San Antonio Spurs 101, Dallas Mavericks 89: “We fully realize that was not the Dallas Mavericks.”

by

AT&T CENTER — No matter the outcome of San Antonio’s game on Friday night against the Dallas Mavericks, without Dirk Nowitzki it would prove nothing about where these two teams stood. Again.

And after the Spurs beat Dallas 101-89 in a game San Antonio controlled from start to finish, we learned two things we already knew: Dallas is punch-less without Dirk and Tony Parker is very, very good.

Sans Dirk on the floor for the Mavericks, Jason Kidd is the only player seemingly capable of creating offense for those around him. Unlike Dirk, though, Kidd can rarely create offense for himself.

When Kidd sat down for a breather late in the first quarter, the Spurs took a nine-point lead and stretched it to 18, outscoring Dallas 27-18 in the process. With Kidd on the bench, the Dallas offense devolved into possession after possession of trying to find a matchup that worked in their favor.

“We’re a couple bullets short of a clip,” Mavericks forward Shawn Marion said. “When you’re a couple short, others got to pick up the slack in all areas and not just in one area.”

Offensively, Tony Parker ran the show for the Spurs and completely controlled the night’s proceedings. Parker scored or assisted the first seven baskets of the game and finished the first quarter with 10 points and four assists. On the night, he logged 18 points and six assists in 25 minutes, but his finger was on the pulse of the game the whole way.

“[Tony] did a really good job of making decisions, for himself or for a teammate,” Spurs Head Coach Gregg Popovich said after the game. “He kept us real aggressive to start.”

With Kidd guarding him, Parker was much too quick and shifty for the Dallas point guard to keep up with. When Parker ran the pick-and-roll against Kidd and Tyson Chandler, Dallas frequently switched, leaving Chandler guarding Parker. Recognizing this, Parker pulled the ball out and the Spurs would clear the lane. This gave Parker the freedom to blow by Chandler and generate points, or pull-up for an 18-foot jump shot.

Nothing surprising happened in the latest installment between these division rivals. Tim Duncan got another double-double. Jason Terry took another cheap shot. And, when it comes to Dirk Nowitzki not playing, the Spurs got another win.

  • Bentley

    T.D=Best Ever

    The only people on the Spurs roster that could hit Tiago or any of our other bigs rolling off the P&R would be Parker and Ginobili. Gary Neal tried a few times and turned the ball over.

    The problem is..both Ginobili and Parker are in the starting lineup, so you are right in saying his maximum development could only come playing in the starting lineup.

  • Daniel B.

    I have one thing to say:

    That was the highest I’ve ever seen Timmy jump.

    Amazing. I loved it.

  • Kintaro

    I agree with everything in the T.D.=Best Ever post.

  • Hobson13

    rob
    January 15th, 2011 at 11:06 am

    That’s a pretty harsh assessment of Splitter. However, we lobby like hell for him to get minutes, then when he does play for 15 minutes, he gets 3 rebounds, 1 assist, and 2 fouls. Not exactly what you’d expect from a guy we’ve put so much stock in. Not to pile on, but most of Splitter’s big games have come from Manu or Tony creating the play and then dishing off a pass for a layup. In other words, he has no discernable back to the basket skills and he his midrange jumper is virtually no existent.

    I certainly hope we aren’t being too critical of Tiago, but apparently Pop’s real reason for not playing Splitter is that he, at this point, is not ready for the NBA game.

    TD = Best EVER
    January 15th, 2011 at 12:15 pm

    You make an interesting point about Tiago’s age and how much he can or can’t develop from here. At 26, Splitter only has so much potential left untapped.

    Let’s face it. We’re at the half way point in the season and there’s absolutely no reason to believe he will be a major factor in this year’s playoff run. If Splitter continues to develop at this pace, we may be better off trading him for a more mobile, athletic big. Of course we could always just trade a pick or two for an athletic big like Randolph…

  • rob

    @Bankshot21

    “Exactly what skills do you feel he doesn’t possess?”

    The inability to position himself for rebounds.
    The inability to defend without fouling.
    The inability to use his height effectively.
    The inability to be enough of a factor that teams have to account for him in the game.

    Granted he performs PnR offense to almost perfection…his inability to be anything other than that is counter productive.

    And as you stated…”but Tiago is indeed WEAK!…” I’ll also contend…he is slow. Very slow unless he is defending against the PnR. Which I don’t get. He can come out and defend quickly against the PnR but looks as though he is dragging a ball and chain in other aspects of his defense.

    Anyway, I didn’t mean to be so hard on Splitter. I’m just noticing all that he needs to improve upon if he is going to be a legit big man in this league.

    There’s a lot of work for him to do. More so than what I would have expected from a player that was so highly touted.

  • ThatBigGuy

    @ TD = BE

    “We may have wasted away what potential Tiagi could have given this team by leaving him overseas TOO LONG.”

    We didn’t leave “Tiagi” in Europe, he chose to stay for 3 reasons:

    1. He could make 8 times the NBA rookie salary.
    2. His sister was battling leukemia up until she passed away in 2009 and was getting her treatments in Spain.
    3. His buyout was large. NBA teams can only contribute $500K to a buyout, so Tiago would have had to pay most of his buyout himself.

    Besides, we let Manu “waste away” in Europe for 3 years before bringing him over and he turned out ok.

    “Fact: Tiago is used to being a top Option(just like RJ) so it will take him time(which at 26 he really doesn’t have) to get used to his new role.”

    Fact: RJ went from 1st option in Milwaukee to 4th option in SA, struggled, and is now embracing his role, all at the age of 30. I think Splitter can get it done at 26.

    Give the guy a chance. He’s barely 40 games into a notoriously hard system, after suffering an injury in training camp, all while using English as his 3rd language. He’ll be a 14/8/2 guy next year, so have some patience.

  • Hicksman

    It’ll take Splitter time, please lets not turn him into another Scola (giving him away for nothing). We gave Yawn 3yrs and we’re cooking Tiago after 40 games??? Yes his body will have to gain strength but has decent defensive instincts maybe not great but some rebounding skills agag\in things like post up game and passing out of the post will be vastly different in the NBA from any league (as will post D) so please people patience……. oh and how about Timmy getting OFF the GROUND WOOOOO HOOO
    GO SPURS GO!!!

  • Hobson13

    ThatBigGuy
    January 15th, 2011 at 2:58 pm
    “Fact: RJ went from 1st option in Milwaukee to 4th option in SA, struggled, and is now embracing his role, all at the age of 30. I think Splitter can get it done at 26.”

    Sure, but RJ is a proven NBA player and even a former All-star. Tiago hasn’t even proven he can play at this level.

    “We didn’t leave “Tiagi” in Europe, he chose to stay for 3 reasons:”

    Your 3 reasons are very valid, but I think the point TD was trying to make is the fact that Splitter is 26 years old and would have made himself a better basketball player had he been under NBA tutelage for the past 2-3 years. At this point, how much potential does a 26 year old player have?

    It’s still somewhat early in the season, but Splitter has not earned minutes and when he has played, most times he’s been underwhelming. I expect him to be much better next year, but we don’t need him next year. We need him for this year’s championship run. If the Spurs feel it necessary to have a better front line THIS year, a small trade may be in order since Blair and Splitter don’t appear to provide any sort of consistent answer.

  • Big Whit

    Big Whit agrees with ThatBigGuy. Tiago will develop. There were many times in the game where he moved to an open position under the basket, but no pass to him. He also often looks to pass to the open man, and does that effectively. During the last several minutes of the game, the Spurs point would bring the ball up court, dribble until 10 seconds left, attempt a play, and then turn the ball over. With little ball movement, no focus to get the ball to Splitter in scoring position, and his unselfish play, no wonder he is not an instant offensive Juggernaut.

  • rob

    Big Whit

    “no wonder he is not an instant offensive Juggernaut.”

    This team doesn’t need instant offensive juggernauts. Quite frankly…if there is something Tiago has proven to be decent at is offense. What he looks to be surely lacking in is his ability to rebound and defend. Both of which is a San Antonio Spur staple for it’s big men to be able to do in order for it’s system to work.

  • Big Whit

    @ rob

    You are right, we don’t need him to be an O-J and D/Rebounds are the better measures of a Spurs’ center.

    A lot of past comments have been made of Tiago being lost on the floor, etc., but I don’t think he has been that bad considering the situations where he plays and the personnel he plays with. I see him making mistakes, but I also see some good, such as reasonably good positioning on D, moving quickly across the key on help defense, the occasional steal, and taking a charge (I don’t see that as a negative as some others seem to). Yes, I agree he is not a defensive or rebounding Juggernaut, but he has proven talent and needs time to make it happen in the NBA.

  • Matt in OC

    TD=BE

    “Fact: Tiago is 26 – so he is has already done almost all of his developing. He may get stronger but that’s about it. At this age you don’t really learn many new moves or skills. He is a finished product at this point”

    I don’t think that’s accurate. We have seen aging players change or make mods to their games specifically because they have grown older. Think Kobe and back to the basket skill moves.

    I def agree that he spent too much time overseas. The spurs gained nothing while he was over there, and now it looks like he won’t be able to use any of those skills in the association. HOWEVER, I think that he can grow to become a better than average role player, to a middle of the road starter. Which to be honest, when coupled with Blair and our outstanding guards, that might be enough.

    I just thought of something tho, maybe pop and the FO just has an eye for guards. Manu, Tony, hill, Neal. They are all steals for where we got them and how they are playing. On the flip side, mahinmi and splitter have been less than stellar and Blair was can’t miss from the second round. Maybe they have a better eye for unearthing guards, and can’t seem to get that big they need.

    Just my opinion, what do the rest of the spurs disciples think?

  • duaneofly

    To Rob, about Splitter fouling on defense. Remember in Europe, play is more physical over there. What is a foul here may not be a foul over there. Expecting a guy to immediately change how he’s played defense for the past decade is a bit much.
    I seem to remember Tony having some trouble in the 03 playoffs and Speedy Claxton taking over at the point. Going from playing in Europe to in the NBA isn’t as easy a transition as some people seem to think it is.

    We’re forty games into the season and people are unhappy with Tiago and think we should trade him? Even though he missed training camp and as any NBA coach will tell you, there isn’t much time for practices during the season. Yet, we should trade Tiago for Anthony Randolph, or a pick for Randolph and forget about Tiago? Anthony Randolph, a guy who in his third year in the league is still sitting his ass on the bench. He’s more athletic than Tiago for sure, but that doesn’t mean he’s going to be a better player.

    Considering that we are 34-6, I think we can afford to give Tiago some time to learn and develop over next summer and going into next season.

  • rj

    maybe if you combine anjinca and mahinmi, you have an nba rotation big. mahinmi did looked servicable on the defensive end. haven’t been seeing the silly fouls, but if carlisle favors ajinca over him, that is a concern. maybe ian doesn’t resign with dallas and returns to s.a. with dyess gone next year, mahinmi, blair , and splitter and bonner and duncan looks like a strong frontline. splitter has lost confidence. he wasn’t running himself ragged setting screens, but he looked good defensively and made some crafty passes.

  • Titletown99030507

    @Bruno, damn good point, first he doesnt see any consistent time on the floor putting him on the court after 40 games every 6-7 games aint gonna cut it. Second I saw it too when he was on the floor with Quinn, Hill, and Neal those (ball hogs) guys refused to give Splitter any acknowledgement when he was free on the pick and rolls. Comon man your up 15 points with 4 min left give the guy his reward for setting up screens and playing some defense. I’m glad you saw that too cause I really thought no one would give a crap. Seems like Splitter just not getting a fair shake. If no one wants to play with him and everybody thinks he’s worthless in the NBA why don’t they trade to Houston for a 1st or 2nd round pick. He’ll 99.9% of you out there would go for it in a heart beat. I would too. I would like to see him play 30 min every night with Scola and the rest of the rockets.
    He just needs to be on another good team to show his skills. And really if the system is so hard for players to get adjusted here then send him off to Houston.

  • Titletown99030507

    Tiago is better on another team. Free Splitter Pop. Preferably to Houston. Why should they care if they send him to a Division foe? He sucks remember? I’d like to see him make Blair eat that basketball.

  • TD = Best EVER

    @ Matt in OC

    Kobe is a top 10 of all time player….. They are the exception to the rule, not the rule itself……..

    And as far as him staying for 3 years for good reasons. Thats cool – but it didn’t help us at all….. We need to stop leaving players overseas so long. Someone mentioned Manu but he played instantly after coming to SA…..

    Simple facts
    Dice isn’t getting younger
    Blair is SUPER inconsistent
    Bonner – tries hard but is not very talented

    And our insurance policy isn’t looking all that sure of himself right now……..

    Go back and look at the drafts since 2005 – Our FO has missed out of some decent Bigs (Carl Landry, Marcin Gortat, and Marc Gasol-what Memphis gave Pau up for) add this to a list of players like Williams. Gist etc that we drafted and it really looks like our FO has a better eye for guards than front court players.

    But on a lighter note – i have been looking at Richards on youtube lately….. We need to bring him in next year while he is still Raw to teach him the NBA – not Euro league ball…

  • TD = Best EVER

    @ Titletown99030507

    We all see those guys not passing him the ball. Those are the same guys who don’t pass to TD either. That means in the SPURS System – bigmen have to find another way to get buckets, like rebounding and running the floor hard. And if we could get a pick some where in the 8-12 range I would be all for it….. We would also get some lux tax relief as well – Make room for a Big that fits in our system …….

  • Matt in OC

    Ok, I think the thing that hurts Splitter most is our record.

    We have the best record in the league, and there isn’t alot of incentive to tamper. Not only do we have the best record, but everyone is seeing less time. Duncan is averaging career low min, Dice is super productive off the bench, Bonner has stepped his game up by leaps and bounds. He is drilling 3s left and right, and developed an effective, if not slightly comical dribble game, and his defense is much improved. And Blair is playing like a bat outta hell, forever the human sparkplug 2.0 (Manu being the original version.)

    What about that paragraph says we need to change, or rush Splitter into big (and potentially hurtful) mins?

    This 4-headed-monster that we have is everything you could look for in a group of bigs. Tiago will get there, but there isn’t anything to be gained right now. If you think about it, we aren’t even getting beaten by the opposing 4/5s.

    I look at it as an Amare w/ Suns situation. Go for 40 every time you play us, we will still win because you can’t beat us by yourself.

    To me, the times we have lost have been because a guard either went off, or a guard got everyone involved.

  • Matt in OC

    I wasn’t trying to compare Splitter to Kobe, that’s just unfair, but to say that only elite players can develop new aspects to their games late in their careers is ignorant.

    Ya, it’s not going to be easy, but it’s certainly not impossible. He’s gonna have to give up a summer of international/euro ball, but for a man as smart as he is, I’m sure our coaching staff can work some voodoo, and teach him the fundamentals of American basketball. It’s all about the tools a player possesses, and right now Tiago doesn’t have many. But our coaching staff might as well be Home Depot, so the possibilities are there.

  • Diggman

    I really like of Tiago in defense this game, we need patience, he never play, we can’t require a spectacle from him, i just think if he have a chance, for example: 30 minutes starting five games followed with Ginobili and Parker would be worse than Blair or Bonner? I do not think so…He have talent, more than Scola i can say, in Europe they play together and sometimes Scola was “the man” sometimes Splitter was “the man”. How NBA would they so different?

  • Bruno

    I really like of Tiago in defense this game, we need patience, he never play, we can’t require a spectacle from him, i just think if he have a chance, for example: 30 minutes starting five games followed with Ginobili and Parker would be worse than Blair or Bonner? I do not think so…He have talent, more than Scola i can say, in Europe they play together and sometimes Scola was “the man” sometimes Splitter was “the man”. How NBA would they so different?

  • Ian

    @Hobson13: RJ never was an All-star in his career, unless you consider his rookie all-star game appearances as an all-star status (in which case Blair can be considered an all-star too lol).

  • andy

    the fact that people posting here see both see flashes from only his offensive and defensive game tells me that we haven’t seen enough to say he’s going or not going to develop into what we need.

    i dispute that he doesn’t have any discernible skills. from what i saw yesterday (watching just him for about 5 minutes), he shows good positioning on the blocks, good defensive awareness of not just the ball, but the cutter as well, and excellent offensive awareness, being able to pass to the open man. yes, he’s not the strongest big man, or the quickest, but he sure was fast enough (and aware enough) to close out on a shooter. i saw one play where the mavs were swinging the ball around the outside, and blair should’ve closed out, but gave up. no one is perfect, and i think splitter just needs time to get pop to trust him in our schemes.

    @varner

    i’m not saying you’re even hard on tiago (most posters have been far more unkind). i agreed that spending 2 mil on ian over the next 2 yrs seems like a piddling investment for someone who knows your system and still has discernible skills. after thinking about it some more though, seeing splitter struggle in his limited stints, wouldn’t that time be better spent on splitter than ian now? as someone mentioned above, would you rather spend the minutes (an underappreciated NBA commodity) on an up and coming splitter than a known quantity with limited awareness like ian?

    it’s a question worth asking, and this fan thinks the front office made a calculated decision to break with the past and move towards the future (in one more way).

  • LPspursFan

    Lololololol….Why don’t we play Splitter…oh, we played Splitter 15 minutes and he sucks; trade him…we can be pretty silly on this here blog from time to time and I get a kick out of it.
    Again, I don’t claim to be an NBA talent scout, and I’m not sure how many of you posters are armed with those credentials, but I’d say Pop and RC have probably earned the right to serve in that capacity.
    Given that, I think I am within my skill set to say that Tiago has shown me enough to think that with some steady playing time, playing with starters who look to dish the ball and play Pop’s brand of motion offense, Splitter will do just fine. The fact that our record is so good right now (could that possibly be because the players we are currently giving minutes to are doing the job) means Pop has the luxury of bringing Tiago along at whatever pace HE SEES FIT. You guys think Pop doesn’t want to win a title THIS YEAR? Of course he does, and he’s going to do whatever it is he thinks is required to do so. Splitter was not brought in specifically for this year, but his 3-year contract shows he is expected to be a significant part of this team for years to come. Besides, all it will take is an injury to any one of our bigs for Tiago to start getting regular minutes with the current rotation players. OK, I’ve ranted on the subject long enough, but suffice it to say I don’t want to see Splitter traded, I don’t think he’s a bust and I’m cool with how Pop is handling the situation. Oh, and I LOVE being 34-6 and hope we increase it to 35-6 with a win over Denver (who will be playing the second of a B2b) Sunday. Go! Spurs! Go!!!

  • rob

    @ Everyone

    I would like to thank everybody for holding a civil discussion regarding your thoughts and opinions about Tiago.

    I think this has been one of the best comprised debates I’ve seen. Great points both pro and con yet civil and educational.

    It’s why I like this site so much. Thoughtful, insightful banter without any of us being too critical of each other’s views.

    I think I can say without a doubt…we’re all passionate Spur fans and it would be an honor to sit next to any of you at a Spurs game.

    Go Spurs Go!!!

  • rob

    This is interesting.

    http://espn.go.com/nba/dailydime/_/page/dime-110114-16/howard-qa

    “The Detriot Pistons, sources say, are already fielding calls from teams interested in floor-stretching big man Troy Murphy.

    The lefty isn’t even a Piston yet, but the rumbles have already started about Murphy attracting the interest of numerous contenders (Orlando, Dallas, San Antonio and more) if he does end up in Detroit as part of a Carmelo Anthony deal.

    The Pistons, though, are telling teams that they can’t buy Murphy out of his contract to make him a free agent because of financial restrictions stemming from the pending sale of the franchise, which has also limited Detroit’s ability to consider anything other than money-shedding trades in recent months.

    So …Will a follow-up trade materialize to land the lefty with a contender and satisfy the Pistons’ budget constraints? That’s what Murphy — still waiting to taste the playoffs after a record 639 regular-season games without a trip to the postseason — is hoping.”

  • ty

    Soooo any news on james anderson??

  • TD = Best EVER

    Did anybody see Ian’s stat line last night – Dirk got kicked out of the game in the 2nd Qt for arguing a foul call…….. LOL and Ian steped in and played Very well…… 21 min / 17 points / 6 boards

    Also is appears that Tiago should see some minutes tonight – because Bonner is out with a bone bruise. So he should be aware of the situation and after getting 15 minutes last game of of no where – this game minutes shouldn’t be as much of a surprise.

  • Hobson13

    Ian
    January 15th, 2011 at 11:02 pm
    “@Hobson13: RJ never was an All-star in his career”

    You’re right, good point. I had thought RJ had an All-star appearance several years ago in NJ. However, my point still stands. You can’t compare the adjustments RJ has made to the adjustments Tiago is going through because RJ is a proven NBA player and had multiple seasons of averaging 18-20ppg. Tiago doesn’t have this NBA track record and, at this point, we don’t even know what he can bring to the table.

  • LPspursFan

    Rob,

    Agree 100% about the debate/conversation on this blog. Especially now that one Jim Henderson is no longer allowed to play. I’m one of those that generally enjoys hearing differing points of view explained in a cool, clear manner. Maybe it’s just Spurs fans in general that are more intellectual and educated than the fans of all other teams? OK, now I’m probably just getting carried away. Let’s get those Nuggets tonight!

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