San Antonio Spurs 111, Golden State Warriors 96: Spurs win, but it’s not all “flowers and lollipops”

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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,  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.

  • http://searchingforslava.blogspot.com dave m

    Sincerest hopes from enemy territory, for Tim to come back soon. Spurs have been awesome this year and should remain at full strength. Meanwhile, a random foray into the land of airstrikes, punk bands from Italy and toothless old dogs. http://tinyurl.com/63fwuyl

  • TD = Best EVER

    You can count me in as a fan who wanted to see TD get some rest. Although DNP-CD’s were how I expected to see them.

    Splitter getting more minutes can’t hurt either…. He is gonna have to work really hard at finishing around the rim and playing strong D. These next few games should tell us what we have in him.

    Novak – I’m ok with him playing as long as it’s at the 3 spot…… We don’t need a Bonner backup, is Bonner is off, just play Splitter more and improve the Defense. Or Blair and improve our rebounding.

    Hill/RJ – Both struggling and have been for a while, on two different sides of the ball. RJ’s D has been solid, but Offense has been in a nose dive for a while. And Hill’s Defense has been about as bad for about the same length of time. When is he going to get back to being a defensive minded wing player??

    Neal – should be fine, he is the closet thing we have every had to a PURE SHOOTER since we had Finley.

    Also TD has to be able to at least dominate Defensively for this team to have a chance against LA. Also is you saw the Mavs game, when TD gets it going Offensively, he can still get good/great centers in foul trouble. We will also miss that, playing the Mavs with Chandler in foul trouble the whole game is a lot different than playing them when he is not.

  • jwalt

    td best — just one small clarification. Manu drew Chandler fouls 4, 5, and 6. And it was huge, as you said, having Chandler’s butt planted on the bench.

    We most certainly will miss Duncan. You can’t replace the intelligence, leadership, and all around abilities that he brings to the table.

    But this is getting weird for me. All year I’ve thought this season reminds me of 2005. And now Duncan gets a sprained ankle just before the playoffs are set to begin. How did the 2005 season turn out?

  • Dr. Leonard McCoy

    Damnit Jim! The man seems to be a magnet for fouls! Ladies & germs, boys & squirts, that’s the problem I percieve for TS-22. It was rearing its ugly head again last night, & for tomorrow, thank goodness it’s against Denver & Nene, & since they know each other so well, that will be an intresting matchup to see! OH! But Portland! OH MY! Any who, we need Splitter to play & stay on the court MUCH longer than just 15 or 20 minutes during this TD-21- less stretch. Portland WILL be a BIG test, especially with their BIGS! I’m sure that Pop will attempt to go small at times in many of these games, but I thought this happened so we can play uptempo ball, & I don’t know about you all, but I just don’t see where we get the advantage most of the time or if it even working or not. Do you? So, as Tiago is getting more & more playing time, hopefully, this will help to reduce his chances of getting into foul trouble. Also those “charges” he tries to get on the opposition just ain’t happening either! ARRG! But I DO admire his defensive abilities & his willingness to defend though! Uh oh! And Blair! Well, we can say that he’s improved since last year, but it seems that he still struggles against bigger bods. So, poor Dyess may have to work more, or we may have to see more of Bonner & or Novak getting more minutes, or maybe the Spurs may have to attempt to go small to compensate for our bigs, when they get into foul trouble, perhaps. If we do go small, it would be also nice to see “Mr.” Anderson getting some burn time, but in the end, our rebounding will suffer for it. But all in all, this will be an intresting road trip, but hopfully with some promising outcomes for “T-Splitt” & I’m also hoping that it will rub off on the rest of the team, too. GO SPURS GO & GIT ONE 4 THA THUMB!!!

  • rob

    @ Titletown99030507d

    “Duncan can hangout at the key and shoot all night long if he wants while Splitter is getting in position to score the basket.”

    Makes sense and doesn’t wear out Duncan as much in the post.

    If Tiago gets better…which he’ll have planty of opportunity to hone his role…that just might be something we see in the playoffs.

  • zainn

    It would be nice to see a blair splitter starting lineup just to see the young guys beast the boards, especially blair who will be back for wednesdays game. Nene is gonna be a handful for splitter/mcdyess against the nuggets wednesday so im sure manu and parker will step up their games.

  • Titletown99030507d

    @Dr. Leonard McCoy,

    The foul thing damn it Jim! It’s because of the amount of time he hasn’t had on the court. That will change with more playing time. Then they can give it all they got Captin.

  • Titletown99030507d

    @Zainn,

    Even the Splitter/Balir combo can work good. They both have offense awareness and can be found all alone at the rim for some nice easy dunks. Don’t worry about Splitter handling Nene if he showed he can hold off Bynum as we saw for 5 minutes (I don’t know why they didn’t play him more then) in the 2nd Laker game he can hold off Nene. That’s going to be fun to watch. Splitter is only getting better. I hope they play him the rest of the regular season and let the chips fall where they do come playoffs. All up to Pops.

  • Bruno

    Splitter knows Nene. Both played together in Brazilian nacional team. Last time Splitter played in Denver he had 12 points/9 rebounds

  • Spur4Life

    @Titletown
    “Duncan can hangout at the key and shoot all night long if he wants while Splitter is getting in position to score the basket.”

    I like this idea and out of all the years watching just about every Spurs game, I truly don’t remember seeing Duncan shoot so much from the top of the key. He hits it and I think this may just be up Pop’s sleeve to go against teams like LA. I don’t think it will be for a lot of minutes but it may be for short runs to get Splitter going and make use of his low minutes in playoffs. I say low minutes because even though I would love to see him a lot of action, I just don’t think it will happen.
    GSG!

  • Titletown99030507d

    @Bruno,

    He probably gets his double/double against Denver, but only if the team look for him. If that happens we could be seeing the future now. By the way Bruno do follow Euro league ball? If you do how’s DeColo doing in terms of development?

  • http://espn.com Ed

    Blessing in disguise…I vote yes! Splitter gets in shape and gets his timing down with the other 1st teamers…it’s a win-win. Bonner is in a slump, he’ll come out. Hill, on the other hand, is a little distressing. It’s been chronicled here over and over that he can’twon’t hit the “roller” on the Pn’R. He is becoming a liability from the standpoint of offensive movement and diversity. IMO that is what got Garret Temple shown the door. Temple showed some atheletic ability and skills but after getting Pop’s attention he figured he had it made and went rogue, ignoring the execution that makes the Spurs elite. Hill IMO is walking down that same path. I expect Tim back for the last 2-4 games and then expect Splitter to be a big part of the rotation througout the playoffs. Go Spurs Go!!

  • Titletown99030507d

    Actually Bruno I found a new link for Nando De Colo. Its a long video but there some hints of good shooting. Also it sounds like a parade is fixing to drive through the arena but looks like they’re having a party in there.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J-3ITbhZmYY

  • Bruno

    @Titletown99030507d

    Yes i follow. Most Spanish e Euroleague games

  • hassan

    @ Mike Mitchell

    “March 22nd, 2011 at 7:49 am Best thing that could have happened to the Spurs…watch this team come together under the short-term setback of no Blair and Duncan…gives time for Hill, Splitter and the rest of the bench to step up offensively and defensively in preparation for the playoffs…TD and Blair return healthy and away we go to title #5…there’s part of me that wonders if this was orchestrated by Pop…a little fake injury to TD to get his team focused…”

    What are you saying dude??You crazy.. did you see the fall on TV….I about passed out….

    I think we will loose a lot of games if our perimeter defense doesn’t step up as Duncan was bailing them a lot with altered and blocked shots(> 2 a game in < 30 minutes/game) and if they do step up then his injury won't be in vain….hope you are right…

  • andy

    @Sarge
    March 22nd, 2011 at 8:29 am

    definitely. one of the most overlooked players in the nba for the season. he’s been killing it, and has probably been our most consistent player all season, and didn’t even make the all-star team. if the spurs are a lamborghini, tim is the chassis, manu the transmission, and tony the engine. you need all of them, but tony’s providing the power now.

    as i’ve said before, as much as i would prefer duncan have stayed healthy, i’m glad splitter’s gonna get some burn. i’m hoping he convinces pop to leave him in regularly.

    re: novak
    didn’t jeff van gundy say he’s the best shooter he’s ever seen? sure, it’s an opinion, but van gundy’s been around a fair number of great shooters. if ever there were a team that could find a few minutes for a specific skill set guy like him, it’s the spurs.

  • Titletown99030507d

    @andy,

    Like the lambo ananlogy. Nice.

  • DorieStreet

    @ Andy March 22nd 2011 11:11pm

    I second the motion of Titletown99030507d

    Very good–distinguishes each player from each other but how they all are crucial to the team.

  • Jowy

    Nobody mentions R Jefferson, i guess is because he is being missing in action (at least offensively). Pops should remember him all the work they did in the summer, RJ should attack the rim more now without Timmy, Parker and Manu will take charge but it is the other guys who should step up. Tiago will get minutes, Dice may not play over 25 minutes (thats too much) GHill and RJ have to be aggressive, Neal, Novak and Bonner have to keep shooting (if any get ice cold just sit them aside Timmy). Im hoping of RJ and GHill, But I will make my guess and say its Manu time!! he have the heart of a warrior.