San Antonio Spurs 113, Golden State Warriors 102: Duncan goes down, comes back, ditto for fans’ confidence

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The San Antonio Spurs have been blessed with mostly good health this season, especially to the team’s irreplaceable pieces. We haven’t seen Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili and Tony Parker in this good of condition since the Spurs last won an NBA title in the 2007 season.

With the exception of some injuries to guys like James Anderson, George Hill and Matt Bonner, the Spurs have been lucky when it comes to health. For a stretch of time during the Spurs’ 113-102 win over the Golden State Warriors, it seemed like that might all come crashing down.

During the second quarter, Tim Duncan went down with a knee injury that scared the bejeezus out of every Spurs fan still awake. And those who slept had to have been awoken subconsciously.

The injury was diagnosed as a hyperflexed left knee and Duncan returned to start the second half. From there, Duncan played his normal rotation and finished the game with 16 points and seven rebounds. It appears we have a return to normalcy, though I’m sure his injury status will be monitored over the next few days.

Some bright spots to Duncan’s injury were the shifts put in by Tiago Splitter and Antonio McDyess. With Matt Bonner still out with a knee injury, Duncan’s premature exit in the second quarter left San Antonio with a three-big rotation. And Monday night in San Francisco was one of those games where DeJuan Blair wasn’t much of a factor, so that second quarter was all about Dice and the Brazilian.

Luckily for the Spurs, the pair was up to the challenge. McDyess finished with one of his best games of the season, producing 14 points and 10 rebounds in about 24 minutes of action. Dice also led the team with a +23 in the +/- category.

Splitter played over 21 minutes against the Warriors, scoring seven points and grabbing six rebounds. Tiago also got to the line for eight free throws, continuing the trend of drawing fouls at a bonus-friendly rate for San Antonio. At this point, Splitter’s greatest offensive skill is drawing fouls. It’s uncanny in its frequency.

One noticeable thing about the work Splitter put in against Golden State is that the hesitation — lag time, if you will — on the offensive end is almost gone. He’s apparently been working on Head Coach Gregg Popovich’s offensive sets in his free time, as he seems like he knows exactly where he’s going and when in the half court.

Thanks in part to Splitter’s eight free throws, and a team-high 11 from Manu Ginobili, the Spurs shot 34 free throws in the game, 14 more than the 20 that the Warriors finished with.

Also, the Spurs only turned the ball over nine times. They’ve had almost that many in single quarters this season. And in a game that was as fast and, at times, sloppy as this, nine turnovers is great.

San Antonio’s next game is Wednesday against the Jazz in Utah. You can bet Tuesday will be a much-needed day to rest some aches and pains.

  • Mitch

    Good win. Nice to see Splitter get some more min. w/ Bonner out. Can’t wait for Anderson to come back! GO SPURS GO!!!

  • Mark

    Anyone have an update on Bonner’s injury?

  • E-spur

    Did I see the Golden State fans applaud when Duncan got back up or was I imagining it? If so, that was very classy of them.

  • Nima K.

    +23 for Old Man McD. Dang! He Da man 8-)

    Pop actually used Tiago this time early on. Sweet.

    But it seems he needs lots of work to improve. No?

    What do u guys think his biggest absolute must-fix defficiencies are?

  • spursfanbayarea

    @E-Spur
    I was at the game and the fans did applaud when duncan got up. Also you may have not been able to see it on tv, they also gave him an applause as he walked back to the locker room. Seeing him injured took the wind out of me. If he goes down with a serious injury so do our title hopes. I was able to see him stretch and try out his leg doing the halftime warmup and was able to move around in all directions. That was a good sign. Anyhow hopefully they can limit his touches and get splitter more involved.
    Side note: It was my son’s first basketball game and Im glad it was to see the San Antonio Spurs! What better first game to watch.

  • spursfanbayarea

    @Nima
    Splitter needs to learn how to finish much stronger around the rim. Puts up way too many weak little flips. Okafur had a field day against him last game. He is a young 7 footer. Should have some more slams in peoples faces.

  • Rafael

    we must have patience with Splitter, only now he is playing many minutes…He needs confidence. Duncan scared me Thank God. Ginobili and TP played well

  • junierizzle

    Good win.
    Nice to see TIAGO out there. I guess it’s safe to say that the front office aint expecting much out of him this year. I won’t be surprised if he gets put on ice in the playoffs. I think we should get used to that fact NOW. I hope Im wrong though. This season is all about getting a feel of the NBA for TIAGO.
    I think right now he is not sure of how many minutes he is going to get so he probably thinks too much out there. He seems to be rushing everything because he might only get 3 minutes. Its not rocket science. The more minutes he gets, the more he contributes. His free throw shooting looks a lot better. And he gets to the line frequently as the article stated.

    Keep it up TIAGO, maybe you can earn a spot in the playoff rotation.

  • Miggy

    Man that was scary. Duncan on the floor holding his knee. It just seemed like he was holding and praying at the same time. He wasn’t grimacing, just solemn in his timeless Duncan way hanging on to that which keeps him one of the greatest players in the league, his health. I said a quick prayer in the same moment. Thank God he’s ok. Whew!

    Tiago, Tiago, Tiago! He’s just great. I love to see him out there. It was especially gratifying to see him get some playing time with Tim and Manu. He’s going to be an incredible asset the next part of the season.

  • The Beat Counselor

    @E-spur

    I was at the game as well and Warriors fans indeed cheered after TD got up and walked to the bench.

    Lot of Spurs fans at the game, but I doubt it was just the Spurs fans cheering.

    Thank god it wasn’t serious. I would have blamed myself for going to the game and jinxing him…

  • Ruel

    Great Win tonight!!! Febuary is almost here and there’s more to come in? Good to hear Timmy was Okay and saw him came back on the second half? Please, give him rest. We can risk and afford to give him rest atleast for a week for good benefit and he deserve it or if it’s not? Atleast give him a game off or less minutes. We surely needs Tim Duncan next week tuesday.

    About Tiago’s case? Good to see him two games in a row with good minutes. He will be ready for Defense the next games? If he score +10 or -10 we’ll take it wether we win or lose? Without Tim or less minutes? We have enough separations from teams below us in the west and I think we can afford it atleast for one game or two and hopefully everybody will be back healthy next week and can play? Get well soon Matt…Go San Antonio Spurs Go!!!

  • AmyfromLA

    Yeah, the league pass broadcast showed Timmy walking to the locker room and I noticed people in the stands were cheering him on. It was a very nice sight. =)

  • AS

    David Lee thinks the Spurs are boring. Poor guy, he’ll be a loser his entire career.

  • rob

    @spursfanbayarea

    Way cool. Hope your son enjoyed the game. Way to go getting him an early start to watching the Spurs.

  • The Beat Counselor

    @AS
    David Lee has RJs nuts@ck imprinted on the back of his neck.

    Yeehaw!

  • DRoach

    Does anyone know how many charges Tiago drew.

  • Chris WAMBO

    I know I was scared!

    GO SPURS GO

  • maudean robinson

    tim duncan, the greatest player to ever play the position i am so grateful that he is ok. of course fans will cheer for tim, they appreciate greatness. fan vote for tim for the all star. timmy, mvp. go spurs go…

  • maudean robinson

    tony parkers need to try and play defense, and make more assists. parker, you are not a shooter, try a little harder to play defense, duncan has been carrying you all your career, repay him by making more assists.

  • http://www.bpifanconnect.com Alix Babaie

    I am glad I was not the only Spurs fan who was bothered by Lee’s comment. I think it is exactly this mindset which is unfounded, especially this year, that keeps the Spurs on page 2 of most of the sports pages in the country.

    This team runs a ton, scores in bunches, fast breaks like a mo-fo and STILL can’t get any love whatsoever!

    I also thought it was humorous of Bill Simmons to state last week that his dark horse for the Melo Sweepstakes was the Spurs shipping RJ, Tiago and George for that “cancer to his team” – to quote the loquacious, cerebral KG. :)

  • Bruno

    Guards Duel
    TP+Manu = 38 points,18 ast,7 reb,4 steals, 3 turnov.
    in 63 minutes
    Curry+Ellis= 39 points, 7 ast, 9 reb,3 steals,7 turnov.
    in 79 minutes

    Is good to see Ginobili playing well again but miss 44 free throw streak. TP with double-double, TD scared me. Splitter needs more self confidence and team confidence, a lot times he was free in the paint and nobody pass the ball, made some mistakes but play well in defense, got some charges

  • SA_Ray

    Anyone notice that RJ is having a terrible January and he has been trending down all season? This is really starting to worry me.

    Tony on the other hand has been a rock lately. Outside of that Hornets game he has been the most dependable player the Spurs put on the floor. Manu may close the game but TP is running the show the other 46 minutes.

  • Bentley

    SA_Ray

    RJ had a pretty good game last night, especially in the second half he was in rhythm in making a few jumpshots and had a few nice drives to the basket. I think its more of the Spurs not involving Jefferson in the offense more than him struggling

  • jwalt

    Splitter reminds me of Kevin Love in the following way, they both play like bruising fullbacks do in football. The more they play, the more they wear out their opponents with their physicality. For Love the biggest difference is that he is getting more minutes, and now just flat out exhausts his opponents. I think it would be the same for Tiago. I also think he will be a lousy spot player, in fact, he has been a lousy spot player. But I have confidence that if the need ever arises that he HAS to play 30+ minutes a game that his effectiveness will improve considerably.

  • jwalt

    And yes, RJ is becoming a concern again. His focus has been lousy the last 8 or 10 games, excluding last night. I think the team really needs to feed him early in games so that he gets into a positive mindset.

    Actually, I think the Spurs tried to do that last night, but he fumbled away some easy baskets early in the game. Still, he was better last night then he has been lately.

  • SpursSur

    David Lee prefers to be on top 10 plays than wining championships, too much TV can do you harm!!

    “Splitter needs to learn how to finish much stronger around the rim. He is a young 7 footer. Should have some more slams in peoples faces.”

    I don’t think that is going to happen soon, he’ got more of a FIBA style…maybe he’ll change that as his NBA career advances.

  • Manu A Manu

    As a Bay Area based Spurs fan (because it’s just been so hard to be a Dubs fan), I was pretty proud to see the crowd cheering for Timmy. Sure, it’s not like these teams are rivals in any sense, but I feel like if he’d been downed somewhere like Boston they’d probably have been booing.

  • Titletown99030507

    @jwalt, spot on with the Splitter remark. He looks like he needs to have bigger chunks of playing time in order to be more effective at least now in his first year coming from another league. And he’s starting to show some glimpses of what he’s really capable of. The good thing is he’s also crafty and is good at getting to the free throw line. As the season goes he’ll raise his free throw shooting % I would think… if he wants to keep getting time on the court. My bet is that most of his points will come from the free throw line and those pesky little put ins at the rim. (I wish he’d dunk) Also Timmy played like he had no pressure on him and was scoring at will with Dice and Splitter were on the court with him. Could be something there.

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  • junierizzle

    @maudean Robinson

    TP assists are up this year. He had 11 assists last night.

    What are you talking about????

    Im beginning to think that the people that want to TP traded, just hate the guy for some reason.

  • Nima K.

    As for RJ:

    I also think we dont need to worry that much about RJ. He seems to be playhing by (Pop’s) design and instruction. I agree that it’s probably more of the Spurs not involving Jefferson in the offense more than him struggling.

  • lvmainman

    Splitter missed 2 easy layins, including one incredible pass from Ginobili on a pick and roll. Splitter does need to finish stronger at the rim, but has a good knack of getting open in front of the rim on pick and roll. Gasol didn’t get it, until the Celtics beat him in the finals. I hope Splitter has a faster learning curve that being strong around the rim is critical. But, his FT stroke looks infinitely better. Splitter has lessened the hitch in his stroke. I have hope for the guy as long as he get 20 minutes a game for 3 or 4 game stretches.

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  • Dennis

    Kudos to the Golden State fans for the respect they gave to Timmy in yesterdays game. Classy. We’d do the same for their star. Doubt most others would.

  • AmyfromLA

    I agree about Splitter needing to finish stronger around the rim, but I also think he’s kind of nervous like how Blair use to be, trying to get rid of the ball quickly. Although, I think Blair did it so he wouldn’t get blocked, but sometimes he just straight out rushed it. So I think Splitter is doing the same thing. With more comfort and more trust from his teammates, I think he will fix that in due time. I agree with everyone about his FT. He’s shooting it a lot better. I use to cringe when he gets to the line because I know he will either miss one or both, but now I’m glad he’s getting those freebies because he seems to be shooting them with a whole lot more confidence! =)

    To me, it seemed like RJ started to go into a shooting slump after he missed those 2 dunks some games back. That could just be me. However, he’s not RJ 1.0 because his D is definitely better than last year, so even with RJ 1.5 or 1.7, he’s still a big help. Last night looked like he broke out of the slump so I think he’ll be ok. =) I think Manu broke out of his too! Yay! =)

    TP’s offense has been great, but it seems like he’s starting to regress a little with his D. I know he wasn’t a great defender, but he was making better progress this year. I think he needs to put more effort in it to help improve team D. We’re going to need it against better teams.

    Utah has been on a losing streak so I hope our boys are ready! They’re gonna be HUNGRY!!!

    I can’t say this enough, but I’m grateful that Timmy is ok. =) Do you guys think Pop will try to rest him a little in the next few games to err on the side of caution? I know last year Pop couldn’t rest him as much because of our record, but we have a nice cushion right now and it would be a nice time to rest Timmy.

    Go SPURS Go!!!!!! =)

    /* Sorry for the long comment*/

  • spursfanbayarea

    Surprised to see so many fellow bay area spurs fans who follow this blog and attended the game as well. Maybe next year we can get a 48 minutes of hell group seating and pre game happy hour.

  • mtk

    was at gsw game. filmed Duncan goin down.
    check it out:

    http://vimeo.com/19194956

    go spurs

    mtk

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