Denver Nuggets 115, San Antonio Spurs 112

by

 Last night the new-look Denver Nuggets welcomed the San Antonio Spurs to the other side of the coin–a nod to the theory that games decided in the last minute tend to be 50-50 propositions.

This time, there were no Manu Ginobili heroics to pull the Spurs through, as the shooting guard took and missed two tough shots that could have pulled the Spurs even. For you at home, the night was either highly entertaining—given the pace and flow of the game—or extremely frustrating, again, given the pace and flow of the game.

Giving up 115 points on over 50 percent shooting from the field and the three-point line, and yet somehow having an opportunity at the end, will do that.

But what the game had in entertainment value, it lacked in context. At this point in the season games, recaps, and opinions are given with the playoffs in mind and in this game there were no playoff implications. This game stands alone to be enjoyed or lamented for what it is, and then left behind in muck of an 82-game season.

There might be some concern about the defense. But understand that this is what these Denver Nuggets can do at home when catching a team unprepared.

And to an extent that’s what these Spurs were, as the Nuggets 21-2 edge in fast break point can attest to. Without Duncan there to quarterback the defense verbally and enforce it physically, the rotations just aren’t as sharp and the players found themselves that step or two out of position that accounts for the difference between a tough shot and a foul (39 free throw attempts for the Nuggets against a team that is the best in the NBA at avoiding such violations).

With limited film and no experience against these Nuggets, Denver is catching teams by surprise. A novelty factor that should wear off as teams get a second and third look at them.

Certainly you don’t worry about this team as a potential nightmare matchup because in all likelihood these two teams will never meet in the playoffs. Because as much of a story as this team’s unity without Carmelo Anthony has been, is anyone outside of Denver honestly convinced they can take out one of the West’s top four team?

What you worry about in games like these are injuries; the Spurs escaped with none and may have gotten some good news on the Duncan front. You keep a close eye on Tiago Splitter, who started strong but was winded early (have to get that game conditioning down, fortunately there is time).

And you worry about the bench.

Because outside of Gary Neal, the second unit was absolutely torched. With Al Harrington doing his Steve Novak as Matt Bonner impression (5-6 from the three-point line), Raymond Felton picking up where he left off against the Spurs in New York, and J.R. Smith doing what J.R. Smith does every so often, the second unit could have used more than one player stepping up last night.

After their last home game, Popovich put this group on notice. He expects more consistency; he expects more of what Gary Neal brought (25 points in 24 minutes). Mark my words, these playoffs are for Neal. Before the offseason comes, Neal will have won the Spurs at least one playoff game.

Outside of that, Matt Bonner simply needs to keep shooting his way out of a slump, George Hill needs to keep fighting through those screens, and Tiago Splitter needs to extend his 15 minutes of fame, or at least not get winded by the 16th minute. The basketball world doesn’t wait for Tim Duncan to get healthy. Portland is next.

  • jwalt

    td best ever — you can’t possible think Splitter was as bad as Blair was last night. Splitter was +11 in the game, Blair -15. That’s a pretty dramatic difference. And Splitter’s misses didn’t stop him from playing hard, unlike Blair.

    Did anyone else notice the play where Blair missed a shot (nothing wrong with that) but then didn’t get back on defense? It was the 4th quarter, and Blair was not only the 10th player to cross half court but he never made it into the tv screen, and Denver scored after a few passes, which is easy to do when you are playing 5 on 4. Totally inexcusable. You would expect it from a prima donna, not a Spur.

  • Dr. Who

    OK so life without Duncan isn’t a reason to yell that the sky is falling. I thougth Tiago wasn’t as bad as some people state on here. If he was tired, that is a problem. Dice’s playoff intensity during the game was a highligth for sure. Bonner and George Hill laying eggs was a lowlight and cause for concern.

    Pop’s Blair/Bonner rotation was horrible. Can’t pile on too much because we don’t see that rotation for extended minutes if Duncan is playing. Or we better not see that rotation because it was over when they played extended minutes together without a hot shooting hand (Neal) on the court.

    George Hill… he has regressed from the player that some smart guys on the board wanted to keep and trade TP away for last year. He’s not a PG but we thought we had a quality future starter on our hands. He’s really played terribly for a stretch now. That terrible stretch coincides with the emergence of Neal. Is Neal’s stud status affecting Hill’s game? Is he worried about being the odd man out now and pressing too hard? I think there might be something to that. The rotation will be strange without 21 so we can’t blast Pop too much for them. But if he trots out Bonner/Blair for extended minutes, you get what you ask for. The game was close but the McNuggets missed 10FTs. It coulda been a solid defeat also. Chalk it up to game 1 without TD. Pop now has a measuring stick of rotations, let’s use it and get some wins!

  • Espoon

    @Bruno

    A. Harrington scored against Bonner/Blair but Splitter wouldn’t have helped there. Splitter couldn’t handle Harrington outside he would give him too much space, so McDyess would have to gaurd him and the Spurs still have the same problem having bigs gaurd the perimeter. That is why Pop had to go small in the end and move Jefferson over. Unfortunately, the Spurs didn’t address the need in having a versitle 4 or 3/4 hybrid or simply a 3 with more size and length; several players were available that could have helped in this area.

    With this roster Pop may be forced to play small ball to match up with other teams. Some would say make the other teams matchup to the Spurs but the other teams won’t have to if the Spurs don’t/can’t take advantage.

  • Este

    There seems to be a running debate about Blair V Splitter and their production and minutes. If you look at the box score the Spurs actually out scored Den 38-32 pts in the paint. So this game wasn’t loss due to either Blair’s or Splitter’s contribution or lack thereof. The Spurs were not good enough offensively or defensively on the perimeter with the exception of Neal to win. If you knew before the game that without Duncan that Nene and Martin would only score a combined 19 pts and 18 rebs. I think you would take that.

    How many shots does Harrington have to knock down before you make it a point to deny him open looks. Who are you doubling on that roster that allows Harrington to continuously get open shots.

  • Dr. Who

    Box scores don’t tell the entire story. Their gaurds were killing us 1 on 1 and Harrington was going nuts. There wasn’t a huge need to go inside. It wasn’t so much Tiago better than Blair etc. Tiago seems to play decent. Blair was trying but still seemed a bit hurt. McDyess looked really good but that combo of Bonner/Blair really hurt the Spurs. That won’t be in the box score. Trust that combo played extended minutes mostly due to Duncan being out. At some point it would have been nice to see Novak, but honestly it probably wouldn’t have made much of a difference. Bonner has got to get his shot back and Hill needs to stop seeing Neal in the rearview mirror. Oh yeah… and 21 needs to get healthy!

  • DBAGuy

    Spurs started of the season with an amazing 29-4, they then followed it with a record of 28-10. This is the time we should be coming together and playing the best ball of the year. Our defense is non-existent. If we do not get HCA, it will not be a good outcome during the playoffs.

  • TD = Best EVER

    @ jwalt

    “td best ever — you can’t possible think Splitter was as bad as Blair was last night. Splitter was +11 in the game, Blair -15. That’s a pretty dramatic difference. And Splitter’s misses didn’t stop him from playing hard, unlike Blair.”

    1st the plus/minus stat is way overrated. Splitter played with Dice and Blair played with Bonner. So that stat tells more of who you played with than how well you played.

    2nd
    Splitter highlights – the Dunk(set up by TP), and a couple rebounds.
    Blair highlights – The DUNK(off of a Hill miss) and 2 nice block shots. ( 1 on Al Harrington that saved a basket for us) and usual a couple of rebounds.

    Lowlights – Splitter – 4 fouls in 17 min, missed 4 shots within 5ft of the basket while being the tallest man on the floor. And a bad TO trying to dribble around Nene who took his cookies

    Lowlights – Blair – 2 really bad passes (TO’s) 4 missed bunnies shots and Way too much reaching on Defense and not moving his feet.

    So yes Blair had 1 or 2 more lowlights than Splitter, but he also had 1 or 2 more highlights……. and in a game where everybody was a defensive lowlight…… Give me the highlights and its not close.

    Also as Este and I have already mentioned. The game wasn’t lost in the Painted area. So the Blair v Splitter debate is mute. Now any debate with Bonner in it should be put on the front burner. He is the #1 guy who needs to get benched. His Defense is always Horrible, and his Offense is just as bad recently. Novak should have gotten some burn. And Hill needs to get benched as well. Allow RJ to come off the bench to get him more looks and catch fire hopefully. Offensive shoot out and no TD and RJ still only gets 8 looks. He needs to be getting Manu like looks (11-13) per game all the time……. Other wise he needs to be benched for a purer shooter(Novak/Anderson/Green).

  • Mean-nuggin

    If the nuggets can keep the majority of these players acquired in the trade, we may be looking at the younger version of the spurs. There wasn’t a lot of ball movement against the spurs last night, but every game up to this one has been a hustle clinic. If Denver would have shot better than 50% at the line it would have been a double digit victory.

  • Ricky

    I agree with all the talk of Splitter needing to be, in some fashion, a focus of the offense. He seems clumsy and out of rhythm at times. I know he isn’t the most athletic guy on the floor. But I think he could make another team pay in various ways. He is only going to learn the system in real time by, well, playing real time. He is only going to learn various refs and their nuances by, well, playing. I love pop and I am not a coach and I am sure he would tell me to shove it….but, sometimes, I don’t get some of the moves he makes.

  • doggydogworld

    +/- is a fluky stat, especially for a single game, but it’s worth nothing that every Spur starter was + and every Spur sub was -. The exact opposite was true for Denver.

    Small ball wasn’t the problem. The Spurs did not play small ball until 5:52 left in the game, when they were already down 4. Should Splitter have checked in at 5:52 instead of Neal or RJ? No way to say. I don’t think Pop trusts him to play tough D without fouling during crunch time. Of course it’s a stretch to say anyone was playing “tough D”, but the end-of-game crew did avoid fouling.

  • ThatBigGuy

    Our MVP goes down with an injury, we lose 1 game, and suddenly the entire season is in shambles? Sheesh, until Timmy gets back, these are purely scrimmages. Pop is going to mess with rotations, throw guys in different positions, and see how his players react under odd configurations.

    There’s nothing here to think about or worry about. Dallas didn’t get all panic-y when Dirk went down and they lost 47 in a row. Chill out and hope for a quick return for the Big Fundamental.

  • jwalt

    +/- is a flukey stat for one game, but not over an entire season. It’s no fluke that the 2 best +/- scores over the season belong to Manu and Timmy. Everyone agree with that? Okay, so who has the THIRD best +/- score for the Spurs this season? Matt Bonner. He was horrible last night, but he’s been a positive for most of the season.

    And Blair is the only starter (now ex-starter) with a negative +/- for the season. And as TD Best points out, part of that stat is who you play with. Well, Blair has a negative score despite having played mainly with the other Spur starters.

    Blair kills the team by not moving his feet on defense, by constantly reaching, and by fumbling balls that he should win.

    Blair is the one who has to sit, and I’ve thought that long before Timmy sprained his ankle.

  • jwalt

    I apologize for my mistake, Jefferson also has a negative +/- score for the season.

  • Colin

    TD=BE

    Good points. I agree with you about Splitter. He had good minutes to be EFFECTIVE ENOUGH last night and showed that he is a rookie in the NBA. He will get more chances and hopefully improve. Blair and Splitter missed some easy bunnies that probably were the difference maker in the points in the paint dept.

    I also agree with RJ needing more looks, especially with Duncan absent.

    The Spurs aren’t gonna shoot much better than that on the perimeter for a half. That needs to be complemented with some semblance of an inside game in order to beat the Nuggets in the 4th quarter at a mile high.

    With the exception of McDyess’ beastly self, the Spurs’ front court scoring was absent last night. I liked what we saw of McDyess. He will be ready for the playoffs when his number is called. Duncan and McDyess (when he plays like that) in the paint are exactly what we need to contend with the Lakers. Splitter will only be effective for limited minutes.

    …..and Novak fans, seriously? He gives up WAY more than he produces against good teams. Who would he guard against the Nugs? JR? Chandler? Afflalo? Harrington? He couldn’t last 2 possessions against any of those guys. He didn’t play because of match ups and I don’t blame Pop for that one.

    Again, I want to throw in that Gary Neal is smooth. This dude can play!

  • Bruno

    @Colin

    Are u serious?? Novak can’t be worse than Bonner!! Everybody scores against Bonner in 4th, if Novak defends one possessions e make two 3points he would be better.

    @jwalt
    Pop kills the team when he put Bonner/Blair together, that is our worst frontcourt pair. Blair wasn’t playing so bad.

  • Este

    @Colin

    I certainly haven’t advocated for Novak to play big min. last night. I did think he could been in for the stretch run in the last couple of minutes when the teams were exchanging baskets and it was clear that Bonner couldn’t buy a shot.

    At the very least it would have made sense for him to be in on the last possession to help spread the floor and open up the lane.

  • Colin

    Bruno

    Why can’t Novak stay in the league then?

    Him and Bonner are both 6’10.” I’m not on the “Bonner bandwagon” per say, but he plays more like he is 6’10” than Novak.

  • Bruno

    Stats of spurs frontcourts pairs(with Bonner):

    Blair/Bonner : 102.8 points per 48 minutes.
    McDyess/Bonner: 95.7 pts allowed per 48 min.
    Splitter/Bonner: 95.5 pts allowed per 48 min.
    Duncan/Bonner: 90.9 pts allowed per 48 min.

    Obviously Pop should not put Blair/Bonner together. They play against bench players, and have the worst D. Pop should change the pairs.

  • Espoon

    @Colin

    “Why can’t Novak stay in the league then?

    Him and Bonner are both 6’10.” I’m not on the “Bonner bandwagon” per say, but he plays more like he is 6’10″ than Novak.”

    Let me respond, Bonner is more of Pf than Novak, he has more solid frame and is stronger. Novak is a tall Sf that lacks the quickness/athleticism to play the 3 and stength to play the 4. Bonner has a more defined position in the NBA and Pop has fallen in love with him.

    When you already have mismatches, it really isn’t a big difference going with Novak over Bonner especially if the other team has 4 who plays outside. I’m not one who thinks it would have mattered much. I think those who would have liked to see Novak are just thinking that Pop could have tried something, cause what they had on the floor wasn’t working.

  • Colin

    Espoon

    Fair enough.

    I would rebut that and say what they had WAS working last night with the exception of a complementary inside presence as I noted in my first post.

    They had enough perimeter shooting to WIN the game, just couldn’t put away enough easy points inside. Missed bunnies by Blair and Splitter with the team already up 10-12 points were the difference in the game.

  • Titletown99030507d

    @TD,

    Uh yes I painfully saw the whole game.

    Your wrong dude he didn’t miss that many. One was actually a block that came from the blind side by Chandler and he barely got off his finger tips. That would have been two easily.

    Also Blair got shot over way too many times and got scored on. What game were you watching?There’s no place for a hot dogging slamma jamma on this team. Blair needs to pay attention on what’s he’s doing maybe we’ll benefit from it as in scoring. What the hell was that? Don’t get me started dude there just isn’t any room for him on that roster if he’s going to continue that crap. As it is I never wanted him starting in the first place during the season they screwed up on the Blair wish project. Logging those minutes on Splitter would have been more beneficial for this team. Face it man they need a big man to clog up the lane like Splitter did. Hello? And when Timmy gets back Splitter’s ass needs to be right there next to Timmy swatting away what ever comes into the lane. Give it up on Blair it’s not going to do us any good in the playoffs if he’s the focus of defense after next to Timmy.

  • Titletown99030507d

    @TD,

    And an other thing, Splitter had 7 rebounds in 17 minutes and Blair had 6 in 25 minutes. Uh who had more? And uh who got score on more?

    Don’t bring your crappy logic here because it just don’t wash here. Go ahead bring your +/- stats out.

    Read the headlines on Spurs site.

    “Tiago hangs Tough”

  • Titletown99030507d

    Folks were getting close to playoff time and were starting to see some head cases on the team. That’s not what we want. I say if your going to curl up into the fetal position (Blair/Hill/Bonner) and suck your thumb than get the next guy off the bench and let him have a go at it. Passionate!

  • Titletown99030507d

    @Chip,

    Amen to that! Good post!

  • Bob

    @jwalt
    Where do you get your +- stats? They seem wrong. I use http://www.nba.com/statistics/plusminus/plusminus_sort.jsp?pcomb=1&season=22010&split=9&team=Spurs.

    @Dr. McCoy
    I think one of the worst things you can do when a team is aggressively trapping like that is making things easier for them by having bad spacing. It kind of reduces the effectiveness of the pick and roll. By bringing the roll guy to set a pick your also bringing the second defender over to form a trap on the ball handler.

  • Espoon

    @Colin

    It may have been working offensively but defensively it wasn’t. And when the offense goes cold you have to rely on defense. The last comment was about Novak and Bonner and not Splitter. Splitter would have done litte to help defensively because Denver was beating the Spurs from the outside, it wasn’t like Nene and Martin were tearing it up inside. The Spurs would have had macth up problems either way. Maybe changing the defense (like trapping, swithing then doubling, or going to a zone) would have been more effective than who played. The Nuggets forced tough shots and got stops when they needed to and the Spurs didn’t.

  • Titletown99030507d

    @Dr. Leonard McCoy,

    ““trap defense” system, our boys could be in for a difficult time (can we use it; can we use it? can we, can we?!). Any thoughts or comments on how to counter this & more?

    Yeah, get some taller fresh perimeter shooters say like JA or even Novak to get that pass over the defenders and on to Tiago or the roll guy. I prefer Tiago. Size matters going to the rim.
    Tiago would have feasted on them but ol George Karl studied that game tape and we weren’t ready for that. That proves that head coaches around the league are starting to take notice on Tiago’s strengths in that respect.

  • Titletown99030507d

    @Espoon,

    Wrong. Splitter is not a slug by any stretch. He’s not slow dude he has good lateral movement for a big guy. Next.

  • Titletown99030507d

    @Este,

    Yes there is a debate between Splitter v Blair. I’ll take Splitter any day of the week. Slow the hell down the game with your best shooters and and insert Dyess and Splitter to clog up the lane because it will turn into a half court game if the perimeter defense guys do their job. And if that happens we have a good chance of controlling the game and defending shots players like Chandler and Martin were taking over Blair. And don’t tell me Novak couldn’t put a hand in Harrington’s face.
    Give this guy a break man. He’ll prove everybody wrong also.

  • Nima K.

    Maybe we should tailor a similar solution to our problems in the playoffs:

    http://blog.mysanantonio.com/spursnation/2011/03/24/magic-wont-shave-until-their-playoff-run-ends/

    Lol

  • Colin

    @Titletown

    “And don’t tell me Novak couldn’t put a hand in Harrington’s face.”

    He could. But it wouldn’t matter. Novak can’t defend my kitchen table.

  • Hobson13

    Titletown99030507d
    March 24th, 2011 at 2:14 pm

    I agree with your post. Blair’s actual performance is best summed up with his +- stat of -15 (the lowest on both teams). I’ve been a huge Blair supporter, but after watching him last night, it was plain to see that after almost 2 years with the Spurs he just doesn’t get it. Blair either has games where he is a double double machine or he has games where he is one of the worst players on the court. Sure he’s young, but even for someone so young, he is wildly inconsistent. Blair’s minutes should be determined on a nightly basis based upon the matchups. He just doesn’t appear to be a guy we can count on to play a fixed number of minutes EVERY single game.

    I still contend that perimeter defense was the #1 killer of the Spurs last night. We scored 112 pts against a Denver team that has only given up an average of 97ppg since the Melo trade. The offense was good (even though it could have been even better) but the perimeter defense was MIA. I know Denver has great athletes, but surely we can do a better job keeping up with perimeter players.

    I was actually surprised at how well the Splitter/Dyess combo held Nene and Martin in check. Nene scored only 8pts in 33 minutes and neither blew the Spurs up on the offensive glass. The Spurs actually outrebounded the Nuggs and we almost kept up in blocked shots (Nuggs 8-6). Bottom line: The big guys played ok from a defensive standpoint. It was the smalls that played matadore defense.

  • Bankshot21

    I actually enjoyed this game. We have a very well balanced team. Losses aren’t always as bad as they seem. If we would have been blown out or been playing catch up all night then I would be unsatisfied, but having the game in our grasps and making a few “fundamental” errors while missing Mr.Fundamental himself is ok IMO. Half empty will never be the way I see the glass if I haven’t made that point crystal clear by now. No panic or dent in my faith in our organization’s chances of winning another Title.

  • Dr. Who

    @ThatBigGuy
    ThatBigGuy
    Pop is going to mess with rotations…
    There’s nothing here to think about or worry about… Chill out and hope for a quick return for the Big Fundamental

    @Bankshot21
    …having the game in our grasps and making a few “fundamental” errors while missing Mr.Fundamental himself is ok IMO. No panic or dent in my faith in our organization’s chances of winning another Title.

    +10

    If we can get TD back and Dyess plays nasty like last night, I like our chances. Hill needs to wake up though and if Bonner returns to playoff form, Novak should be inserted in his absence. It would be nice if RJ started nailing 3’s like he did at the beginning of the season.

  • TD = Best EVER

    @ Titletown99030507d

    “Also Blair got shot over way too many times and got scored on. What game were you watching?”

    The same game that saw Kenyon Martin score all of 2FG’s against DJB. It’s not like he gave up 10 points in the paint or anything……..

    Also of DJB 3 FG’s. 1 was assisted on and the other 2 were offensive rebounds. Tiago had 2 offensive rebounds, but missed his put backs. So I guess your theory of “Size matters going to the rim” doesn’t hold true. He had one blocked but missed 3 easy shots within a few ft of the rim by his self. He is the tallest man on the court last night and couldn’t convert over Al Harrington when he had the chance, Twice. One on a baby jump hook 3 ft away and then got his own rebound and missed again.

    Yes he had more rebounds in less minutes than DJB did. But DJB had more block shots (2 – both on layup attempts so he did play some Defense) and had fewer fouls, which was one of the reasons the game was close. If we weren’t fouling as much we could have won this game comfortably.

    So they both had their ups and downs, but to say that Splitter DESERVED to come back in the game because of his performance is just CRAZY. His performance was average at best and with his obsessive fouling POP decided to go elsewhere. One play Tiago at 6-11 decided to take a charge on Ty Lawson 5-11 and was called with a blocking foul. All I could do was laugh, why would you try to take a block when you are a ft taller than the other guy? Make no sense, just put you hands up and be tall and force him to make it over the top of you or go for the block like Blair did when he blocked a Ty Lawson layup.

    The real story here was Bonner, Hill, Rj not playing well and Bonner getting abused badly by Harrington.

  • hassan

    @ junierizzle
    March 24th, 2011 at 7:29

    What you mean they don’t pass the ball. They had 22 assists on 39 FGM/ 77 FGA ~ 50% shooting(which is awesome) and 8- 9 out of 12 3-pointers where assisted my friend; If they made just 40% of their 2-point shots it would have been a Denver blowout as they struggled with the 2-point shots strangley….

    We had 19 assists only dude….. on 38 FGA out of 11 more FGA(88)….Don’t say stuff just to say stuff..back it up..

    We just did not defend the 3 point line well… always a step slow….

    POP & TP/Manu where not ready to deal with hard traps on Tony/Manu and when they pass out
    the open players just looked tentative shooting esp. Hill and Bonner… should have tried Novak…

  • Jimbo (Oz)

    Guys, I haven’t seen it mentioned, but do you agree we seem to be going away from our teamwork, execution and play-calling at the end of games ? Manu is my favourite player ever, but I wish someone would tell him not to try and impersonate LeBron at the end of games – he always used to be willing to pass, and I don’t know what’s happened ????

  • rob

    Well, after some seclusion and reading what others have posted…the only conclusion I can come up with is…everybody’s correct. Both complainers and advocates.

    The things each of us see’s or focusses on are the things that either make the Spurs great or doomed for this season regardless of record.

    The game last night showed (for those who try and down play Duncan’s importance for lack of seasonal numbers) that this team needs Duncan to figure out a way to win these types of games.

    Sorry to insight his supporters…but George Hill is an illusion of himself. He’s not a team player though he may express this differently just to say or pretend to be what others want him to say or be. But lately not to be the case in game situations.

    If you’re looking for a player that best exudes team over self…Gary Neal is that person. He makes it happen even though he is not the focus of it happening because he so looks to do what is best for the team and not just himself.

    Tiago Splitter is not a savior or bust. He’s simply a player that needs more time to do what he does best and realize that what he doesn’t do best is only a hinderance if the team can’t produce to the best of their capacity. And other players…hint, hint Hill… need to look to get him involved more while on the court.

    Bonner will need to prove (like he’s never proven since being on the team) to not go dormant the closer playoffs near. Honestly…I think Novak is counting on Bonner’s past tendacies of disapperaing to become more involved with this team. He may not have to wait for long.

    Jefferson needs to attack. And attack with purpose on the court. OK…I get it…he’s been doing decent defensively…but his defense does not shut down other opponents enough to warrant his lack of offensive production which could be different with either a different mind set or planned execution. Probably both.

    Tony Parker. Probably having one of his best season’s since joining the team. I don’t know what else he can do different than what he’s done this season. If the team needs assists…he gets them. If the team needs scoring…he scores. The only thing I think he needs to step up is being more vocal and leader like when on the court.

    Manu Ginobili. What dictates his train of thought to beleive he is Larry Bird re-incarnated to take SO many 3 point attempts in a game. For all the great this guy brings to the team…his undoings during games are sometimes just as noticeable and notable as when he sometimes (not as often as some want to believe) being the person who won the game with last minute heroics. It’s still a “team” game even if you are “allowed” to be the man at times.

    DeJuan Blair. The moment he gets over himself to being an undersized post player in this league…he might actually become a consistent post player in this league. Quit trying to prove in areas you selfishly think can make you the best and start “doing” the things that will make you the best you can be.

    Antonio McDyess. Just WOW. McDyess is probably more relevant with less physical ability than when he was (at one point prior to his injury) the most dominant player in the league. He is the consumate pro.

    Coach Pop. Please, please, please start sticking with the plays and lineups that are known to work and stop stubornly trying to make things happen or players become that which they are not. (Though this might be the plan to begin with so as not to show your hand prior to playoffs)

    Anyway…a long (and to some extent negative) post. But I beleive these things I see with the players can change before or at least during the playoffs. The importance of this team winning games without Duncan will go a long way to being the catalyst that helps this team win it all.

    And not that it is necessary more so than it will define this team as a true team oriented organization if they can recognize and improve upon their individual short comings with Duncan out for the moment.

    Go Spurs Go!!!

  • Chipp

    One last point about Novak. He is working his butt off on defense. While he may not be too effective, just how good do you have to be to be in the same league as Bonner?

    And I remember the rub on G-Neal early in the season is HE couldn’t play D. But look now and he’s a closer BECAUSE of his defensive effort.

    I’m not saying Novak will ever be a stopper, but he is hitting most of his rotations, and doing a reasonable job of putting a butt on a defender once the shot goes up.

    But isn’t the real issue is we all know exactly how Bonner’s slump will take him into the playoffs as his shot dependably leaves him this time of year. And THAT’S why they got Novak.

  • TDzilla!

    @ Alix Babaie
    “he could have farted in Nene’s general direction and been whistled for a flagrant one.”

    a fragrance foul, perhaps?

  • http://48minutesofhell.com Jesse Blanchard

    Because conditioning has nothing to do with it:

    “I’m not 100 percent in game shape,” said Splitter, who is averaging 11 minutes, 41 seconds per appearance. “It takes time and a couple games to be in shape.”

    Read more: http://www.mysanantonio.com/default/article/Spurs-notebook-Bonner-not-worried-about-shooting-1297693.php#ixzz1HcN9zTg5

  • jwalt

    Bob — I looked at 82games.com, which admittedly is not up to date. There numbers are thru March 5th.

    When I said that I understood why Pop plays Blair and Bonner together, I didn’t say I agreed with it. As with most bloggers here, I think the two are just too weak defensively to play together.

    But I will bring up one more point on why I think Bonner is the better player. He knows his limitations. He rarely turns the ball over as a result. Blair is not only bad with the ball, worse is that he is aggressively bad. Tries to make plays that just aren’t there. He is averaging around 1.5 turnovers a game, Bonner about 0.5.

    And Splitter needs to get in shape!

  • Espoon

    @ Titletown99030507d

    “Wrong. Splitter is not a slug by any stretch. He’s not slow dude he has good lateral movement for a big guy. Next.”

    I have never said Splitter was a slug. However, he is not quick enough and comfortable enough to gaurd versitle bigs on the perimeter. He would give up too much space and guys would have open looks or he would get beat off the dribble. If he was in the game Pop would not have put him on Harrington anyway. If he was that quick, with such great lateral quickness, he would be gaurding more PF’s, Pop would not go small as often, and he would be getting more time period.

  • TD = Best EVER

    @ jwalt

    “Tries to make plays that just aren’t there. He is averaging around 1.5 turnovers a game, Bonner about 0.5.”

    Yes but a lot of his TO’s are on the roll of the PNR. The guard will pass him the ball 15ft from the basket and he will try to read the Defense and make the correct pass. On Wednesday he had 2 TO’s and 2 assists on such plays. Bonner never really rolls to the basket so he doesn’t have to make that hard decision.

  • jwalt

    TD = BE, you are correct regarding the PNR analysis, but overall I stand by what I wrote.

    Both are averaging about 22 minutes a game. Bonner is averaging 0.9 assists a game and 0.4 turnovers. Blair is at 1.0 assists and 1.4 turnovers.

    So the assists is practically even while Blair is averaging 3 times as many turnovers.

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  • Titletown99030507d

    @Espoon,

    Wrong again. Period!

  • Richard Radcliffe

    What all you homers seem to forget is that Denver had an awful first quarter that was not completely due to SA defense, Denver won three of four quarters, and Denver shot something like 65% from the charity stripe. And Denver won. Why don’t you give credit where credit is due?

    SA will be a handful in the playoffs (with or without TD), but why bother actually playing the game? Let’s just go ahead and declare them the West Champs like all of you seem to think they deserve.

    A Denver Fan