San Antonio Spurs 101, New York Knicks 92: DeJuan Blair scores, but the most promising sign was a miss
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, â€˜If I shoot this shot, will everybody get mad?â€™” 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 frequentÂ occurrence.
“Itâ€™s a great option,” Manu Ginobili said. “Itâ€™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.