San Antonio Spurs 108, Sacramento Kings 103: The bat came back, the Kings came close

by

AT&T CENTER–Tempting as it was, with the crowd screaming in anticipation of another Manu Ginobili moment, the San Antonio Spurs starting shooting guard politely opted–for once–to let the crowd down.

There would be no bat slaying tonight, at least not from Ginobili. Eight rabies shots over the course of a month and an earful from PETA is enough of a lesson for any man. Instead Ginobili had to settle for swatting away a Sacramento Kings team hovering far too close for the Spurs liking.

“I was not gonna get close to that thing. It came close a couple of times, but I said, ‘No, I’m not it,” said Ginobili. “I took eight shots last time, and I’m not going to repeat that. Somebody else. That was painful, uncomfortable.”

The only pain and discomfort for the San Antonio Spurs tonight would be in their performance itself, a sloppy affair that resulted in a 108-103 victory that had more to do with their opponent, the Sacramento Kings, than their play.

A disappointing win Manu called it, if there ever could be such a thing. The Spurs will not make any apologies, but they will not be satisfied either.

“There was a little sloppiness. We were not as aggressive as we usually are and we were just kind of waiting for things to happen,” Ginobili said. “We didn’t go get the win and take it, we just waited.

“Against some teams it’s going to happen and you’re going to get them, but I don’t think it will against any of our next three opponents. We have to get back to the way we were playing two weeks ago.”

In an 82-game season, especially approaching the finish line against a team like these Sacramento Kings, these are the kind of games that will happen. A look down the box score and everything seems familiar, which is a testament to the talent the Spurs possess, but dig through some tape and you will find that the Spurs were just, for lack of a better word, off.

Not by much mind you, as the starting backcourt of Tony Parker (27 points, six assists) and Manu Ginobili (24 points, seven assists) were highly productive. But only 19 assists measured against 14 turnovers for the Spurs in a game where there seemed to be a lot more.

More than the turnovers, the passes consistently missed their mark, landing near the feet or to the side of each Spurs player spotting up, just outside of their shot pocket, stalling whatever ball movement the Spurs may have generated while reaching for the pass.

That, and a less than focused defense, is how a team that shot nearly 50 percent from the field and just shy of 45 percent from the three-point line could find itself in a fourth quarter contest with a team like the Sacramento Kings.

After the game Popovich was livid. And as much as reporters needed to ask about the bat returning with Sacramento, no one wanted to ask it. Popovich made damn sure no one repeated it in his presence. A brief two remark statement and then off to catch a plane to Houston.

“Coaches are always concerned about execution from the beginning of the game to the end of the game,” Popovich said.

On a team like the Spurs, a victory is not good enough. Because the team will play Houston tomorrow, a team fighting for a playoff spot. And if their execution is anything like it was tonight, the Spurs will have more than PETA barking down their throats.

 

  • Jacques

    I was expecting Pop to use Tiago, Quinn, and Jeffers in this game since we have a tougher opponent to face in less than 24 hrs. But the defense was a bit slow, and some sloppy turnovers were made to prevent a blowout. I hope the starting lineup tomorrow will not to too tired (remember that there is the Heat game Monday).

    At least Richard Jefferson will be fresh.

  • betsyduncan

    At least they don’t have Battier any longer. Tony and Manu are going to have to carry us the next three games, I’m guessing. Hope they’re up to the task.

  • rj

    our defense is looking soft. bad teams scoring over 100 in our gym is a bad sign. seeing anderson in the starting line-up was cute. i expect a physical game that will shake us out of complacency. curious to see how pop manages manu and tim’s minutes tomorrow considering its a btb, but we are also in the stretch run.

  • Nima K.

    Of all the teams battling for 8th seed, Utah is probably our best match. Memphis is a dangerous team, and Houston and PHX are capable of pulling upsets.

    At this point, any of the 4 teams, are within range to make the 8th. I hope it wont be Memphis. We have problems facing Memphis.

    Especially if we play like we did tonight.

    Houston will be throwing us all they got tomorrow. They need to win and they will fight for it. Hope tomorrow, we wont be sitting here bitching about why we lost and what Pop or Blair needed to do. Let’s pull ourselves together.

  • hassan

    What a sloppy game… Spurs are getting worse lately and am worried they peaked too soon…
    I would rather they go back to pounding the ball to Timmy a lot in the coming games to him started for playoffs as that will be like adding a new dimension to our team that we have not used much this year and it will improve our defense by slowing the game some….

    Drive for 5….Go Spurs Go…

  • badger

    The Lakers and the Bulls beat us in their “statement” games. So be it. However, I’m not giving the Rockets the kind of respect I’m willing to give to the Bulls.

    So, statement game or not, Spurs can take care of business in the Toyota Center tomorrow night. But, it won’t be handed to them, and the WHOLE team is going to have to contribute when called upon. I think it’ll be a close one.

  • Hobson13

    What’s it gonna take for the Spurs to get focused again? This hasn’t been a red letter week for Spurs fans. Got blown up by the Lakers and squeeked by two teams that had a combined 14 road wins all season. The offense is fine, but what really bothers me is that both Detroit and Sacto had well above average offensive games. I would point out the Kings specific statistics like scoring, FG%, 3pt%, etc, but to some that might display my “remarkable talent for finding the grey cloud in any silver lining.”

    Anyway, we should have blown this team out so we could have rested Manu and Tim since we have a back-to-back, but hopefully we can get a W tomorrow night also.

  • Ian

    Sloppy game, but I guess it’s better to have a sloppy game against a team like SAC than against teams like Miami or Dallas. A win is a win though. Bleh.

  • CG

    Man…why do you guys get in such a tizzy over these games against scrub teams? Even as the score got close, we were never truly threatened, just like Detroit game the other night. In the scheme of an entire season, no one is going to care if we play a few sloppy, unfocused games against bottom-barrel opponents. All you should be concerned about is whether or not they show up to the playoffs ready to compete, which they will be.

    I was also wondering if anyone knew some more schematics for the 3s Parker has been taking this season. I’ve never seen him attempt and make so many shots from beyond the arc until this year. I’m not sure whether to chalk it up to dumb luck, Parker secretly putting three-ball shooting into his practice, or both.

  • DorieStreet

    How APROPOS – 48MOH forgoes a preview of the Kings matchup – and this is what we get.

  • DorieStreet

    Out Friday Nite with partner watching all the college basketball tournaments—see Spurs halftime score {46-52} – almost spoiled evening –

    All the “Spurs will be fine” Fans- go back and read last few comments on post-Pistons game post = Bruno, Titletown99030507d, betsyduncan, Hobson13—-

    This team THINKS they are the 2010-11 Lakers: ‘We are 2-time defending champs (instead of just best record this current season) …

    3rd qtr score — 71-75 —

    I will keep track of all of the ” Relax; Spurs will be fine \ “it’s only one game” responses.

    Very bad win. With this type of ‘on the court attitude’ toward the end of the season – Rockets will win tonight, and Mavs will render a beatdown.

  • DorieStreet

    Go to [ http://www.chron/sports/rockets and pull up the article by David Barron about Scola -

  • DorieStreet

    Just g0 to Houston Chronicle website -then to sports (i.e. Rockets)

  • DorieStreet

    Didn’t see game–just reviewing recaps/box score; all of the TS-#22 fans: DNP COACH’S DECISION

  • rj

    @ nima k- a series against memphis would better prepare us for future playoff bouts against contenders. a series against phx and denver could result in sweeps. this may be good for rest, but if our d doesn’t get in gear and we don’t start getting physical towards the end of the season, then we will need a 1st round tune up. i expect more DNP’s for splitter. it’s getting late in the season and we needed to tighten up the rotation tonight. he may get some 2nd qt action tonight

  • Junierizzle

    Whenever a good team plays unfocused against a bad team people say they were bored. So for now Ill say the Spurs were kinda bored. Like Manu said they were “waiting.” They knew they would beat the Kings, sloppy play and all.

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  • duaneofly

    If the Spurs don’t have what it takes to win, which is what a lot of fans on here seem to think, then I guess the Celtics are just chumps too. I mean, two losses in a row to the Clips and 76ers? Jeez, why should they even bother playing the rest of the season? Lakers and Mavs play tonight, I guess we should just crown whomever wins that matchup, since the loser obviously wont have what it takes to beat an elite team.

  • NYC

    Missed the middle parts of the game…
    Was it ever explained why Jefferson did not play?

    I originally thought Pop was back to old tricks, throwing Anderson in there to see if he would be a part of the shortened rotation, but after finding out that Jefferson was not in attendance, it seems Pop would have had no choice but to start Anderson at SF. Still seems like something Pop would do even if Jefferson were available (throw Anderson into the deep end unexpectedly just to see if he’ll sink or swim.)

    I’m surprised this article did not even mention Anderson. WHAT’S UP WITH THAT, GUYS?

    What did everyone think of his performance in extended minutes? Again, I missed large portions of the game. Seems like he knew he was going to be evaluated for the playoff rotation based on his defense and focused on that. Despite making his first shot, a 3 ball, he only put up one other shot in the game.

    Without Jefferson, we played a lot of three guard line ups, which seems to have been effective. Manu, Tony, and George all seemed to have gotten their way on offense and carried the scoring load, especially in the 4th while the game was still on the line. Any thoughts about that?

    I know last year I was unhappy with the amount of small ball we were playing, but this year we haven’t seen too much of it, and with Tony and Manu back to full health, I’m wondering if it might be advantageous to employ the three guard set more often. What do y’all think?

  • NYC

    I’m disappointed there was no Tiago, but not surprised. How bizzare was it to see Matt Bonner penetrating and kicking out in mid air, doing his best Tony Parker impression, to a waiting TP at the arc, doing his best Matt Bonner impression, proceeding to drain the 3 ball (and then again a play or two later)?

    I also noted that the Kings really made an effort to chase Matty off the arc. I wonder if we’ll see teams focus on that more come playoffs. (Not just Matty but all our 3pt shooters.) How should we deal with that? It looked like our response in this game was to add Parker behind the arc. And it worked! Is this a harbinger of things to come? Are we going to see Tony shooting a lot more 3s? In the playoffs or not until after this season?

    (As an aside, all you Parker haters from last year are on notice. You like to point out how poor a 3pt shooter he is to bolster your argument of trading him, but really you have no data to support that argument. Just as it used to be the game plan to pound the ball into Duncan in the post, it hasn’t been part of the game plan for Parker to shoot 3s. No one really knows what his aptitude is for shooting behind the arc because there has been insufficient data to draw any meaningful conclusions. We are already starting to see him do it with some success this season, just as we are seeing the game plan evolve from going through Timmy. Jason Kidd was not a good 3pt shooter until late in his career. Now it seems like that’s all he shoots. It’s possible Parker could be a latent above-average 3pt shooter. The limited data so far seem to suggest he is no worse than average.)

  • Titletown99030507d

    @Doriestreet,

    “Didn’t see game–just reviewing recaps/box score; all of the TS-#22 fans: DNP COACH’S DECISION”

    I give up Dorie. I’m just going to pretend Splitter never left Brazil. I think Pop should take his meds. It might make him think clearly or at the very least not spaz out when the reporters ask stupid questions. I thought smoke was going to come out of his ears and his eyes were going to pop (no pun intended) out. Breathe, breathe, ok Pop your go to go.

  • tradetp…not right now

    Comments on McD Vs Blair or has that point been proven yet?

  • Titletown99030507d

    @rj,

    “@ nima k- a series against memphis would better prepare us for future playoff bouts against contenders… ”

    You almost don’t want that match up but in reality your right about making us tougher after that series if we do see them. I’d hate to have the best record going in to the playoffs and play a crappy team and blow it in the first round like the Mavs did against Golden State. It’ll be better for us in the end. Besides if we can’t get past Memphis we don’t deserve a chance to go the finals period record or no record.

  • Titletown99030507d

    @tradetp…not right now

    “Comments on McD Vs Blair or has that point been proven yet?

    Uh no. Were in trouble.

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  • Titletown99030507d

    I guess Splitter’s done. Wow how tragic. That was an unfair run at Splitter this season. I guess they’re treating him like Bonner in his first year. What a waste of Splitters time Pop. Just going to hit the record button on the DVR for the playoffs and fast forward every game to see if Splitter gets his 37 seconds of trash time. maybe he’ll pull down a single single.

  • Titletown99030507d

    @NYC,

    If Anderson wouldn’t have gotten hurt he’d be sharing serious minutes with RJ. He’s going to be a beast next season and I wouldn’t doubt he takes RJ position some time during the next season. Just my thoughts.

  • Titletown99030507d

    We’ll be fine! Look at our record!

    “That was uncalled for discount”. “Whatever discount”.

  • rj

    i think splitter sees action in the playoffs if we play against l.a. . someone above 6 ft 9 other than duncan has to box out andrew bynum for a few minutes at a time. other than that? nothing but blowouts.

  • TD = Best EVER

    @ NYC

    “Without Jefferson, we played a lot of three guard line ups, which seems to have been effective. Manu, Tony, and George all seemed to have gotten their way on offense and carried the scoring load, especially in the 4th while the game was still on the line. Any thoughts about that?”

    Yes we have played a lot of 3 guard lineup lately…… Mostly because we really don’t have a back up SF….. and haven’t all year….. But to the point of what I think about it….. I would have to say I DON’T LIKE IT………If does give us a quick boost offensively…….. but really hurts us on defense as well, because then you have Manu/IndyG trying to guard a 6-7 SF or something…….

    And not to grip to much on IndyG – but when is the last time you have mentioned the name IndyG and defensive stopper in the same sentence……. what is he taking a break from D like the rest of the team…….

  • Czernobog

    I will keep track of all of the ” Relax; Spurs will be fine \ “it’s only one game” responses.

    Keep track of this: Will this level of effort and execution be enough in the playoffs? Of course not. Is this the best the Spurs are capable of? Again, of course not. What does this game mean for the Spurs chances in the postseason? Very little.

    Comments on McD Vs Blair or has that point been proven yet?

    Insignificant sample size.

  • TD = Best EVER

    @ DorieStreet, Bruno, Titletown99030507d, & Hobson13

    I find it really funny when talking to most of our posters here…. they seem to make the point that SA is simply waiting to flip a Defensive switch and be the Defense of old…….. and that because we are the Spurs then we can do this at anytime…….

    I wonder why do the same people think that LA, Dallas, Boston, OKC, Etc can’t flip the same switch……. we can but they can’t….. just too funny…… It’s as if the basketball gods have smiled upon SA and deemed us their mortal representatives on Earth…….lmao……..

  • Hobson13

    Titletown99030507d
    March 12th, 2011 at 9:21 am

    “If Anderson wouldn’t have gotten hurt he’d be sharing serious minutes with RJ. He’s going to be a beast next season and I wouldn’t doubt he takes RJ position some time during the next season. Just my thoughts.”

    I agree. He’d be getting 20 min/game if he hadn’t missed so much time. He already seems to be just as good a defender as RJ and god knows he is a much better shooter than Jefferson. In fact, I really wish JA had taken more than 2 shots last night. He has such a silky smooth stroke. He could end up being a top 5 player in the 2010 draft in a year or so.

  • Bankshot21

    @Doriestreet who exactly do you think this team is? A team looking to 3peat? No. We have a core that’s played together a long time and that’s about it. The rest haven’t been with the team long enough to expect much better play. THE TEAM WILL BE OK. The planets will not spinning if we don’t get our 5th title. No one expected us to be this competitive this fast. We are ahead of our progress as a team but many of you seem to focus on how individuals are behind in their progress. Tim In Surrey’s post in the Piston’s post game was dead on. No matter our rank in offense and defense we still have the largest desparity between the 2. This shows the teams superiority. This constant harping on being top 5 in defense is moot. It guarantees nothing. For every team that’s top 5 and won the championship there were four other teams who were also top 5 that didn’t win it.

  • Bankshot21

    RJ is shooting about 50% from the field. If some of you are suggesting Anderson can do that I would love to know why. Jefferson was dropping 20 a clip before coming to this team. He is not incapable of scoring. The system he’s in doesn’t allow it. And I HATE RJ on this team but let’s not be foolish in under appreciating his body of work. He too has been to the Finals multiple times and was a focal point of his team so let’s stop bad mouthing the guy.

  • TD = Best EVER

    @ Bankshot21

    “The planets will not spinning if we don’t get our 5th title. No one expected us to be this competitive this fast. We are ahead of our progress as a team but many of you seem to focus on how individuals are behind in their progress.”

    Now I finally get it and someone has finally confirmed it……You don’t care as much about winning number 5 as you do just cheering for us to better night in and night out……This is why so many people are against trades, they basically don’t care as much as bout winning it all this year as others…… they are looking at this season as a gift to loyal fans instead of a mad drive for five……

    Well I disagree totally….. We are ahead of our curve… really….. With your best 2 players on the brink of retiring how is that even possible…… Once TD/Manu are gone fans like these will cry to have these years back and will starve for SA to be relevant……

  • Titletown99030507d

    @Banksht21,

    Let’s not fool ourselves, JA is a much better athlete and quicker than RJ thus enabling him to get to the rim at will compared to rj’s hesitation. I expect RJ to charge the rim every time the opportunity arises. Her doesn’t. You will see this from JA next season. And yeah its a moot point right now but I’m just saying JA is in RJ’s rear view mirror because that’s the way Pop wants it but not for long. Honestly, RJ is not the same player he was when he went to the finals eons ago.

  • Hobson13

    Bankshot21
    March 12th, 2011 at 10:29 am
    ” RJ is shooting about 50% from the field. If some of you are suggesting Anderson can do that I would love to know why.”

    Yes, RJ is shooting much better than he was last season, but he simply isn’t that aggressive on the offensive end. In fact, he’s averaging fewer points than last year; the year most were calling him a bust. If you look at his month-by-month scoring numbers, they are on a steady decline for EVERY single month this season. RJ is a good player, but he either needs to be more aggressive or Pop needs to call more plays for him besides standing still in the corner. If the SF position is simply going to be a stand still, jump shooting role then Anderson is much better suited to start sometime in the future. This is the main reason Anderson has a shot at giving RJ some competition next year.

  • Nima K.

    @ rj & Titletown

    We’ll be facing OKC in the 2nd round regardless one way or the other. So preparation for finals will be on our plate anyway.

    The point I guess I’m trying to make is that I’d rather we face a weaker team like Houston or Utah instead of Memphis in round 1, then face OKC. 2 consecutive series against physical teams like Memphis and OKC has the potential to injure one of our key players, and weaken us for the WCF. surely we wanna have everyone healthy then, right. I don’t think we can escape injury from 2 series against MEM & OKC. But we might remain healthy AND prepare for WCF, if we play Utah/Houston in round 1, and OKC in round 2. We need to tightrope our fate and fortune.

    Agree with me?

  • SpursLoco

    There is something that is worrying me lately.

    Does anybody think that second line players do not play well and consistent against top teams (Chicago, Boston, LA, Miami, Etc.)?

    Is it possible to win the championship under this scenario?

  • http://www.48minutesofhell.com Len

    “Now I finally get it and someone has finally confirmed it……You don’t care as much about winning number 5 as you do just cheering for us to better night in and night out……This is why so many people are against trades, they basically don’t care as much as bout winning it all this year as others…… they are looking at this season as a gift to loyal fans instead of a mad drive for five……”

    You sir, are a meat head. You think that throwing out all the random has beens (Gadzuric, Howard, etc…) makes you a fan that cares? LOLOL All it does is confirm that you are a closet Mavs fan. You obviously think like one.

  • Jimbo

    @Nima,

    You are absolutely right about Memphis. They are a very difficult matchup, with a talented core. They will give a good battle to whatever team they draw. I hope it’s not the Spurs. I’ll gladly take Houston or Utah over Memphis.

    The playoffs are tough on any team and saying we might as well play X+1 tough teams if we have to play X tough teams is incorrect.

    If playing tough teams under tough conditions was what made for success in the playoffs, every team in a conference would try to get the 8th seed.

    Unrelated question for the board. If SA and Dallas finish 1-2 in the west, is Dallas seeded 4th because the two are in the same division? That would mean a potential second round matchup with the Mavs. I thought they tinkered with the seeding rules regarding this situation a couple years back, but I forget.

    A potential path to the title through Memphis, Dallas, LA, and maybe Boston would be absolutely brutal.

  • TD = Best EVER

    @ Len

    “You sir, are a meat head. You think that throwing out all the random has beens (Gadzuric, Howard, etc…) makes you a fan that cares? LOLOL All it does is confirm that you are a closet Mavs fan. You obviously think like one.”

    No sir you are wrong again….. As I have informed you before MAVS fans hate to trade players… ROLE players like Splitter/Anderson etc…… They love everybody on the team and think that they can win it with what they have and CHEMISTRY….. So you Sr. Are the MAVS fan aka afraid to take on the slightest of risks EVER……. You would much rather live in your happy little Pleasant-ville and dream that we are the best and will win ever year instead of trading a player/pick for someone who could increase your chances of winning……The window will only be open for a few season and MAVS fans like you and others can’t seem to get it through their heads that THIS IS OUR BEST CHANCE AT FIVE NOW……..Not next year after players have had more seasoning…….

  • http://www.48minutesofhell.com Len

    “As I have informed you before MAVS fans hate to trade players… ROLE players like Splitter/Anderson etc…… They love everybody on the team and think that they can win it with what they have and CHEMISTRY….”

    You literally are smoking crack. The Mavs have flipped key components and role players of their club often. The Mavs sign new players regularly. And I’m not talking about D League transactions. The Mavs roster changes often out of desperation.

    “As I have informed you before MAVS fans hate to trade players… ROLE players like Splitter/Anderson etc…… They love everybody on the team and think that they can win it with what they have and CHEMISTRY”

    Really?

    Really really?

    You don’t know what the fook you are talking about here.

    2002 Trade Deadline – Mavs trades Juwan Howard, Tim Hardaway and 1st round pick for Nick Van Exel, Avery Johnson and Raef LaFrentz

    2003 – Mavs trade Nick Van Exel and Avery Johnson for Antwawn Jamison, Danny Fortson and Chris Mills

    2003 – Mavs trade Raef LaFrentz, Chris Mills and a 1st round pick for Antoine Walker and Tony Delk

    2004 – Didn’t resign Steve Nash

    2005 Trade Deadline – Mavs trade Alan Henderson and Calvin Booth for Keith Van Horn

    2008 Trade Deadline- Kidd was officially traded to the Mavericks for Van Horn (via a sign and trade deal), Devin Harris, DeSagana, Diop, Trenton Hassell, $3 million and two first round picks.

    2009 – Traded Jerry Stackhouse for Greg Buckner

    2009 – Traded DeVean George and Antoine Wright for Shawn Marion and Kris Humphries

    2010 Trade Deadline- Traded Josh Howard, Quinten Ross and Drew Gooden for Caron Butler, Brendon Haywood and DeShawn Stevenson

    During Cubans reign, the Mavs roster has seen a ton of players come and go. They have signed or traded for Greg Buckner, Even Eschmeyer, Shawn Bradley, Popeye Jones, Walt Williams, Travis Best, Avery Johnson (as a player and coach), Raja Bell, Jerry Stackhouse, Erik Dampier, Doug Christie, Marquis Daniels, DeSagana Diop, DJ Mbenga, Darrell Armstrong, Devean George, Brandon Bass, Eddie Jones, Devin Harris, Tyronne Lue, Jamaal Magloire, Keith McLeod, Tim Thomas, Kris Humphries, Drew Gooden, Quinten Ross, Rashard McCants, Dee Brown, Sasha Pavlovic and Corey Brewer.

    in addition to the larger trades mentioned above.

  • http://www.48minutesofhell.com Len

    And what have all those trades gotten the Mavs?

    ZERO Titles.

  • TD = Best EVER

    The quote says mavs FANS HATE to trade…. not the organization………… And they haven’t given up anything but role players…….. With the exception of Nash – let go in free agency, and getting Kidd for Harris…… everything else has been role players like Marion coming and going…… easily replaceable…….

  • http://www.bpifanconnect.com Alix Babaie

    DorieStreet
    March 12th, 2011 at 5:27 am

    Very bad win. With this type of ‘on the court attitude’ toward the end of the season – Rockets will win tonight, and Mavs will render a beatdown.

    Thank God that you are not in the prognosticating business, you would be in trouble.