San Antonio Spurs 111, Toronto Raptors 100: The Spurs and the walking dead
To quote my colleague and Editor Timothy Varner, another night another ho-hum victory for the San Antonio Spurs.
There is a reason why, in Detroit, Varner and the contingent of travelling Spurs media were quizzed by perplexed beat reporters on what exactly makes this team so damn good at 44-8. For over three quarters in Toronto it was impossible to distinguish one team from the other before the Spurs pulled away for a relatively easy victory.
But the San Antonio Spurs will not be, as suggested, the first team in NBA history to accidentally back their way into 65-wins. Though they might be the first to stumble their way into it, this is no accident. This is purposeful.
Because the offense-oriented nature of this Spurs revival, there have been comparisons to the Phoenix Suns of recent memory. But those Phoenix teams injected life and a frenetic pace into the game, if only to burn out every season. These Spurs offer no such charisma, speed, or energy. They simply march forward at a steady, unrelenting pace.
What makes these Spurs so good? Simply put, they wonâ€™t die. Or, in another theory, they are the walking undead. Zombies.
There are certainly more frightening beasts than those that so famously graced George A. Romeroâ€™s films. The original zombies (not the new age ones that sprint like a million Tony Parkers and scare the hell out of me) were never so fast that one could not simply outrun them. Sometimes comically so. They were never so physically strong that one could not fight one or two off.
What makes the zombie so appealing, so apocalyptic and final, is that they come tirelessly and in numbers. Wave after wave of them, even if at times clumsily so. Until the survivors that so effortlessly maneuvered around them find themselves overwhelmed and cornered in a shopping mall.
And so it was that for three quarters the Toronto Raptors outran and outmaneuvered the Spurs. DeMar DeRozan running circles around defenders to the tune of 25 points while Andrea Bargnani managed to attack the defense from a distance, peppering jumper after jumper (29 points).Â The Raptors actually enjoyed a three-point lead heading into the final quarter.
But the Spurs kept coming, and coming. Wave after wave. A Gary Neal or Matt Bonner three-pointer here, a DeJuan Blair tip-in there. And Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili everywhere. Four starters scored in double figures with George Hill contributing 18 points off the bench.
And that’s the strength of these Spurs. They simply outlast other teams, staying step for step with opponentsÂ in tireless pursuit, until the fourth quarter when, at the point of exhaustion, opposing teamsÂ have nowhere else to run. Then the Spurs simply feast.