San Antonio Spurs 113, Sacramento Kings 100: With help from Splitter, Parker keeps Spurs copacetic

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So far as praise goes, there are a lot of words more flattering to a point guard than copacetic, but then, when it comes to giving praise to his own team, there are a lot more  liberal coaches than San Antonio Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich.

Still, when Popovich was asked about his star point guards performance after the Spurs 113-100 victory over the Sacramento Kings, his assessment was pretty spot on.

“Tony has been doing a great job of keeping everything copacetic,” Popovich said. “He is good in charge. He shared the ball, scored when we needed it. Again, tonight he gave us the energy to get us through the back-to-back.”

In a few weeks the San Antonio Spurs will send one of their largest contingents in recent memory to Los Angeles for the 2011 All-Star weekend. There are three participants in the Rookie-Sophmore game (DeJuan Blair, Gary Neal, and assistant coach Mike Budenholzer), three in the main event (Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili, and Popovich), and in all likelihood a player to be named for the three-point shootout (fingers crossed Matt Bonner).

Not making the return trip to California (unless you vote him in for the Skills Competition), Tony Parker made sure to leave a mark its residents could appreciate, following a masterful performance to down the All-Star host Los Angeles Lakers with a 25 point, seven assist night to put the Sacramento Kings down early. Tiago Splitter helped too.

Manu Ginobili gets the credit for being one of the best finishers in the NBA and (rightfully) the Spurs best player, while Duncan is lauded as the foundation for the team, but as Popovich stated, it’s Tony Parker that keeps everything copacetic.

More so than in any of his previous All-Star seasons, Parker is walking that fine line between distribution and scoring to near perfection most games, as he did last night. There has not been any specific improvement in his passing or court vision, but the decision making has been honed and the options around him vastly improved.

Of greater importance, as Popovich stated, Tony Parker is the legs that carries the Spurs so that Manu Ginobili and Tim Duncan can focus strictly on what Manu Ginobili and Tim Duncan do. So that on the wrong end of a back to back, on a random night in Sacramento, the Spurs had enough energy to take care of business without taxing Duncan (13 minutes) or Ginobili (26 minutes) too much.

Contributing to the cause of extending Duncan’s career, Tiago Splitter made another of his rare extended appearance, making the most of such minutes as he tends to do. Finding the numerous gaps in the Kings’ porous defense, finishing pick and rolls at the rim as Tim Duncan once did and Fabricio Oberto could only dream of doing.

More importantly, Splitter was able to move his feet and provide just enough resistance to help deter his rookie counterpart, the more physically imposing DeMarcus Cousins.

A Friday night in early February against a team like Sacramento will be long forgotten come Spring, but it is because performances like these on nights like last night that will have Duncan and Ginobili fresh enough to distract us from such performances.

  • Daniel T

    It’s interesting how some think that to be a “real Spurs fan” requires hating certain Spurs.

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

    trade TP… after a ring

    It doesnt matter how “bad” the Kings played. Tiago proved his worth during the game far and away outplaying McDyess.

    It’s interesting all the Spurs fans here now since we are winning.

    Too bad no one remembers, or knows, that BONNER is the worst in the NBA when it comes to the playoffs.

    Why cant “real” Spurs fans understand this?

    It is apparent to me that “real” Spurs fans would not be douchebags with “Trade TP….after a ring” in their blogger name, like you!

    Your previous blogger names of “Trade TP” and “Don’t Trade TP Yet” both exhibit lame attempts at humor and show a lack of support for this team and a lack of knowledge for how the team operates.

    Without TP, this team loses the motor that drives the team! The team heavily relies on TP to get into the paint and either score or kick to the open man. Manu may be the most exciting player we have, TD may be the foundation but TP is a key cog as well and anyone who can’t see that is a damn fool.

    As far as Bonner is concerned, I say let’s see what the dude can do THIS year, I mean, how many times did people say that the Spurs were 2 rounds and down until we got Timmy here? Give the Ginger the benefit of the doubt this year, perhaps it is his year to shine?

    And boy, what a short memory you have of McD – isn’t he the one who set up Neal’s awesome behind-the basket J to end the 1st quarter and scored the game winning tip-in against LA last Thursday?

    Seriously dude, get a life!

  • http://www.48minutesofhell.com Bry

    I think it is about earning your contract. If you get paid 10 million, then you should be earning it in both minutes and production. Bonner earns his contract, despite how furious some people on this blog were when he signed it. Yes, he sucked in the playoffs, but it’s not like he’s pulling in 6 million a year anyway. He’s a niche player, and he’s paid like a niche player. And he fills his roll outstandingly (isn’t he 2nd in the league in %?).
    Blair he woefully underpaid for what he produces (as are most players on rookie deals). Pop starts him for the chemistry and it works. It’s worked for 50 games. He doesn’t get starter minutes, but he starts the halves. Splitter is working his way up the rotation. It’s also working out well, so why all the hostility? Dice had a couple bad games, but that doesn’t make me forget the first 45 games of good play. Man, people here have short memories. The Spurs still have one of the deepest and multi-talented front-courts in the NBA. There are maybe two or three teams in the league that wouldn’t love to have our front-court ‘problems’.
    I can’t believe the Spurs are 42-8 and everybody is freaking out worse than last year at this time!

  • Titletown99030507

    @Daniel T, It’s not about hating certain Spurs to me its about trying to win championships. You can fall in love with your Spur but I’d rather win ships. Hate to tell you but Blair ain’t giving you the best opportunity in winning a championship. Haven’t you seen it by now. He starts and he sits. Its a broken record. He’s inconsistent. I’d rather have a bigger man and better defender to start my game and play significant minutes than screw around with a project center like Blair. If he’s so great then why doesn’t Pop leave him on the court when the opposing big is destroying him? Simple he can’t cut it. And if he’s going to keep experimenting with Blair in the Playoffs your asking for trouble. There’s no reason the Spurs can’t run with Tiago. It also gives you a better defender at the rim. He’s already showed it. I’m sticking to my opinion and you can stick with Blair at center and well see who comes out better. The playoffs let alone are a totally different beast than the regular season. Don’t expect to play your high powered offense (a la phoenix yesteryear) and leave your small center exposed. That just won’t cut it in the finals.

  • Daniel T

    In his two most recent playoff games, Bonner made 9 of 12 shots including 5 of 7 from 3 point range. Overall in the playoffs he had a few games where he did not score, mainly due to the fact that he had few shot attempts in limited minutes. He led the team in effective field goal %, which seems to be what you’d look for from him. Having the 7th highest salary on the Spurs roster last year, he played the 7th most playoff minutes, had the 7th most total points and 7th most rebounds. For players that played a total of more than 20 minutes for the entire playoffs, Bonner led the team in 3 point shots made per minute played. That would seem to show that he played his role rather well.

  • Titletown99030507

    @Daniel T, If it ain’t broke don’t fix it. That’s nice for now but I don’t want to see them using “fix it flat” when they’re knee deep in s**t in the playoffs because they invested all this time on Blair and made Tiago, Quinn’s talk buddy. It’s time to sit Blair and put Tiago where’s he’s supposed to be. Simple as that. Don’t worry about chemistry at this point they have plenty of that and adding Tiago to this rotation isn’t going to harm them if anything it will make them better. This guy wants major minutes every game so he can get back to that MVP play of his. All it’s going to take is the rest of the season. Do it now. Hope you can understand that focusing now on Tiago will be a better move for this team.

  • Daniel T

    Titletown99030507:
    “I’m sticking to my opinion and you can stick with Blair at center and well see who comes out better.”

    Actually all we can see is how things come out according to the way the Spurs play, we can’t explore alternative universes. I haven’t ever made a pick at center, Pop does that. He’s currently 42-8 in the regular season, and who knows what he’ll do the rest of the year. I’m a fan that cheers for the team regardless of Pop does. It seems that you might be rooting for Blair to do poorly so that you might feel that your opinion might be proven.

  • Bruno

    I agree with @Titletown99030507, is time to put Tiago, i don’t care if we lose 2 or 3 games with Splitter now and win in playoffs, because everyone knows in Playoffs Blair will be Blair and Bonner will be Bonner…I don’t want to see again the teams scoring fifty points in our paint

  • rob

    Being a fan (non fan) of a player can distort what is best for the team in terms of the team doing what is best for the team.

    I’m glad Pop has the overall decision in who plays and doesn’t play. Myself…I’ve seen Tiago as a disappointment in that he hasn’t been able to play more minutes than he’s already been playing and more so that he hasn’t developed into what was expected concerning his pedigree. But that has to be tempered with…I’m just a fan…and not an expert on player development.

    To garnish responses with “I told you so’s” because Tiago had a decent game against a poor interior team is not taking into account the real situation just as some who might say because he has a bad game against better talent to say he’ll never amount to anything.

    My guess…it’s all a process that the coaching staff is enduring as well as the player. Hopefully come playoffs (and barring injuries) what will be expected for the time played by any player will produce positive results and the occasional above what is expected performance that helps the team win it all.

  • TD = BEST EVER

    @ Titletown99030507

    “@TDbest ever, Cousins might have been missing before Tiago got a hold of him but he was still able to shoot over Blair before Tiago got in. Something we see a lot of. Take your pick what would you have a few rebounds and a dunk or consistent defense on the opposing big?”

    Its just 1 game people. Blair has had several good games as well. And his Defense is still not that good. So we will have to give it time and See what happens. And yes if in the meantime, if we can get younger or better we HAVE to look into it.

  • Titletown99030507

    @Daniel T, I guess you didn’t the entire post of mine. “Hope you can understand that focusing now on Tiago will be a better move for this team”
    “Team” being the beneficiary. The word team. OK.

  • Titletown99030507

    You call Bynum and Cousins poor interior? Seems like one of our bigs was able to handle them. And they are not on crappy teams. One may be an elite team but the other was beating elite teams. Ok Rob.

  • TD = BEST EVER

    @ Titletown99030507
    “”Hope you can understand that focusing now on Tiago will be a better move for this team.””

    This is only true if Tiago is as good as you think he is. I’m not as high on him as you are seeing as he hasn’t shown himself to be anything more than just another solid player, who is RIGHT NOW a Project.

    “You call Bynum and Cousins poor interior? Seems like one of our bigs was able to handle them. And they are not on crappy teams. One may be an elite team but the other was beating elite teams.”

    The LA game didn’t count for anything. 5 min isn’t enough time to really tell you anything. Just like when he only played 5 min and played poorly you said he needed more than 5 min to play well.
    So 5 min means nothing. Also Cousins was doing NOTHING before he came in. SO to that point Blair also LOCKED up Cousins. SO that still doesn’t mean that he is ready for more minutes than Blair.

  • Titletown99030507

    @TD best ever, No its not one game try the other 2 Pop let him play more than 20 min. one was Denver and the other was Cleveland. Nice games for the big guy. One thing I noticed however is that Splitter tends to play well when he’s contributed 15 or more minutes on the most part which is not very often in terms of time. Although he did do well in 5 minutes against Bynum recently. So maybe he’s catching up on the curve with everybody else. Either way its good for the team. We all know what Blair’s game is and it fits for certain circumtances. He brings good energy , in your face rebounds, and the ocassional dunk which is exciting but unfortunately he gets caught up in the foul thing and can be exploited when being shot over (easy baskets by the opposing big I’ve seen this too much). Splitter and Blair are both good players but I still prefer height at that position. Well if they don’t need to worry about defending the rim too much then use Blair in the high powered offense that we are accustomed to. I guess we can save Splitter for those times that we need help defending the rim. If it was me I’d just opt to start Splitter and not worry about who’s coming into the paint. The other 4 on the floor can go point crazy

  • Titletown99030507

    @DanielT, I don’t need to prove anything to you or anybody in regards to my posts. I don’t care if you agree with me or not and I’m surely not banking on one of our own to do poorly just to prove a point. That’s just plain wrong. All I want is my team to make the needed final adjustments before we go into battle for that 5th trophy. And you will see down this stretch this team will change somewhat slightly. And I said slightly. So don’t post me saying that I’m trying to break up chemistry. These guys are professionals and already know at this point how good they are with each other and they very well know they can handle one more guy to the mix. If they can’t accommodate one more player on the floor with them then they have problems. But I don’t believe this to be the case so we’ll be fine when Tiago comes into his MVP Spanish league form come playoff time. Oh but he’ll need his minutes to get there. And no I’m not talking about NBA MVP form. Let’s take one thing at a time.

  • TD = BEST EVER

    @ Titletown99030507

    “@TD best ever, No its not one game try the other 2 Pop let him play more than 20 min. one was Denver and the other was Cleveland. Nice games for the big guy.”

    DJB has had 5 or 6 good games as well. What has that proven. Nothing. He can/will still have stinkers. And also notice who those teams were. 3 of the worst Defenses in the League.

  • TD = BEST EVER

    Having said all this I wouldn’t mind seeing Splitter get more minutes just to see what he can do. But if he isn’t playing well you have to pull him. There are only 3 players on this team that SHOULD get steady minutes and Rj is a close 4th. Everyone else, I ride the hot hand.