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