San Antonio Spurs 109, Charlotte Bobcats 98: Tim Duncan thinks your music is too loud

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On a good night, the back and forth verbal sparring between Gregg Popovich and Tim Duncan has been one of the highlights of this gig. Popovich might joke that Duncan is too hard to coach, while Duncan might point out that Pop complains too much.

Popovich usually gets the last laugh.

Coming off a stellar performance against the Dallas Mavericks the previous night, Tim Duncan was given the night off to treat an injury. The official report from the San Antonio Spurs: Duncan was inactive with “trop vieux”.

It’s a degenerative and chronic condition with no known treatment. It’s also a career-ending affliction, eventually.You see, “trop vieux” is french for too old. Until the playoffs begin, consider Duncan day-to-day.

Popovich is brilliant. Anytime you can take a goodhearted cheap shot at your franchise player, you have to do it. And anytime you need to manufacture energy against a team like the Charlotte Bobcats, sitting said star player and giving those minutes to the little used guys at the end of the bench is a great way to do it.

Against the Bobcats, with no Stephen Jackson, Tiago Splitter got his first NBA start and Steve Novak probably scored the most points he’s had in March since leaving college in a 109-98 victory.

The story of the game might not be Tiago Splitter, but he’s certainly the one that people have been clamoring for. The reviews? Pretty much everything we have seen in smaller sample sizes.

Tiago Splitter is not a star at this level, he’s a blue collar guy. He kept his hands up and moved his feet on defense while holding his own against former no. 1 overall pick Kwame Brown (no small feat, I know). On offense he set good enough screens and made the proper cuts.

In this offense, Splitter’s mobility as a roll man, and his ability to make decisions and passes on the move, will be vital in the future. Though Splitter only scored eight points, his mobility caused problems for the Bobcats defense–forcing defenders to rotate over before they wanted to, leaving three-point shooters open on the perimeter.

In all, 17 three-pointers from the Spurs, five of them coming from Novak, who led the team with 19 points.

As the magic number for home court advantage through the playoffs dwindles, we can expect to see more of these nights. While there are still some tweaks to be made, this team knows who it is and what needs to be done. Rest and fresh legs will be vital moving forward.

These guys aren’t young anymore after all.