditional bigs from then on. Despite the brief lapse back into small ball during the third, McDyess’ post-hyperextension court time suggests that Popovich may be seriously committed to working within a more traditional frontcourt framework.

A two-time dunk champion missing a wide open dunk to tie the game. A misguided pass by one of the most cerebral big men in the history of the NBA. An even more misguided pass by one of the game’s most inventive point guards. And an injury-riddled big who returns to the game after being helped off the floor.

It’s as unlikely an ending to an NBA game as any of us could have imagined. And yet, when someone writes a history of the rivalry between the Phoenix Suns and the San Antonio Spurs, it won’t even be close to the book’s strangest chapter.

  • Mason

    Amare couldn’t be stopped. But then again, the Spurs never hold Amare below 40 pts it seems. This was a good win, especially with the Sun’s ridiculous amount of blocks and the Spurs’ poor 3pt shooting.

    Parker is an underrated passer.

  • Trade Tp

    Gregg P is a dumbass. He got quality munites from Ian and Malik against Houston and they dont touch the floor this game.

  • Mason

    Forgot to add that I was glad Finley got a DNP. Next on the list is Bogus. His shots aren’t even close to going in and his defense is terrible. I’d like to see Hairston take his minutes.

  • Chris K.

    A solid game from the Spurs, the balanced scoring is a good sign that people are starting to find their shots in the offense. Jefferson seems more comfortable, perhaps playing under less pressure since his move to the bench…McDyess’ shot is as pretty as ever, Timmy is Timmy, Blair is Blair, at his best a game-changing bench energy guy…Manu’s recent play is very encouraging, but Tony’s recent injury troubles are the opposite.

    We’ve said it from the beginning: if the Big 3 aren’t healthy (and I mean, really healthy) the Spurs aren’t doing anything in the Playoffs.
    Also, if we don’t improve on defense we aren’t going anywhere either. At this point, losing in the WCF is this team’s ceiling…

  • Nadeem

    Bogan’s defense in NOT terrible. He needs to be played situationally which is what Pop is doing for the last few games. For example, he barely played 10 mins tonight. You guys might say whatever you want, but he is still our best perimeter defender (and yes, he is better than Manu and Hill).

    As far as Mahinmi is concerned, he looked out of place and missed several rotations against Houston. As Jesse pointed out, the only silver lining was his pick and roll defense. I wasnt surprised to see him in street clothes for the game. Hairston was also not very impressive the other day. But he did earn Pop’s respect on the defensive end. If u guys dint notice, Pop had him during the final minute for defensive purposes. Like Bogans, he is a liability of the offensive end and also on defensive when teams are running set plays. He is a good man-on-man defender and thats about it.

  • Anthony McDonald

    Somehow Phoenix fans will blame Richardson’s missed dunk on Horry.

    Anyway, tough spot for Malik to break in–sitting on the bench for 3 hours then thrust into action to guard Nash. Not cool. However, a great win. Phoenix played great but all the Spurs chipped in and won this one. RJ has looked so much better lately. The defense on the top pick and roll was suspect only because the help man habitually arrived late…leading to RJ getting posterized once. With an earlier rotation this win would have been so much easier and Mr “Me First” wouldn’t have scored 40+.

    Phoenix is a very weak playoff team….they rely solely on Nash. Even on the last attempt they force fed the ball to Nash……easy to defend when you are certain where the ball’s going.

  • NL

    I hope RJ’s move more permanently to the 3 will bring more games like this one.

    TD had a huge offensive rebound in the closing seconds as well.

  • junierizzle

    Great win.

    It just goes to show you how good this team can be if they just hit shots. Hubie Said it himself.

    @Nadeem
    Are you sure you saw Hairston play in that Houston game?? He got 8 points all of which came from driving to the basket.
    On D, he was the only one fighting through screens and actually made AB miss a couple of shots.

    Anyway,

    I know the D was not the best, but most of that was AMARE. The Spurs always let him get his. Its their strategy, and they won.

    I still think RMJ should replace Bogans in the starting line up. RMJ should be getting Bogans looks. Bogans can play decent D at times, but he has put up at least 3 bagels in the last 5 games.

    You can’t have a starter putting up donuts, unless he’s gonna get you 14 rebounds.

    Im happy for RJ. He had a terrific game. I like how he went after AMARE even though he knew he was gonna get dunked on. If RJ keeps it up watch out.

    Also, MANU made a good point in the interview they showed between quarters.
    He said the Big 3 Have to lead. If they play good then of course its gonna be contagious. The Big 3 haven’t been consistent so obviously the role players are going to follow.

    They all played good today.

  • Jim Henderson

    Bogans minutes have been going down, and should continue to. His defense is only decent, not impressive. It was never thought that he could approach Bowen’s class, and he emphatically hasn’t. And Bogans really doesn’t give us anything else but decent “D”. Look at his line, again: 0-3 fg., ZERO points, rebounds, & assists, in 10 minutes of play.

    I trust Pop will make the right call here, but I think it’s worth switching Bogans & Hairston’s roles within the next week or so, if not sooner (unless Jefferson could play like tonight most nights we could go back to starting him). In the meantime, get Hairston a few MORE minutes. Pop obviously trusts him a bit on the defensive end or he wouldn’t have been put in for defensive purposes during the closing minute of a tight, must win game at home. On the offensive end, every indication is that Hairston is more productive than Bogans. Plus he’s younger, hungrier, an inch taller, and can take the ball to the rim.

    The two main veteran guys we acquired during the off-season came to play tonight. IF they could begin to play like that much more consistently we could win some games down the stretch. However, thus far they have been ridiculously inconsistent. So keep your fingers crossed in this area.

    Winning a close game against a hot team right now is a good win. CAN WE BUILD ON A GOOD WIN THIS TIME AND TAKE CARE OF A FEISTY HORNET TEAM TOMORROW NIGHT ON THE ROAD? Let’s hope so, because if you look at our schedule, the games aren’t going to get any easier.

  • BALLHOG

    @ nadeem…Cut it out with the Bogans jokes…You’re killing me…

    Spurs played better. Defense still sucked though. Jeff and Ginnobli played better and Hairston wasnt really needed today.

    However, Mahinmi was needed and should have played. He must get minutes now.

    Did you see the Lakers/Nuggets game? We need a presence in the middle. Give Mahinmi his 17 minutes. If he fouls out, so be it. We cant compete with those guys this way. Teams are taking Duncan away from the paint and scorinf layups at will…

  • The Man In Black

    Bonner played. He came in for a second at the end of I think the 1st quarter to ensure that Blair wasn’t going to pick up a cheap foul.

  • -SONofSAN-

    Good win today! I’m starting to think this tough schedule we have left, might work out in our favor! Its either gonna make us or break us! Another words I think if we go all out, bring everthing we have and take this tough schedule by storm, it might payoff in the end! Toughing us up, letting us grind some games out, and getting us used to playing against good playoff potential teams, hopefully gaining some good (better) cohesiveness and experience during this short time! To see what kind of heart we have left! breaking us by, well basically by not making the playoffs, calling this season a failed season, thinking real long and hard to see if we can still do anything with this core, or start breaking it up going into rebuilding mode! everbody can make there own accusations!

  • Spurs Fan

    Great game Spurs!!

    4 days left to donate to The Admiral Challenge to win a chance to sit courtside with David Robinson at Friday’s game —- already $10,561 has been raised thus far, lets keep it going!!!

    http://www.theadmiralchallenge.com

  • lvmainman

    The blueprint for Spurs success was laid tonight. Question is will Pop learn from it?

    1. No Finley, Bonner, Mason in the 2nd half.
    I, personally, believe Hairston should get the 1st 5 minutes of each half that Bogans got(Notice Bogans never played after the initial 1st 5 min of each half, other than as a defensive sub). Maybe Pop will see that in the future. We can’t have Bogans go 0 for 3 with a turnover in every 1st qtr like he’s done in the past 2 games. Play Hairston, he’ll turn those 3 pt looks into running head starts for layups or fouls on the D.

    2. By circumstance due to Parker’s injury, Ginobili ran the point in the last 6 minutes of the 4th qtr.
    This should be the Spurs strategy in every game. His playmaking is critical. Even the poor pass behind Duncan, he retrieved and drew a foul from Frye.

    3. In Duncan’s limited minutes, he received the most post touches I can remember in a long time.
    Pop wanted Duncan in pick and roll early in the year to avoid wear and tear, but it seems better that Duncan be more a focal point in the post as the season wears on.

    So basically 8 man rotation 2nd half(preferably Hairston instead of Bogans), Ginobili at point in the last 6 minutes, and more Duncan post ups. Quite simple.

    Go Spurs Go.

  • idahospur

    Pop says RJ has more focus coming off the bench. Spurs are 6-0 when RJ scores 20.
    Parker-Hill-Dice-Duncan all work out in starting rotation.
    Manu-RJ-Blair come off the bench works well.
    Finley-Bogans-Bonner suck.
    Hairston-Mahinmi don’t know the system.
    So….we need someone to start and play the 3, that doesn’t fit somewhere else.

  • Gary

    Really happy for this win,

    Manu is still going on :D

    I suspect only minutes bogan see is the starting one cause we can’t start manu if we want manu to be manu in the 4th

  • grego

    Pop didn’t play Hairston much because the other wings were playing pretty good.

    The majority of minutes went to Parker/Manu/RJ/Hill.

    Bogans played 10.5 minutes. That’s pretty good for those who are complaining about his negatives.

    Pop coached this game pretty well and did what everyone has asked. You can’t do every single thing.

  • http://www.48minutesofhell.com Timothy Varner

    @Grego, +1

  • http://www.48minutesofhell.com Graydon Gordian

    The Man in Black-

    Thanks for the heads up. I had forgotten about that.

  • Vice

    One thing I saw tonight with the Spurs that I haven’t seen them do almost all season long – talk to each other. You see Manu taking charge and being vocal. You see TD getting vocal, telling people what to do and where to be. We need to get back to this. Playing wtih intensity and a purpose.

    Mahinmi is going to get eaten by offensive bigs. Maybe if he were up against someone like Birdman, or Tyrus Thomas, or Ben Wallace – fine. But he can’t defend a big one on one.

    Hairston actually looked pretty good. Nice one on one D. The team D he needs to learn some more. I’d rather him be in there when we go small ball (for lack of bigs) instead of Bogans.

  • gospurs44

    Today was definitely a good win for the Spurs. I think this up and down type play is what we’ll see out of them the rest of the year. Three things need to happen for this team to have a chnace. 1) Jefferson and McDyess have to play the way they did today. I think someone said the Spurs are 6-0 when RJ scores 20 or more. 2) Tony has to get as healthy as possible and Tim and Manu need to stay that way. With Tim and Manu playing so good, if Tony could get healthy, their chances would improve greatly. 3) They have to shoot better from beyond the arc. Hubie Brown pointed out today that no Spurs player is shooting better than 40% from 3pt land. When the shooters are hitting their shot that opens things up in the paint.
    With the lack of size inside on this team outside shooting is really important.

    As far as Bogans is concerned I think 10.5 minutes on the court is about 10 minutes to long. In his last two games he’s scored as many points as me and he’s played 24 more minutes! I don’t think Hairston is the answer and I’ve said here before that I don’t see what everyone else does but after watching Bogans and Finley struggle mightily I’m now willing to take a look. He couldn’t be any worse.

  • spursfanbayarea

    I have to agree with junierizzle about Jeffersons play. Jefferson must have learned something from Ginobillis block on Durant. Obviously he did not get the block, but the fact he went for it was impressive. Sometimes you get posterized, and other times you will get the block. You will also put a speck of doubt into anyone thinking they will get a free layup. Previouly you would have not seen that type of effort from Jefferson. Even though he got dunked on, I am pleased with the effort and hopes he continues the defensive aggression he showed tonight.

  • http://www.forexeasynow.com Emmanuel Olujumu

    I still can’t believe the Spurs pulled away with this game. Manu and Duncan had 21 points each, but i can’t wait to see how they will perform in the western conference playoffs.

  • SpurredOn

    Important to remember that in many Spurs-Suns contests from yesteryear, whenever the Spurs have the lead late, the final 2-minutes often see the Suns score some quick and easy baskets, especially from Amare. Pop wisely doesn’t want to double Amare or trap Nash and give up a 3 when we have the lead. That has often led to the Suns finishing strong on the offensive end while the Spurs still leave with victory. This game was no different, with the exception of not having Bowen to hound Nash at the end.

    It was nice to see the guys beat a very talented team (that’s been playing good defense lately) on a day where they didn’t play great. Tony still isn’t healthy. Manu nor Hill shot lights out. And RMJ continues to bring zero offense. Yet they beat a solid playoff team, thanks in part to RJ. If he can ever be a 16+ point per game guy who doesn’t make defensive lapses, this team will take off.

  • Ferenc

    “Over the next 12 minutes, the Spurs did not make too many defensive stops; Amare Stoudemire, Steve Nash, and Jason Richardson all scored with ease.”

    This really doesn’t sound good. I’m happy with the W but this is why they’ve been posting plenty of Ls…and the team’s gonna get dumped out of the first round of the playoffs if this sense of false ‘optimism’ (that the team played well) continue to exist.

  • SpurfromVI

    Great win!!! But….

    Its hard to be optimistic with the horrible pick and roll defense the Spurs have.

    Even the under .500 teams have picked up on the strategy for beating the Spurs (think Detroit). Get Tim out of the paint and roll directly to the rim.

    Answer this question Spurs nation. Who is protecting the rim when Tim’s not there. As they say when the cats away, the mice will play.

  • Tyler

    Of all the rotations Pop has put out this year, this was the best. The mix between the 1st and 2nd team was great.

    RJ might have found his niche, he looked great yesterday. He was as aggressive as I’ve seen him the last 25 games. When he gets to the rim and finishes, it looks like he takes his jumper with more confidence. His play over the last few games has really improved.

    As much as I love Hairston (and I think he should eat into Finley and Bogans’ minutes), he made a HUGE mistake late in the 4th when guarding Nash – he went under an Amare screen, allowing an open, albeit long, 3 pter by Nash. I don’t remember how we were playing the pick and roll at the time (I know we had been trapping the last few possessions), so I’ll refrain from placing all the blame on Malik, but you still can’t go under the screen on a shooter like Nash. You gotta lock and trail (a la Bowen) and run him off the 3 pt line.

    The funny part of this sequence: Pop trusts Malik to lock down Nash at the end of the 4th quarter, yet can’t find minutes for him earlier in the game? So Pop, do you trust him or not? Mixed signals here……

  • http://mundoalbiceleste.blogspot.com john

    The Sun Always Shine on Manu in Phoenix

    Manu GINOBILI admitted that he and the San Antonio Spurs were not at their very best in their last against the Houston Rockets. Today against another familiar rival, he made sure none of that was ever going to happen again.

    The Phoenix Suns are well aware the kind of damage that he inflict on them when he starts to roll. And that was the exact script with Manu posting 21 points, dishing out 8 assists, colleting 6 rebounds plus one steal as the Spurs rolled out 113-110 to win the game. He was once again, outshined the entire Suns defence who scored 17 points in total between four players.

  • Blofeld

    Can anyone explain to me why Hairston shouldn’t get Bogus’ minutes? I know he’s still raw, but he couldn’t do any worse.

  • http://48minutesofhell.com PLAYHAIRSTON!

    Good game yesterday, RJ really impressed me with his aggression, seemed confident. Hairston D has been good, which is why Spurs chose to keep Hairston over Marcus. I just hope that they translate this win and get a run going. I would love to see Ian get more minutes, he is athletic and his presence down low makes a player think twice when driving the basket.

  • DieHardSpur

    What did you guys think of the clinic that Timmy put on for the younger bigs of Phoenix? It was really nice to see!

    I almost want to believe the reason Jefferson was so aggressive was because Malik Hairston told him he was gonna take his minutes, with the way he was slashing Houston’s defense… RJ couldnt let that happen. I would like to see Malik get more time at the 2 with Ginobli at point…

  • Greyberger

    BOGANS AND THE WING ROTATION

    Keith Bogans played 11 minutes on Sunday – a few seconds at the end of each half as a defensive substitution, from the start of the first to 6:24 remaining, and from the third to 6:52 remaining. In the regular rotation he played exclusively alongside Parker, Hill, Duncan and Dice.

    All season long Pop has been looking for the best way to use Bogans, or perhaps looking to see if he can be used much at all when the real basketball starts. Experiments that are more or less failed and abandoned include playing him in a small-ball setup with RJ at 4 and duncan or blair at 5; playing him behind RJ and with the Manu-Blair-x-x unit; and playing him at the 2 when RJ and a pair of bigs are out there. These are lineups that work but don’t work as well when Bogans is in there.

    When Keith is on the court, we’re worse at scoring, shooting, assist %, rebounding, and scoring and shooting defense. Especially bad are any lineups that feature Bogans without 2 of Duncan Tony or Manu; without their playmaking abilities I guess his limited offense is more exposed. When watching the games you get an illustration of this by how ugly the offense looks when Bogans, Mason, Bonner (or RJ) have to dribble the ball and make the decisions.

    In this light it makes sense for Pop to play Keith in the defensive specialist/RJ’s beard position with Duncan Dice Tony and Hill. That’s four guys who CAN make good decisions with the ball and create offense.

    While I’d still rather see Mason emerge as the minutes sponge at this position I can see why Bogans is getting the privilege of playing with the old guys.

  • Colin

    @Trade Tp

    “Gregg P is a dumbass. He got quality munites from Ian and Malik against Houston and they dont touch the floor this game.”

    –great pearls of wisdom with that one. They got quality minutes because the team was down 20+, there was no one else to put in. Although they will need Hairston to play some productive minutes from here on out (with the release of Finley).

    I thought that playing against one of the worst defenses in the league in Phoenix was the main catalyst for this win. Jefferson will need to contribute like this consistently for the Spurs to have a puncher’s chance in any playoff series. The front office brought him in to be the 18-20ppg scorer that he has been most his career and it has blown up in our faces. It was nice to see some sense of urgency in his game.

  • Jim Henderson

    Collin, from your comment above:

    @Trade Tp

    “Gregg P is a dumbass. He got quality munites from Ian and Malik against Houston and they dont touch the floor this game.”

    –great pearls of wisdom with that one. They got quality minutes because the team was down 20+, there was no one else to put in. Although they will need Hairston to play some productive minutes from here on out (with the release of Finley).

    You’re suggesting that Hairston is/should only be used for “extended” minutes as a last resort. I don’t think so. At this point (after the Houston performance) he should be getting Bogans (who offers little advantage over Hairston that I can see) minutes to see what he can bring on a consistent basis.

    Also, Hairston’s minutes should have very little to do with Finley being waived. Number one, Finley has hardly played any minutes to take from over the past 30 games. Number two, they’re (Finley/Hairston) completely different players. If anything, Mason could get a few more minutes because of the move to waive Finley.

  • Colin

    Jim Henderson

    We are all entitled to our opinions, but to calling the coach a dumbass is rather juvenile and reaction-based at this point don’t you think? At least use something a little more clever.

    My comment was more based on the flow of the game. Whether or not you agree Hairston should be playing more (and I do), Poppovich had played everyone but Mahinmi/Hairston up until that point so he put them in while down 20+ points and they produced. Contrary to what I think of Mahinmi, I am not suggesting that Hairston be a “last resort,” but that is how he was used in that particular game. That’s what I’m getting at. The fact is that Hairston WILL be getting more minutes now that Finley is gone. They do play the same position and Finley has gotten more minutes there over the course of the season, so it seems logical right?

  • Colin

    Jim

    —I do agree with you on your thoughts about Bogans

  • Jim Henderson

    Colin,

    First, I wasn’t agreeing with Trade TP on this part of what he said: “Gregg P is a dumbass.” FAR from it. I’m a big supporter of Pop, and me & Trade TP have locked horns at length on this issue before.

    Second, the way you originally stated the issue of player rotations implied that Hairston only played extra minutes against Houston because we were getting blown out, well into the third period (this well may be true). But the “Trade TP” comment was not concerned with “why” they (Ian & Malik) got extra minutes that game, but only that they “should” have gotten extra minutes again (in the Suns game) because of the quality of their performance that night against the Rockets.

    I am glad that you clarified your position in your subsequent post, and see that Bogans just simply is not giving us much at all on a consistent basis, and that Malik (and the team) deserves a chance that Malik could offer us more. The fact is, Bogans is hurting our team, and our team is not strong enough to have any “weak” kinks to contend in the playoffs (or perhaps even make the playoffs). Now, there’s a good chance putting Malik in the rotation in place of Bogans won’t help us, but we won’t know for sure until he’s given a legitimate chance for as long as it takes as long as he’s not “hurting” the team (i.e., doing worse than Bogans has done). I’m hoping Pop does give Malik a shot, soon, but if he doesn’t I’m not going to be upset with him, etc. He knows a lot more than I’ll ever know about how to effectively coach this team.

    Finally, the point about you suggesting that Malik should get more minutes when Fin leaves is this: yes, they both are “swingmen”, that is, they can play both the SG & SF position, BUT, Fin is almost entirely a 3-pt. specialist at this point in his career, and is not a good defender. Malik on the other hand has not established himself yet as an NBA 3-pt. shooter, yet he does play pretty aggressive “D”.

    So then, if one looks at Fin & Malik’s game, a coach would not call on Fin to play tough “D”, and a coach would not call on Malik to provide a bonafide 3-pt. presence. As a result, now that Fin is gone, if during an upcoming game Pop wished he still had someone like Fin to fill a need (3-pt. shooting), would he call on Malik to fill that need? Not very likely. This fact, plus the recognition that Fin was getting hardly any minutes anyway over the last 30 games, and Malik didn’t either, suggests that the release of Fin will not be a reason for Malik’s minutes to increase over the remainder of the season. He will get more minutes if he can convince Pop that he’s a better option than Bogans, because they each fill similar needs in our system. I hope I’ve made myself clear.