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