San Antonio Spurs 111, Golden State Warriors 96: Spurs win, but it’s not all “flowers and lollipops”
AT&T CENTER–Tiago Splitter notched his first NBA double-double (10 points, 14 rebounds), Steve Novak provided another spark off the bench, and the defense held Monta Ellis to 10 points. Yet the San Antonio Spurs 111-96 victory was, as head coach Gregg Popovich put it, “not flowers and lollipops.”
That’s because Tim Duncan went down early against the Golden State Warriors, again, only unlike last time there would be no return for a triple-double. X-rays were negative, but as Sean Elliott reported, Duncan could be out a couple weeks.
“It’s bad timing. Hopefully it’s nothing really bad, but I saw him in pain and he’s not one of those guys that’s going to pretend or do that if he’s not hurting,” Manu Ginobili said. “It’s bad, but hopefully it’s just a couple games and he’ll be back soon.”
With Duncan limping to the locker room, Tiago Splitter stepped in and had a very productive first quarter with eight points and six rebounds. With big nights from Novak (13 points, 5-6 shooting), Tony Parker (17 points, a tied-for-career-high 15 assists), and Ginobili (28 points) it was enough to get past these Warriors without Tim Duncan. But not without some cause for concern.
Notably, after the game Popovich was unhappy with the team’s inability to finish off the Golden State Warriors–having to put starters back in the game–playing Parker and Ginobili near their season averages in minutes in what should have been a runaway victory–after the bench let the visiting team claw back within single digits in the fourth quarter. It is a trend Pop would rather not see continue.
“Unfortunately Tony and Manu needed to be on the court as long as they were,” Popovich said. “If everybody on the bench would have shown,Â but we had a couple of guys who need to step up their games as we get down the stretch and into the playoffs.
“I just need the bench to be more consistent and I don’t think they’ve been as consistent as I would like in the last five or six games, even though we’ve won a few.”
That statement could easily have been directed at Matt Bonner, who hit his first shot, and his last shot, but missed the seven in between. It’s been a rough couple of games for Bonner, eased a bit for the Spurs by the minutes put in by Novak.
“He’s human. He’s one of the best shooters in the league and he hasn’t had two consecutive bad shooting games all season up until this point,” Ginobili said of Bonner. “He just needs to keep shooting.”
There will be ample opportunity in the coming weeks in the absence of Duncan, and not just for Bonner, but for everyone.
“We’re going to have to play a little bit faster, a lot of pick and rolls with myself and Manu,” Tony Parker said. “And just try to get everybody else to pick it up and be aggressive.”
Without Duncan, expect a lot more of the offense to fall in the hands of Parker, who has been nothing short of brilliant over the past few weeks. While he still may not possess the creativity and artistry of a Steve Nash or Chris Paul, Parker has honed his decision making and passing.
Keeping in mind that it’s Golden State, Parker was still able to get in the paint at will. And while he’ll never be as adept at slipping passes through multiple defenders at will as his aforementioned peers–though he’s not bad by any means–he does not need to be. His ability to get in the lane is so potent, and he draws so much attention, he’ll always have his pick of passing lanes.
That being said, this team is not going where it needs to be without Tim Duncan. Get well soon.