San Antonio Spurs 106, New Jersey Nets 96: Two is better than one, even when that one is Deron Williams

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AT&T CENTER–Asked before the game whether the coaching staff had players prepare by watching film of the Utah Jazz or the New Jersey Nets, San Antonio Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich responded with “neither”.

No position in the NBA is more transformative than the point guard position, and the New Jersey Nets got one of the premiere ones in Deron Williams. With even the best scouting reports somewhat obsolete, better to just focus on what you best.

For the San Antonio Spurs this season that’s been steadily moving ahead, chipping away at teams in wave after wave rather than any specific explosive run, eventually gaining separation when the opposing team hits a lull.

“Every game’s not pretty and in a 48 minute game you just keep on pushing and hope that you can break it at some point,” Popovich said. “Our guys did a good job of continuing to just pay and work it out and they did.”

Before the game New Jersey Nets coach Avery Johnson was in a noticeably chipper mood (“He looked a lot happier than when I last spoke to him in New Jersey,” Mike Monroe of the Express-News remarked). Nabbing Deron Williams from the Utah Jazz was a steal for the Nets, and one less obstacle for the Spurs.

And for a half the Nets were able to keep pace with the Spurs, mostly thanks to the playmaking abilities of Williams. Anthony Morrow (7-11, 25 points) might be the best shooter in the NBA, and with Williams freeing him for open looks, it’s hard to imagine him missing too many from this point forward.

Williams is still just one man though, and Tony Parker is, as he tends to remind when matched up with elite point guards, a rather elite point guard himself. Maybe not quite on par with Williams’ 14-point, 12-assist performance, but not too far off with 13 points and 10 assists of his own (seven rebounds too).

“When he’s that sharp and that precise finding teammates, we are really good,” Spurs guard Manu Ginobili said of Parker. “He was the main reason we had that stretch and then we made some stops and that always helps.”

The Spurs, as it turns out, are also really good when Ginobili is getting to the rim and scoring 20+ points (though, according to their record over the course of this recent slump from Manu, the Spurs are still pretty good even when he’s not).

Ginobili has been mired in a shooting slump for sometime, which has caused some to notice that the whirlwind Argentinean may have lost a half a step. Generally his passing and intangibles make him the one superstar capable of still controlling a game without the efficient scoring, but it has still been a worry.

Tonight, however, was encouraging. Still no sign of his three-point shot, but 26  points on 50 percent shooting from the field and 10 free throw attempts? Those are the signs that Manu Ginobili is feeling good that particular night.

For the Spurs system, the important thing is that he remain enough of a threat to draw that second defender, freeing DeJuan Blair and Tim Duncan for the roll and easy buckets (the starting big men are becoming increasingly in sync, each dropping 17 points and six rebounds on 8-11 shooting).

From the Nets the Spurs will move on to play another new-look team Sunday, albeit with Shane Battier making slightly less noise for the Memphis Grizzlies than the Deron William acquisition.

  • Casey

    How did James Anderson look? Didn’t get to watch the game.

  • Hobson13

    First of all, you guys at 48MOH do a hell of a job getting these game recaps out. Secondly, this just wasn’t that good of a game from the Spurs. It seemed like they really played down to the competition tonight. On the other hand, the Lakers had trouble with the Clips (at least for a half), Cleveland beat NY, and the one road win Wizards dropped 113pts on Miami. I suppose that the Spurs can’t really get up to beat teams by 20+ pts every night.

    The defense still needs to get better, but Manu, Tim, Blair, and Hill played pretty well on the offensive end. I’m interested to see how well we play against the Grizz this Sunday. It’s very possible we may see them in the first round. They are a good, young team but they tend to struggle on the road. Should be an interesting game.

  • Bruno

    Is good to see Ginobili playing well!! 26-0 after all-star game, YES WE CAN!!

  • grego

    @Casey – he was rusty. His defense was decent (better than his last short stint).

    He had a nice and-one drive to the basket. His shot looked off, but he hit his last one that should help him feel confident about shooting it going forward.

    He hesitated a lot though. I’m sure Pop will talk to him about that.

  • grego

    Per MySA –
    http://blog.mysanantonio.com/spursnation/2011/02/25/anderson-felt-great-in-extended-action/

    Pop on Anderson’s game:

    Spurs coach Gregg Popovich wasn’t convinced Anderson was ready for a long stint Friday, but said before the game that he had little choice but to give him a shot. Afterwards, he praised his defensive work.

    “He did a good job on defense and got up and down the court,” Popovich said. “He got tired, but he took his shots, which was great. He did a good job.”

  • trade tp in a year

    Something I wanted to comment on a couple posts ago but didnt have time.

    Manu. Some people on here are complaining about his shot taking and selection. Let me inform those who dont really understand. It seems as if we have a few of those here for keeps, and and extra few who have come out of the woodwork since we are winning big now.

    The offensive scheme, which I SAID would have to be changed this year is and was, GREAT WORK POP. The idea is to get to the rim and not try to lean on Tim every posession in the block. Manu HAS to attack and shoot. It is what makes him the player that he is. EVEN HIS MISSED SHOTS result in some sort of offense. It doesnt matter that he takes the most shots and sometimes wildly throws them up. THE CONCEPT REMAINS TO BE AGGRESSIVE.

    I know that some of you have no clue about what is going on because you have been caught in the stall ball game of Gregg for 100 years but this change in tempo and these wild shots have gotten us the best start in FRANCHISE HISTORY.

    Manu is the do all of the team. Similarly Blair is not far behind. You need energy players like these two, and unfortunately a lot of people on here do not understand that. You take stats without using the eye test. But that is understandable for I KNOW a majority of posters on here have not played competitively before.

    Manu doesnt need to stop shooting, or even come off the bench. We HAVE THE BEST RECORD EVER. Why tinker with the roster? Even I, who understand how worthless McDoosh and Boner are, am letting the comments slide until we start losing multiples in a row. There’s not much that should be changed right now. No need to nit-pick on an obvious trip to the Finals this year.

    Best Spurs team I have watched in the last 20 years. MOST FUN team I have watched in the last 20 years. Best COACHING I have seen from POP EVER. And only 2 players I hate on this years team.

    Thanks for the great effort so far.

    GO SPURS GO

  • junierizzle

    I think MANU will be fine. Hopefully this game will get him going. It’s a slump, no big deal.

    Lets worry if he is struggling at the end of the season.

  • bigmanufan

    Timmy better be warmin up nowadays, get ready for the playoffs…

    Manu and Tony just has to do what they does best.

  • rob

    For not playing significant minutes for almost 4 months I’d say Anderson did a good job. He’ll get better at offense just through repitition and if he played good defense in this game, considering the circumstances, I would imagine he’ll be on course to becoming a really good defender with more time on the court. That’ll be great news come playoffs if that be the case.

    It will be interesting to see (though probably very limited action) how the Spurs would do after Anderson gets more acclimated with him and Neal playing at the same time. Hill, Neal and Anderson could turn out to be a very formidable combination during certain moments in a game.

  • SAJKinBigD

    Glad Neo got some burn! He needs it! Can’t wait for him to get acclimated, either. I agree that Hill, Neal and Neo will be money once Neo’s all the way back.

    I think this recap and the offense can best be summed up as: Keep Pounding the Rock. Like waves on a beach, wearing away the rocks into sand.

  • Bankshot21

    We were on course to blowing this one open, but like any elite player, Deron Williams refused to let this one be a laugher. I don’t think we played down to them whatsoever. As the article reads, there was no film session to get ready for this team. Toss their record out of the window because they became a brand new team with the trade. Maybe we held them below what they’re going to average throughout the rest of the season. Maybe they will be less efficient now that other teams DO have film to prepare for them. TD was awesome. Was hitting the bankshot, was dunking with aggression. And that Blair…..whoa. Aside from his short jumper and ugly tear drop he was a joy to watch. His cuts to the basket seem almost perfect. His nimbleness along the baseline and in the air is almost artistic. We are a good 10 deep on any given night. Anderson looked rusty. Seemed hesitant to dribble. Injury was definitely a step back based on what we saw from him before the injury but he’s still solid on defense. When he puts it on the floor you can see that he can get his own offense if the need was there. He went 1-4 from deep but they were all within the flow of the game. Not Manuish jack ups.

  • Bankshot21

    Hate to be a pain…but to the editors/publishers of this blog…How come Blair and Neal’s awesome performances in the Rookie-Sophmore game went unnoticed? The guys on TNT even joked that they just name it the DeJuan Blair game with the numbers he has put up in his 2 games. I know it wasn’t a Spurs game but many of our fellow Black and Silver fans may have missed what were AWESOME performances by Gary Neal and DeJuan Blair. Keep up the good work guys. Its a joy to be apart of this blog community. Was just a bit curious about the omission.

  • GFoyle

    Great to see Manu’s improved stat line, but I still think he’s forcing things a bit – needs to let the game come to him.

  • rj

    good to see anderson have a good defensive performance. we are always in use of better perimeter defense and that is his best way of getting on the floor. if somehow tiago and anderson can contribute, this team will reach a new height and become the juggernaut we really are

  • ThatBigGuy

    I saw on the ESPN ticker that Peter Holt claimed that the Spurs were contacted by several teams regarding trades, but Holt turned them all down, saying he thought the Spur’s chemistry is amazing and needed to be kept intact for the playoff run.

    I would agree.

  • Steez

    Blair and Neal had good games in what might have been one of the most pathetic games I’ve ever seen. The Rookie-Soph game is a joke. It needs to be done away with. Nobody actually cared about what happened in that game. But Blair’s ‘oop to himself was pretty awesome.

  • TD = Best EVER

    @ ThatBigGuy

    I would love to know who or what deals were offered.

  • mjs2377

    don’t we have a open spot on the roster. Any chance for troy murphy.

  • TD = Best EVER

    The latest report says that Golden State may keep him for the season. And if not that Boston, LA, Orlando, and Dallas I think have all shown interest. So that’s looking unlikely.

  • Jacob

    Bwahahahhhahh! I get a kick out of teams like Dallas and boston! Is it just me or does it seem like every time there is a decent player up for grabs, these two teams are there like it’s a Chinese fire drill, trying to buy every one up. Dallas has 8 freaking all stars for goodness sake! 8!!!! How many players do you need to buy/trade for before you feel better?!? And it’s reported that both dallas and Boston were going after Rip up in Detroit…. Unbelievable. Never before this years heat team, did I loathe a team as much as I did the 04 lakers who tried to buy their ring with malone and payton, but Dallas, congratulations! You’re now the equivalent of the kids who would form schoolyard alliances in elementary school, and gang all of the decent players up on one team to feel accomplished when they won. There’s only one problem, you don’t win. Ouch….

  • rob

    By the way, way to go Spurs starting off the first game after All Star Weekend with a win.

  • TD = Best EVER

    @ Jacob

    + 10

    and + 10 more for making us laugh. That is crazy how Dallas/Boston wants every player that’s on the market.

  • Ryan

    @td=be and jacob

    And that’s one more reason why we shouldn’t be so hasty to blow salary or make silly trades for these guys in order to feel like we need to “keep up” with Dallas and Boston. Pick up who we can with what we have at a modest price. If Boston or Dallas is gonna sell their souls to get a 3rd string player then let them…

    Critics, analysts, and whoever else can say whatever they want to about this team. In the end, all that matters is that they win. Vin Diesel said it best, “It doesn’t matter if you win by an inch or a mile.. winning is winning.” Same holds true in basketball. The only thing this team needs to focus on is getting better each and every game so come playoff time, regardless who we play, we can leave it all out on the court.

    (Sorry about the stupid movie reference.. yes, it was terrible, I know.. but it was the first thing that popped in my mind.)