San Antonio Spurs 101, New York Knicks 92: DeJuan Blair scores, but the most promising sign was a miss

by

AT&T CENTER — DeJuan Blair had his share of the spotlight in the San Antonio Spurs 101-92 win over the New York Knicks with 18 points and 13 rebounds — although 21 points and 13 assists from Tony Parker, and 21 points, 16 rebounds eight assists and five blocks courtesy of Tim Duncan might have had a greater effect on the outcome.

And despite going 8-12 from the field, it was one of DeJuan Blair’s misses that might have been the best sign for the Spurs offense.

In the third quarter, Tony Parker ran a pick-and-roll with Tim Duncan. Parker drove into the lane and fired a pass to DeJuan Blair on the baseline. Without hesitation, Blair went up with the shot — err, about as “up” as Blair’s set-shot gets.

Blair missed the shot but it was important for two reasons. The first, Blair didn’t show the hesitation that he did early in the season. It was a quick decision from Blair followed by a smooth, fluid catch-and-release.

“I used to think about, ‘If I shoot this shot, will everybody get mad?’” Blair said after the game. “Now I just go. Say what they want.

“I shoot the shot and they tell me keep shooting.”

The other reason Blair’s ability to knock down shots is important because it adds yet another dimension to this Spurs offense. There were concerns over the summer that Blair wouldn’t be able to start alongside Tim Duncan because of his lack of range.

Spurs Head Coach Gregg Popovich started the pair in the front court together anyway because he felt the two possessed the right knowledge of spacing and timing, and each had good passing skills for big men.

While there have been ups and downs for the tandem this season, if Blair can knock down shots from the mid-range and keep defenders from doubling-down on Duncan in the post, the ups should be a more frequent occurrence.

“It’s a great option,” Manu Ginobili said. “It’s another big source of easy points.”

And for Blair, it might mean more consistent playing time. Blair averaged 20.2 minutes per game coming into Friday night’s game with the Knicks, but his time on the floor has yo-yoed depending on frontcourt matchups. In San Antonio’s first game against the Knicks earlier this month, Blair had only 17 minutes. On Friday he played over 41.

  • Jacob

    First?

    Cool….

    Go spurs go

  • junierizzle

    Great win. With the rodeo trip around the corner it will be interesting to see if the SPurs can keep it up. I think they can. They stunk it up last season on the trip. This season they are correcting all the mistakes they made last year.

    My only concern is that they let up because of the ALL-STAR break coming up. It’s normal and every team does it.

  • idahospur

    Last year this team was limited because it seemed Duncan could only be on the court with Bonner. Now being able to complement with Blair has helped a lot, and Blair is having a great year.

  • Bruno

    Good game but horrible 18 minutes of Macdyess, Ginobili very bad of 3s last games..Only 5 blks and 2 assist to TD Quad-double i was twisting to overtime for this

  • Mike

    Solid win tonight, though poor turnovers and crappy long range shooting kept this game closer then it should have been. It is good to see a >40% shooting and 90 point game out of the Knicks rather then the last games shootout.

    Also, noticed Hill was out but couldn’t find any info on a quick search, can anyone pass on the reason? TIA

  • Mike

    Whoops <40%, less than, not greater.

  • mybloodissilverandblack

    Magnificent defense by Blair (and Duncan) on Stoudemire. DeJuan was all over the court, very active on both ends. Just a really great job.

    Great job by Timmy on turning back the clock, as he put his Playoff game face on, a.k.a. the shaved head, and poured in 2003-esque stats. He NEVER gets old, I tell you.

    Oh, and the Spurs are really starting to miss Bonner out there. For some reason, they’re turning the ball over more often without the Red Rocket.

  • mybloodissilverandblack

    @Mike: Finger injury just before the game kept George Hill out. One of the reasons why Raymond Felton had a field day against what passed as a Spurs perimeter defense.

  • Rafael

    Without Bonner is good to develop Blair, he had very good games and i like more Blair than Red Rocket. A question is why Pop don’t put Splitter in the game???Macdyess was so bad. Very good game to TP and TD

  • rj

    renaissance timmy. so we are only rotating 3 bigs with bonner out. pop must really have no trust in splitter nor sees any importance in developing him. road trippin’!

  • Hobson13

    Long post coming…

    My takeaways from this game.

    1. I thought we took the Knicks best shot tonight since they appeard to play desperate basketball. (I say desperate because they actually looked good on the defensive end for a considerable portion of the game.) You know people are paying attention to you when you consistently take team’s best shot. I would also attribute this factor as to why we haven’t been blowing out teams lately.

    2. This had to be Blair’s best game so far this year with 18pts, 13rebs, 4stls, and 3 blocks. He played for a career high of 42 minutes and was a revelation on defense. This version of Dejuan Blair makes the Spurs even more scary.

    3. I thought we would beat the Knicks, but I’m worried about tomorrow nights game against the red hot Hornets. With Hill AND Bonner out, our depth is greatly compromised. Hill’s “injury” doesn’t appear to be bad so maybe he will play tomorrow night.

    4. Am I the only one who is getting a bit concerned about Manu? He’s been playing a career high in minutes and has shot the ball horribly over the past 4 games. For January, he is shooting under 40% from the field and under 30% from distance. We need Anderson back ASAP to spell Manu for just a few minutes per night.

    5. After watching the Lakers game tonight, I can tell you that we will need more inside muscle against Gasol and Bynum than what we currently have. Those two absolutely blew the Nuggets front line up. That game reminded me of the NBA Finals when they just pounded the ball into the lane, got offensive rebounds at a insane rate, and scored in the paint at will.

    6. Continuing from point #5 is the fact that Splitter is still getting absolutely no time even with Bonner out. Is he going to develop at all this year or is his greatest contribution warming the bench? We’re over halfway through the season and he’s been consistently MIA. If he can’t cut it, then he needs to be traded for a big who can. We can’t waste an unbelievable year simply because a 26 year old rookie can’t figure out his job.

  • SpurredOn

    Important to close out the short home-stand with victory before a very long road stretch. Even better that all the home games were victories.

    I’d be interested in any analysis that compares the Spurs’ defense on this night vs the game at MSG. What did the Spurs do differently or better? How much did pace influence the game? To think that the Knicks shot only 38% and struggled to reach 90 points even with the help of Spurs turnovers giving them more possessions and some mismatches. Quite the contrast from two weeks ago.

  • TD = Best EVER

    @ Hobson13 & Rafael

    To your points about Splitter……

    We had to play TD 35 min tonight on the front end of a back-to-back…. with NO coming up on the road tomorrow night…… This can only mean one thing… Splitter is a complete head case right now……… Blair got more minutes than this last year…….hate to say it but at age 26, its not looking good for the TD/Tiago front line…..

  • andy

    @Hobson13

    4. count me in on that. i’ve had my eye on manu, and he’s definitely in a slump. if he doesn’t have an injury, then i’m sure he’ll break out of it in time for hte playoffs. if he is injured however, and he’s not telling anyone, that’s gonna hold us back over the long run and in the playoffs if he doesn’t heal up. i agree that anderson should help with whatever the situation is.

    6. honestly, l.a.’s backcourt does worry me, but i still say that the way tony is playing, the lakers will have a devil of a time with us as well. i don’t know if splitter will necessarily make that much of a difference against bynum and gasol this year, even if he was getting time. maybe with blair’s girth and center of gravity (265 to 285lbs, maybe it’s a reach haha), he can keep bynum out of the paint and make him shoot enough to make a difference. either way, splitter obviously isn’t rock solid on our system yet, and i think pop would rather play shorter rotations and lesser talents in real gametime than develop splitter. we’ll see if it’s a crucial thing or not.

  • Hicksman

    Another good home win by our SPURS nice way to close the home stand. With the Rodeo approaching does anyone know if both/either of Anderson / Hill will be travelling with the team? As when these gys return Manu’s minutes will drop as it seems that with both Anderson and Hill out no-one can spell Manu effectively more minutes=low percentage. What a game by Blair – a spinning layup,Mid Range jump shooting we know about the rebounding/positional D then throw a couple of blocks in!
    So then does this make TD a LOCK for the Allstar game then?? How can there be ANY debate about it.
    Enough ranting
    GO SPURS GO!!!

  • Mr.Robinson

    Good win last night putting the overrated Knicks in their place. Duncan looked like he hopped in a Delorean fired up his flux capicitor last night and went back about 8 years. You old sandbagger you. Blair stepped up with injuries to Bonner and Hill.

    Where has RJ been lately? He started off so good but has done a disappearing act lately offensively. It looks like teams are playing him tighter on the three.
    Manu is shooting too off balance on his shots. What I mean by that is he is usually off balance when he shoots but lately he looks like he is just jacking up some shots. Manu is so much better when he is driving to the basket and then looking for his outside shot. Maybe he does have some injury or he doesn’t have his legs from playing so many minutes or he is saving his body. Whatever it is he needs to be more selective on his shots.

    If the Spurs are to have success on this rodeo trip Manu and or RJ need to step up with the recent injuries because you can forget about Splitter.
    Splitter has looked lost on both ends and seems to lack confidence. He looks extremely confused offensively and has really shown no low post moves. He is probably a year away from being a contributor with this team if ever. He should get some playing time tonight on the back to back or maybe not.

    We might see small ball tonight with RJ at the 4. I am not questioning Pop he knows way more than I do but maybe it is time to find another big who can contribute right away or at least give someone a look with another 10 day contract. If we don’t see Splitter tonight after Duncan, and Blair logged some heavy minutes last night than what is the point of Tiago? Maybe Pop sees something in him that I don’t. Option 2 package Splitter with a pick and try to get a more seasoned big. The time is now not next year. Of course who do you trade for the options are pretty limited without giving up Hill or Anderson and there is no way I would trade Hill.

    This is all way to complicated and I am glad I am not responsible for these decisions. We are all lucky that we just have to watch the games. I would never sleep at night if I was Pop or RC.

    Hill looks like he is going to miss some games (not good) from what Pop said. Get well soon Neo/Mr. Anderson. I miss you and so will the team the next couple of games.

    Lets Go Spurs.

  • miggy

    Tiago Splitter is an ace in the hole. Pop doesn’t want to show his hand. No need to go all in when everyone else is folding. He’s not going anywhere. Blair’s psyche is much more fragile than Tiago’s. Blair needs all the time on the floor that he can get and I hope that it’s starting to pay off.

  • r.l.manuel

    man o man , here we go with the criticisms
    cmon people its just the Knicks
    a lesser form of the Phoenix team weve been spanking for the better part of the last decade
    the spurs are on a whole different level
    all the media and such want to give the Heat,Celtics,Orlando,Lakers the title already
    ok fine the SPURS will quietly go about their business and come june will be serving up a big Texas size plate of whoop-ass on those “elite” teams ending with title #5
    GO SPURS GO
    GO SPURS GO
    GO SPURS GO

  • r.l.manuel

    this team ,AS IT IS…
    is as close to perfect as we ever been
    PLEASE DO NOT MESS WITH IT
    all us true lifelong fans should know this
    ALSO
    Pop knows how to get the best from them
    sometimes whats best is playing/not playing players even for long stretches.
    im just saying

    •GO SPURS GO
    GO SPURS GO
    GO SPURS GO

  • tradetp…not right now

    Should I be the next coach?

    Last year I said we needed to start Blair, Manu was the driver of our bus, we didnt need to throw everything through Tim, and uptempo was the way we should play.

    check, check, check, check, best start ever.

    Kudos to Pop for finally reading something on this board. I think it is evident now, when getting bashed for my “score-not-defend” theme with our roster. I really think that Mason would have been a benefactor in this type of game.

    It is so FUN to watch the Spurs this year. Not only because of the record, but just the style we are playing.

    Kudos to Tony for getting caught cheating and working on that jump-shot. But this goes right back to letting him push the ball. Career numbers when allowed to run… surprised?

    Kudos to the FO for taking a chance on Gary Neal. Although he wasnt the “unknown” that the uneducated media likes to play up, it sure is REFRESHING to watch someone with a questionable past succeed in their career rather than people holding it against them for the rest of their lives.

    Jefferson’s oop last night… good for him.

    Only gripe of the season: same as last year

    GET MCDOOSH OUT OF THE GAME. 17 minutes is TOOOOOOOO many. Play him 10 and Tiago 17. THE ONLY WAY TO DEVELOP TALENT IS TO PLAY IN GAMES.

    Great start keep up the momentum
    GO SPURS GO

  • Lucian

    I have to agree with miggy on Tiago’s case. I belive coach Pop is holding him back like a wild card. He dosen’t want to showcase his real talent just yet. I use to watch him on the Spanish league and this guy can play like no other.
    Also there is no need to worry on Manu’s part, he never held on a injury without telling, hes not going to do it now.
    I hope we can get Bonner back soon, we have been missing the Red Rocket’s 3′s lately.
    GO SPURS !!!

  • megaspy2000

    @ r.l.manuel

    “uh, yeah, but the lakers etc. are more perfect than the most perfect spurs team.”/sarcasm

    lol. this team is really great. all we have to do is execute our game and the win is assured. i really can’t wrap my head around arguments for trades. this is a championship caliber team who can clamp down on defense and score the ball in a huge way, from every position, from every player. who’s in our way of that has no bearing on the issue!

    and about tiago specifically, can anyone tell me they don’t see him just utterly denying shots under the rim much like TD did for 2 or 3 in a row last night?

    dejuan blair was a straight beast last night. he was having so much fun out there, i was grinning ear to ear watching him. even if not so many of his shots go down, him playing with that sort of intensity opens up a whole bag of scoring opportunities we’ve only seen glances of every now and then. and duncan being on the floor really compounds it. that pass under the basket was so sweet.

    really looking forward to tonight’s game. even though it’s a back to back i expect we’ll see the same level of play that was on display against the knicks. just a hunch though.

  • knecht

    did You noticed the Owen´s solid game in just six minutes

  • Bankshot21

    If you watched Duncan’s interview last night you will see he was far from shocked at his line. He’s aware he can still feast as a 20-10 guy but is being asked to scale it back. There are only a few quadruple double threats still in the game and TD is certainly one of the few capable of the harder than a perfect game in mlb accomplishment. Manu is fine. Off balanced is his game. He’s actually been playing better as of late. The jumpers aren’t falling but he’s getting to the line.

    I’m certainly glad to be playing a hot team tonight. This will be a better gauge for my feelings on Blair. David West torched him this season, so let’s see how he responds with his recent surge in play.

  • Pingback: Tweets that mention DeJuan Blair's double-double helps Spurs beat Knicks 101-92 -- Topsy.com

  • mybloodissilverandblack

    I agree with some of you. If Pop will just take Tiago for granted, he might as well get something out of it. Like Alexis Ajinca or some other 7-foot defender.

    To hell with “being professional.” They guy’s being paid to play, not to be “professional” while getting ZERO playing time. Almost breaks my heart seeing someone with such potential shackled at courtside.

    FREE TIAGO!

  • td4life

    I have been worried about overexerting Manu for quite some time… and lately his performance seems to be suffering, perhaps as a result. He is the MVP of this team, the quarterback and team leader… we cannot afford an injury to him, as evidenced by how heavily Pop relies on him every night.

    As for Taigo being saved as a secret weapon, that’s utter nonsense. That would be a marginal gain in a series against the same opponent… in the NBA, what is needed is experience and system IQ. He is not even getting significant minutes against inferior competition, competition against which he is a superior talent. Considering how much we have allowed Blair to be tutored along, Splitter could have had the same opportunity, especially with Matty out… and now we hear McD may stick around and finish his contract, so developing Splitter next year is also a bit of a question. As for this season, whatever we get out of Tiago is gravy… he hasn’t been given the chance to be a difference-maker for this group, I doubt that will change, but the window isn’t totally shut just yet, even if the writing is on the wall.
    ______________

    Tonight against NOH is a big game. Being a b2b, I would be surprised to get a second big game out of Timmy. And w/o George, it hurts our chances. I would like to see a big game from RJ, and I am sure Tony will bring it. But the streak has to end some time, so a win tonight would definitely be impressive and make a statement.

  • JustinFL

    We’re just gonna have to be patient with the Splitter situation. Look how long it’s taken just to begin to see Blair’s game come togther as a Spur. Granted there is an age difference, and this will take some more trust on our part in Pop and company. I for one am willing to give them the benefit of the doubt.
    We all know Tiago is used to shorter seasons, maybe Pop is going to play him more when we have a comfortable lead in the conference. Who knows, we’ll just have to wait and see.
    We’ve had such an awesome season so far, I’m glad this is our biggest gripe.
    So think about this, we could have home court advantage throughout the playoffs, and on any night we have quite a list of guys who can go off between the big 3, RJ, now and hopefully consistently DB, GHill, and others. Our team chemistry and defense seems to be getting better each game as well.
    The Lakers look like they’ll be gassed by the time they play us in the WC Finals. Despite what the media tells you, they’re not much younger than us, and playing three straight years into June takes it’s toll. They do have an edge in the front court, but no answer for Tony, so it will be exciting to say the least.

  • Bruno

    I don’t know how the guy is first option in Brazilian team, first than Nene and Varejao but in San Antonio is the 5th option…Is hard to believe we will lost other good player like Scola, Barbosa, Dragic, Turkoglu

  • Bruno

    I don’t know how the guy is first option in Brazilian team, first than Nene and Varejao but in San Antonio is the 5th option…Is hard to believe we will lose other good player like Scola, Barbosa, Dragic, Turkoglu #

  • betsyduncan

    I’ve got to believe that Tiago is going to be heavily ‘tutored’ in the gym during the All Star break. And then the second half of the season? Watch out. Just my opinion.

  • Rondo’s Cousin, Melvin

    After watching last night’s game, I must say Blair has the sickest set of big man hands I’ve seen in a long time. The combination of his super-long arms and super glue mitts makes him freakish when he snags rebounds and bullet passes he has no business holding onto. Combine that with his quickness in passing lanes and defending dribbling post players, and his hand skills are even more impressive. Everyone talks about how soft Tim’s hands are. They are nothing compared to Blair’s sticky tentacles.

  • Bentley

    JustinFL

    “Despite what the media tells you, they’re not much younger than us, and playing three straight years into June takes it’s toll”

    Actually the Lakers are an older team than we are, and the second oldest in the league behind Miami

    http://hoopism.com/?p=746

    I was at the game last night, and although we played well in spurts, last night was a pretty sloppy game. If it wasn’t for poor rebounding at times and turnovers, we win this game by 15+ points. At the same time, we don’t even win this game without Dejuan Blair. He played incredible defense against Stoudemire and had amazing finishes at the basket. He really energized the AT&T crowd last night with his plays

  • Ruel

    Great Win San Antonio Spurs!!! Good to see Dejuan Blair finding his game back which what we needs a good productions in Power Forward area. Keep it coming Dejuan Blair and his Defense was much improved as well from last night. I’m guessing Tiago Splitter will get call his number tonight against New Orleans? I hope I’m wrong but if he does? It will be for good Defense purposes. Anyway, still a long season ahead? Develevoping Dejuan Blair and Tiago Splitter one at the time was a good benefit on our Team besides at this time we needs Dejuan Blair offense to develop more. That’s why I guess he’s granted more actions on the floor than Tiago which was good to see so Dejuan Blair and Tim Duncan can carry the load on the Power Forward Position/Spots which our team needs when the playoffs come when the real games what matters most? Where most of the games/plays comes on a half court set and all great teams will adjust to that pace. About Tiago Splitter case, since the first day he signed and join the Team? He was brought here for one purpose? DEFENSE!!! He understood it and I think he’s doing a good job whenever his number was called for limited minutes of actions. Our coaching staffs understand and knows that Tiago Splitter has a raw ability of playing Defense? It’s a showcase for a good used for the times come. The way the Team playing right now? We don’t needs him to be the Tiago Splitter who was the Spanish League MVP right now chances it will mess around what are the Team’s trying to build and stablish. There’s a ladder of steps to get there and hopefully Tiago Splitter understand it because once he get there? It’s good for the Team!!! Inserting him along the way was a good way besides it’s not end of the World? He can still develop and have plenty of playing time off the court? He can do during practice time in the gym with the team along sides with his coaching staffs and teammates who are willing to teach him in so many ways.

    Win or Lose Keep Pounding the Rock San Antonio and let’s beat and give the New Orleans Hornets tonight 48 minutes of Hell Team Defense!!!

  • Ruel

    I wonder how was G.I. Hill status tonight? Hopefully, he can play tonight and Private James Anderson as well even for limited minutes or a quick 3? Get well soon Matt and the Team needs you!!!

  • Dr. Who

    Great win last night and Blair had way more positives than mistakes last night. If Tiago doesnt see extended minutes tonight, in a btb after Duncan played heavy minutes and no Bonner… Then we can chalk it up to Pop having zero confidence in his game and he’ll rot on our bench till next year. Pity… MVP of the second best league in the world and his game/confidence still seems a bit lost.

    There is no saving him as a secret weapon for the playoffs. This is the NBA not a CYO league. You field your best players. Pop has said that seeding hurt us last year, thus he had an emphasis on the regular season record. We really really need to get Anderson back and give Manu at least 5 minutes of rest. He’s the heart and soul of the Spurs. We need him fresh come playoff time. Will be interesting to see if Blair’s game has turned a corner or not. His games have consisted of just as many mistakes as positives, but lately his active hands have resulted in a lot more positives. Great to see the heart and fire on the court as well.

    P.S. Calling McDyess “McDoosh” isn’t and has never been funny. He’s been an integral part of the spurs; and will be huge in the playoffs (as he was against Dirk last year). Anyone with an ounce of basketball IQ sees that. If u want to limit his minutes for the playoffs, no argument here. But, if u dont think much of his game and call him McDoosh it’s more a negative reflection on you than on McDyess.

  • Ruel

    @Dr. Who

    Agree, Antonio McDyess is one of our legitimate Center and Post-Up Defender when the playoffs time come when the real games matter most and I think he will be ready and professional enough as a player to handle the job well…

  • RG8907

    great win last night! i never thought we’d be 37-6 right now, but i love it!

    as for Splitter, i’m not too worried about him, and i do trust in Pop in what he’s doing. let’s not forget here that Splitter did miss training camp, due to his injury, and believe it or not, training camp does help you get developed into the Spurs system a little better. with that taken into consideration, so far, in the games i’ve seen him play, he’s done ok. i think Splitter will be fine, and he’ll get his time, whether it’s now or the next season. i could care less if half the season’s already gone, we still need to have patience.

    Dr. Who
    January 22nd, 2011 at 3:00 pm

    “Calling McDyess “McDoosh” isn’t and has never been funny. He’s been an integral part of the spurs; and will be huge in the playoffs (as he was against Dirk last year). Anyone with an ounce of basketball IQ sees that. If u want to limit his minutes for the playoffs, no argument here. But, if u dont think much of his game and call him McDoosh it’s more a negative reflection on you than on McDyess.”

    i agree with this comment, 100%.

  • Nima K.

    I don’t buy that “secret weapon” theory some folks are advocating here for Tiago’s lack of PT. It’s just so high-school.

    Tiago’s MIA can only have two possible meanings. 1) he’s not ready yet (physically, mental confidence, knowing the system, etc). Too bad, he shouldve taken summer training seriously. 2) he doesn’t fit Pop’s system of play. He might do well in another team’s system of play.

    Either way, it means we won’t get any special help from Tiago in the playoffs. That is, if things keep going the way they are now. Or to be more specific, unless we get a major new injury like Anderson, or Tiago somehow sees an appirition or something one morning and realizes what to do. Otherwise, we’re looking at a future trade, or a role next season, not this one.

  • desispur

    Re: Splitter- I trust Pop has a plan. Also, how many other players have been called “tough” by Pop?
    I agree with RG 8907. McDyess continues to be a very good post defender and can still pop his jumper when he is open on a pick-and-roll.

  • TradeTp…afternextring

    MCDoooosh is not an integral part of anything. Thinking so is what got us bounced. He was/is a bad signing. We played him last year over a BETTER PLAYER (Blair), we are playing him this year over a better player; Splitter.

    McDoosh is not a good fit for the team. PERIOD. He doesnt lock down anyone and you say he was INTEGRAL? For what a first round exit. Great hypothesis.

    You dont play a 40 year old who averages 4/5 over a 20 year old who can DO THE SAME THING. Integral… Jesus

  • Pingback: The San Antonio Spurs in the Trade Machine

  • Pingback: Spurs Nation » Is Pop or Phil Jackson the NBA’s coach of the decade?