San Antonio Spurs 101, Atlanta Hawks 99: Sure, it’s just preseason, but it was fun

by

AT&T CENTER — It’s funny how quickly your emotions can change from dread to excitement. We sat there with the score tied at 99, 6.2 seconds left, hoping to avoid overtime at all costs. It’s preseason and a weeknight, let us get our rest while we still can. What resulted was the capper to a helluva preseason performance for Nando De Colo.

De Colo received the inbounds pass and created just enough space to get a jumper off and give the Spurs a 101-99 win. It was the type of hero ball play one wouldn’t associate with Gregg Popovich. That’s because Tony Parker, who didn’t play in the game, drew it up during the preceding timeout. It wasn’t quite the offensive set Manu Ginobili drew one preseason night in Mexico City, but like the 3-pointer that Gary Neal dropped in two years ago, it got the job done.

The Spurs’ only rookie finished the night with 11 points on 4-7 shooting and nine assists, doing his best to dazzle the crowd and befuddle those set to receive his passes.

“He’s a heck of a creative passer like Manu,” Coach Pop said after the game. “He really reads situations offensively and defensively.”

While De Colo is likely to get most of the praise in the wake of his first NBA game-winner, the Spurs wouldn’t have been in such a position without the efforts of the big men fighting for the 15th and final roster spot.

Eddy Curry, Josh Powell and Derrick Brown all put in nights strong enough to give Coach Pop some selection problems, if in fact the Spurs are looking to open the season with 15 players. Curry scored 11 points and grabbed eight rebounds, while Powell had 14 points and Brown chipped in 10.

Curry had a strong first half but faded a bit early in the second half. While he had a good game, I simply don’t see the logic in using the final roster spot on Curry. He seems like a redundant piece. Everything he does well, the Spurs don’t seem to be lacking in that area. Everywhere the Spurs can use some assistance (pick-and-roll D, protecting the rim), Curry doesn’t help all that much.

The same, however, can’t be said for Brown. At 6’8″ and 233 lbs, Brown has the versatility to play both small and power forward, which he did in this game. During one stretch he was playing the 4 and defending the Hawks’ Ivan Johnson, on the next he was chasing 3-point specialist Kyle Korver through screens around the perimeter. He only had two rebounds, but the two he did have were those in which he had to go out of his area (not within three feet of him) to get.

The versatility to guard multiple positions could give Brown whatever leg up is available in the fight for the last roster spot.

  • riba

    Curry has what you can’t teach, size and strength. And although he has underperformed maybe Pop, Tim, Manu … can motivate Curry so that he becomes an asset rather than a liability. The guy was once a 20 pts, 8-10 rebounds per game player in the NBA. I saw him hold his own against a dominant Shaq. Yes, he has been in the league many years but he doesn’t have the corresponding mileage due to injuries and other problems that kept him from playing. The Spurs need size ! There are no other cheap bigs out there so Curry should be given a spot if he performs.

  • Ali

    Was this game on NBA League Pass because I couldnt find it. I live in LA so I cant get the Spurs channels

  • Ali

    Although, i didn’t see the game. Andrew you are dead wrong. You say Curry is redundant and Brown isn’t. I’m not sure, but have you heard of the 2 guys Spurs have named Kawhi and Jackson; in case you have not noticed they too play both the 3 and 4 and are playoffs proven. So even if Brown makes the team he won’t play in the playoffs because he does not bring anything new to the team and is not as good as they guys I mentioned.

    On the other hand, Curry might not help in the area you mentioned. but remember he is going to bring something new to the team, mainly his Size which the Spurs don’t have. Remember sometimes the best Defense is a great offense. The same way that the best way to defend Nash is by attacking him on the offensive end, Curry is the only one on this team that has a chance to attack Howard on offense end besides Duncan. And on defense Howard will kill anyone, not named Duncan(btw can you do a post on Duncan vs Howard, vs Bynum when they play man to man, because the eye ball test tells me Duncan shuts them down, especially the 2010-2011 season) in man to man situations. on the defensive end, at least Curry can make him work for it, purely because of his size and POP’s IQ.

    At the end of the day Curry brings a new element, while Brown, Powell, and Blair don’t. So they are situations in which he is useful and I’m not sure I can say that about the rest.

  • aespurs

    i agree that jackson is a combo forward but kawhi isnt, not yet anyway. his defense is still best served on the wing while brown has a better body and instinct for defending the post (i still hold my opinion that kawhi is going to develop into a swingman, not a combo forward, but thats a different topic entirely). i agree curry is needed but for a different reason. duncan is our only reliable, healthy (thats the scary part) center. but hes going to get many nights off and tiago keeps getting nagging injuries, you know the ones that will randomly happen one night and throw things out of whack for everyone else. i think curry is needed for this reason. in all honesty, the spurs can get by with a guy like powell instead of curry because besides the lakers, who else has two 7 footers who can post up, let alone two 7 footers? all the other pfs in the league are 6’9-6’10 and play face up to the basket, meaning they need to be defended by someone more mobile like powell or brown, which is Andrew’s point above. against a team that deploys, say, al jefferson and paul millsap, curry wouldnt stand a chance playing against mobile bigs like that while a guy like powell or brown would probably hold their own a lot better. i agree that against the lakers, curry is the best option to throw out there just for the fact that while one 7 footer is occupied defending howard, gasol will be able to shoot over shorter pfs. but besides that a more mobile and versatile pf would make sense. so yes i agree curry would be useful, but IMO just because i know duncans gona get nights off and also cause tiago is starting to get nagging injuries, and guys with nagging injuries cant be relied upon very well

  • Tim in Surrey

    Utah, Memphis, Minnesota, Denver, Golden State, and OKC can all throw big lineups out there that will cause us problems if either Tiago or Tim are unavailable. Utah can (and probably will at times) go with a lineup of Al Jefferson at C, Derrick Favors or Enes Kanter at PF, and Paul Millsap at SF. And the Clippers can also put Odom (assuming he shows up to play this year) at SF and go with three bigs as well and New Orleans can play Ryan Anderson there with Anthony Davis at PF. I don’t think that Curry is the answer to this situation, mind you, but there are a lot more teams than just LA.

    The answer, of course, is to go the other way. If Utah puts Jefferson, Favors, and Millsap on the floor, then put Kawhi, Manu, and Jackson out there with Tim and Tony and run them out of the gym. It won’t be long before one of Utah’s big men sits down.

  • Tim in Surrey

    Two things: First, he has other things you can’t teach–nor would you want to. Eddy Curry always reminds me of this famous exchange from Buffy the Vampire Slayer, between Principal Skinner and Percy, the star of the basketball team:

    Skinner: “Nothing seems to motivate him.”
    Percy: “Hey, I’m challenged.”
    Skinner: “Hm. You’re lazy, spoiled, and self-involved. That’s quite the challenge.”

    Joss Whedon must have been thinking of Curry when he wrote that. (Or maybe it was Darko.) Second, size is meaningless. The freak parade of 7’6″ centers who couldn’t play basketball proved that emphatically. The Spurs don’t need size, they need ability–specifically the ability to defend the interior. While size certainly helps a player defend the interior, there’s a lot more to it than that. I’d rather have the relatively lilliputian Chuck Hayes doing that job than Curry. Maybe Curry can do it, maybe not. I don’t know. But there is no evidence whatsoever from his relatively long career in the NBA to prove that he can. Those points he scored were some of the emptiest points in NBA history and those Bulls and Knicks teams were TERRIBLE. An older, less fit, and less confident version of that same guy won’t help anybody. A motivated, fit, and confident Curry might possibly do the job, but even with those qualifiers added, I’m not sure he would do it better than Brown or Powell. Defending the pick-and-roll requires quickness as well as height–which is why Tim is no longer at guarding it. And one thing Curry has NEVER possessed is quickness (relatively speaking). The job Curry can do very well is to score. But we don’t especially need that.

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

    I don’t think this game was televised at all.

  • Pingback: Cory Joseph is creeping into the backup point guard conversation | 48 Minutes of Hell

  • Titletown99030507d

    Based on the Andrews post and the number of minutes he played Curry seemed to have less of a productive 2nd half. Is that because of the number of minutes he played and isn’t used to playing that much until now? But he probably wouldn’t play more than 15 minutes anyway during the regular season.
    Didn’t see the game either but can a fresh Curry playing 10-15 minutes contribute to those big lineups we go up against or is defending the PNR too much of an issue for him?

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

    It’s a huge issue. And even by hanging back near the hoop, he doesn’t protect the rim all that well either.

  • Tyler

    As has been learned on several occasions, the answer to any question is not – repeat not – “Eddy Curry”.

  • http://www.facebook.com/dromjohn John M. Perkins

    Not saying I want Curry over Brown and Powell, but as a 15th guy, Curry is not redundant. The 15th guys plays when one of the first 13 do not play. Pop will rest Duncan often in a back-to-back. Splitter gets nagging injuries. Curry would become a rotation player when Duncan or Splitter don’t dress. [Ginobili should miss many games, but that's Joseph's spot as 14th guy.]

  • GoSpursGo

    Regarding Curry-He is what he is. He is not going to change his spots now, if he hasn’t done so in the last 10 years. We like to believe that coming to the Spurs will turn every malcontent into a go getter, but it simply isn’t the case.

    Curry probably has the best tools, with both size and skill. But do the Spurs really want an under achiever on their squad. their culture has been built around guys who do more with less (currently Neal, Green, in the past Malik, AJ, Elie, Bowen…heck even Manu and TD are athletically subpar for Superstars), I do no think having a guy blessed with gifts he never used is the right guy for the bench. Give me a player who will bust his hump every second he is on the floor. He will contribute to the culture, which is as important as what he does on the floor.

  • rj

    i propose the spurs are looking to put some sort of trade package together to revamp their forward/center positions.

    why else would we have so many quality caliber guards on our roster? lots of teams would love to have cory joseph on their team and i think he has surpassed toro status. between neal,joseph,de colo, and mills, their has to be at least 2 tradeable pieces that the spurs could package with matt bonner and or dejuan blair. i would imagine this would be used for picking up a big or future draft picks.

    we need our bigs to be bigs and not perimeter, stretch guys and over acheiving, undersized motor guys that end up fading once the playoffs start.

    i’m gonna take a radical position and say we should trade bonner and waive blair to keep curry and powell. curry provides that mammoth size that can be used to eat up regular season mintues and josh powell is that mid range jump shooter the spurs have been needing for awhile. my one question is powell’s mobility. he looked pretty quick at the sienna game, although he set very poor screens and i could see manu reaming him for it.

    i predict some player movement in exchange for some high draft picks. any thoughts?

  • assistman

    Watching the game, I couldn’t help but wonder on the possibility of replacing Blair and Bonner with Curry and Powell. Bonner can’t seem to help us offensively in the playoffs, so his skill set is meaningless to me. So would Curry be an upgrade over Blair as a 3rd, 4th, or 5th bigman, especially in the event of injury to Splitter or Timmy?

    I know the Spurs don’t seem to utilize the Toros, but I’d like to send CJ and Nando down at least until the all-star break, An extensive stint of running his team and developing his scoring is something I’d love to see with CJ, and since Nando threatens Neal’s minutes,in SA tightening up our guard rotations would help all these guys improve their value (and trade value) by getting real minutes. This would also free up roster spots to give Powell, Brown, and Curry extended looks with 10 day contracts.

  • assistman

    see my reply to Tim in Surrey

  • STIJL

    As always you bring up some intriguing thoughts Andrew.

    First Curry. If Tiago and Tim (guessing so) make the team without a trade then Tiago and Tim will man the majority of time at the C position. (Shh…don’t let Duncan know that’s where he’s playing) The simple fact is Curry would probably only be used in an event that Duncan or Tiago were to unfortunately be injured or one of them having a really bad game. But Curry would serve as a good insurance policy to having a third big man on the team if that would happen.

    Second…Without Powell or Brown, the Spurs don’t really have tall athletic 3/4′s to serve purpose in establishing a small ball scenario that would offset a similar situation with OKC, Denver, or Miami. Sure Jackson or Kawhi could man the 4 spot…but they would not be as effective as a Brown or Powell simply for the fact you would be taking them completely out of their comfort range of performance. In other words they (Leonard or Jackson) would more than likely be reduced in effectiveness for having to play the 4 position. Having Brown or Powell would allow Pop to continue to insert Kawhi or Jackson at their most efficient while either Powell or Brown served specific purpose playing the 4 whilst not diminishing their respected ability to play that position.

    Third…and not discussed is Blair. Who is not fully guaranteed until after November 1st. In the event that Blair may not remain a Spur…the Spurs would have room to keep both Curry and Brown. But would it be a wise decision to let Blair go?

    Now if it were up to me and the Spurs were to like to keep more than just one of the three new bigs in camp for the season…and if the Spurs show to keep a three point efficiency on par without the use of Bonner…I would keep Blair and see what could be gotten via a Bonner trade even if it wasn’t for another player but for draft considerations and team salary reduction.

  • riba

    Tim, Curry can score on the low post consistently.He has low post scoring capabilities.Duncan can no longer endure the nightly beatings on the post thus his evolution to a mid range shooter with occasional forays to the post. Against the Thunder he had a very difficult time scoring against a younger, stronger and very physical Perkins. There is no other low post scorer with the exception of Parker. Curry maybe just maybe can provide some help. I am not suggesting that Curry will have an epiphany but with age some wisdom is acquired and maybe he is motivated to perform. If he does then a spot on the team should be reserved for Mr. Curry. Remember, in the playoffs perimeter scoring dips, recently teams have dug in and taken away the spurs 3 pts scoring, their best weapon, resulting in playoff exits despite being ranked as a 1 seed going into the post season.. The fact defensively they are not as good as they once were also hurt. The Spurs were really fortunate given the age of their core that all 3 were healthy for the playoff run. That is unlikely to happen again even with their minutes closely monitored. So the chances of Timmy lasting the entire season even sitting the second night of back to backs is possible but not probable. Curry could help.

  • Tim in Surrey

    Perhaps. But when you lead the league in scoring efficiency but are unceremoniously tossed out of the playoffs because of your defense, you don’t need a guy like Curry as much as you need a guy like Chuck Hayes. (Obviously he’s not available, but he’s an example of a guy with less hype and less height who would help us a lot more.) And as for Curry’s low post scoring… How do you know that he “can score on the low post consistently”? He played for the Heat all last year–a team that needed low post scoring specifically. But he didn’t provide it for them. So why assume that he’ll be different in San Antonio? I hope you’re right, frankly, and usually I’m all about the half-full glass. But in the case of Curry, I’ll only believe it when I see it.

  • Pingback: 3-on-3 Preseason Preview: Spurs vs. Nuggets | 48 Minutes of Hell

  • riba

    My point exactly, I do not know that he will be a consistent scorer but I am hopeful, more so than seeing Bonner hit 3′s in the playoffs when it means something. If Curry during the preseason performs give him a shot. He is talented despite his baggage. Plus he is cheap and at this point what do the Spurs have to lose. There are no other available bigs out there. And there is a need for a low post scorer or the threat of it to open up the 3 pts shooting. Otherwise defenses will sit on the perimeter to challenge the long distance sharpshooters. It’s difficult to consistently hit 3′s with a hand in your face all the time. As to Chuck Hayes he is an awesome defender. I have enjoyed seeing him defend Gasol. Answer me this, Blair has the same body type and toughness why can’t he be more like Chuck Hayes. Last point, Miami has the best player in the world who can play inside and outside. In addition they have 2 other stars who are in their prime. Curry scoring in the low post was not a necessity for Miami although it would have helped. The Spurs need one despite their outside shooting prowess in the regular season because in the playoffs the game changes. Anyway I have enjoyed the exchange. I hope they get a 5th ring whichever way it happens.

  • Pingback: Orlando Magic 104, San Antonio Spurs 100: Derrick Brown adds new wrinkle to chase for 15th roster spot | 48 Minutes of Hell