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.

  • Mike

    Saw Neo (Anderson) got a little more time tonight, any word on how he’s progressing?

  • Bruno

    Great game!!TP and RJ playing very well. Splitter doing everything, dunks, layups, hook, draws charges, good defense and the best thing is : TD was resting

  • GMT

    @Mike

    Mr. Anderson didn’t really have much of an effect last night. He was aggressive right off the bench attempting a lay-up, but was called for a charge. He didn’t get any looks after that, unfortunately. By that point in the game (garbage time), I wasn’t paying too much attention to our D, so I can’t comment on how he did there.

  • DorieStreet

    Copacetic; ‘old school’ slang used in the late 60′s and early 70′s. Very satisfactory; fine; acceptable. That’s TP- except for the 3 TOs. 17 total for the game but that’s to be expected for some that are getting extended time (Neal) and rare significant time on the floor (Splitter). Think about it Spurs fans- last April the team had to win 2 out of the last 3 regular season games to get 50 victories. Today, on the 5th day of February, the squad is only 8 games shy of 50 wins- after only 50 games. Savor this season over the Super Bowl weekend.

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  • Mark

    Any updates on Bonner?

  • Titletown99030507

    Finally, Splitter getting the burn he should be getting and it paid off huge. If this is any indication of how he plays with extended chunks of time on the floor maybe Pop can finally trust him on the court and hopefully he’ll reconsider and will have to produce more minutes for Splitter. That’s a good thing. That’s why he’s here. This guy ain’t afraid of nobody and will challenge the best. Look how he did with Bynum with just 5 minutes and now last night against Cousins. He practically took Cousins out of his game and cousins never recovered after that. He shocked the both of them. Look for more of this because this is just the tip of the iceberg for Tiago he knows he needs to get back to the form that he was when he was in Spain as an MVP and when he does watch out. This young core with more pickups in the next season such as (2nd round treasures) drafts, stashed away hopefuls such as Richards and DeColo this team could be scary good or at the very least continue to be competitive. But lets not get ahead of ourselves lets just enjoy this great team that we have. The future is looking mighty bright for a warm river parade come summer time.

  • http://www.anaheimamigos.com Anaheim Amigos

    The Spurs got ahead so quickly in this game. It’s not always easy to stay focused when you’ve played the whole game with a 20+ point lead.

    When SAC made a late run to get within 10 points, the Spurs did a great job of slamming the door shut.

    Manu’s 3/4-court bounce pass to TP was exquisite: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=61laeFo9BSc

  • td4life

    I hope that we will see more nights of increased minutes for Tiago from here on out, especially vs. the poorer teams and on back2backs, with or without Bonner on board.

    I’d also like to see Pop find some rest for our MVP, he seems to have lost a lot of efficiency for the last month or so, and I think that has a lot to do with fatigue… I think Anderson, Neal, and even Quinn could use the minutes and benefit from them.

  • Dr. Who

    Surprised no Splitter talk. I for one was happy there was no Laker hangover which is easy to have on the road. I told my viewing pals, “we should know if we’re going to win this game by turncoats qtr.” Meaning, if we came out flat it’s because it was a let down game after the Lakers. It’s a shame we could be 3-0 so far on tw rrt but I’ll take 2-1. Nice to see the team’s workman like attitude come out and take care of business. Oh yes and Tiago’s extended minutes were fantastic. Still no word on if he’ll become a part of the playoff rotation, but certainly his minutes now help the playoff cause with a more rested Duncan. What a difference a year makes.

  • The Beat Counselor

    I was at the game last night.

    Bonner was in his warm-ups and took shooting practice with Manu before the game. By game time, he was in a suit. Not sure what that means, but hopefully he’ll be back soon.

    Splitter shot two one-handed (no-guiding left hand) corner threes before tip-off and made both! Never seen an NBA player do this, but there was a kid at the community college that I interned at whose coach would make him take his free-throws like that in game to get him to concentrate on his shot more…

    Timmy didn’t play much, but looked like he was coaching DeJuan and Tiago a lot during the in-game breaks. Of course I couldn’t actually hear what he was saying so maybe he was just feeling especially chatty :)

    It was my first time at Arco Arena (I live WAY closer to Oracle). Its got an old school feel to it, really nice employees (even though they told me as I was going in that I wasn’t allowed in because I was wearing a San Antonio Basketball tshirt), and there was an exorbitant amount of Spurs fans (especially David Robinson jerseys). The Robinson jersey I sat next to drove all the way from Orange County for this, his first Spurs game.

    Seats were super cheap too. $160 got me a seat 2 rows directly behind Malik Rose (who I guess is on the Rodeo Road trip in place of Sean?) at the announcer’s booth. The same seats at Oracle are upwards of $300. Closest I’ve ever sat to courtside.

    I talked to Malik after the game and asked him if DeJuan was him, 2.0. In true Spurs form, he was super humble and said that DeJuan was way better than him and continued to tell me about DeJuan’s work ethic.

    Gotta love it.

  • Bentley

    Splitter played fantastic defense on Cousins the entire night. It seemed to me as if Cousins thought he could just bully his way through Tiago and Tiago wasn’t having none of it. This failed attempt frustrated the hell out of Cousins and you could see it every time he tried to post up Tiago.

    That was the best part of the game for me

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

    Tiago baby,

    This was the best game yet for the big Brazilian. He was much stronger with his moves near the basket. His defense was very impressive. Oh yeah, that had to excite ever single SA fan out there.

  • Chris WAMBO

    Tiago rocked!
    RJ 2.0 was again shooting the lights out.

    Parker should have been All Star, maybe if we were in the East.

    Anyhow great game.

    GO SPURS GO

  • betsyduncan

    A great win last night! I wanted to say that this would be a blow-out, but didn’t want to jinx the guys. The reason I had a ‘feeling’ about the game going the way it did was because I felt like we ‘turned the corner’ with our win over the Fakers. Barring further injuries, I think that the sky is the limit for this team. And we still don’t have all of our horses yet! With Bonner back and contributing, Anderson getting back into his rythym and Splitter making strides (as his performance last night gave hopes of), I think that this team at full strength SHOULD give the rest of the league the shivers! GO SPURS GO!!!!!

  • TD = BEST EVER

    Great game all around – Tiago’s and even Parker’s best game so far. To all those who wondered what easy shots looked like, just look at the 4 or so buckets that Parker got TD/Blair/Dice in the game. All layups and Dunks. This is what LA’s has been getting this year. SO we need more games like this where even if he has low assist totals, they are of the easy basket variety. Splitter looked good in his extended minutes. Would have to see him against a better team to really get an understanding of how good he can be. But hopefully this can get him more minutes in a close game. Glad to see TD get his few buckets and then get some rest.

  • mk

    I know it may not be a popular decision, but now is the time in the season to sacrifice a few wins by cutting Manu and TD’s minutes down to 20 or so, and give Blair, Splitter, Neal, and Anderson more critical roles. That would probably mean giving up on the attempt for 70 wins. HCA in the West ispractically locked up, and HCA overall is likely, so dropping a few games to give Splitter and Blair some meaningful minutes would pay off in the playoffs. Right now, Splitter would be hard pressed to play in the playoffs.

  • junierizzle

    Glad SPLITTER got some more minutes. Just look at the 5 minutes against BYNUM. I know it was only 5 minutes but he totally shut him down.

    I know POP is probably thinking long term with him, but I think he can contribute this season.

  • Chris WAMBO

    mk we are far from securing home court for the whole playoff!

  • Chris WAMBO

    mk we are far from securing home court for the whole playoff!

  • TD = BEST EVER

    @ junierizzle

    “Glad SPLITTER got some more minutes. Just look at the 5 minutes against BYNUM. I know it was only 5 minutes but he totally shut him down.”

    you are right, but 5 min doesn’t mean a whole lot and last night Cousins was missing before Tiago got into the game, he was just BAD all night long. We need to see Tiago in more consistent and playing well against others who are playing well. But last night was a good step in the right direction.

  • Bruno

    @TD = BEST EVER when Splitter was in the floor for 5 minutes in first quarter against Cousins he draws one charge and Cousins made 1-4 from the field

  • TD = BEST EVER

    But what was Cousins Before – Like 0-2. So my point is he was already not playing well. So we need to see him come in and help out in a game like LA or Portland. He would have to play 15 min or so because 5 min is too little to do much of anything

  • lvmainman

    So, now I’m even more puzzled. Why didn’t Splitter play against the Trailblazers???

    He’s good enough to go against Bynum and Cousins, but not Aldridge? Huh? I don’t get it.

    Glad to see an easy win after a hard fought game. Laker win gave them some extra adrenaline I guess.

  • Ed

    I like what I’m seeing of Splitter lately. The extra time has smoothed out his game, slowed him down a bit shooting for example. Defensively he has been very good. Bynum couldn’t intimidate him, neither could Cousins. I think you’ll see tis continue from here on out. Splitter will be integral.

  • mk

    WAMBO-HCA in the western conference is pretty solid. HCA overall is likely. I am not talking about giving up a ton of games, I am recommending that for the next 15 game, Blair, Splitter, Hill, Anderson, and Neal get more minutes, while Manu, Duncan,and Dice’s numbers go down significantly. This should not cost the Spurs more than 3 or four games over a 15 game period (if that many), which would not jeopardize HCA in the West. Use the last 17 games of the season to get everyone into playoff form

    Overall, I think that having rested starters and a deeper bench would be more important than HCA in the finals.

  • DorieStreet

    @mk

    Echoing Chris WAMBO/ what you smokin’?/break down each race/ overall HCA: look @ top 4 east leaders’ schedule–Celtics, Bulls, Heat, Hawks all could go 9-3 or better in February. 1st 3 teams are 4-7 back of the Spurs. West HCA: Mavs back 7, Lakers 8 1/2. Dallas won 7 straight- just beat the Celts on the road-maybe ONE loss in Feb. (@ Nuggets)? Now the Lakers could have 4 losses on their road trip this month and be no threat for the top west spot.

    32 games are just too many for the Spurs to start coasting. Shave the number in half, then evaluate. At game #65–what have Spurs done/what is the div-conf-league margin respectively. Too many variables now.

    And- why do you put Blair in this equation? If he doesn’t get into foul trouble, is not overmatched, or plays badly, he gets minutes. For the others–

    I see Anderson getting his minutes from Manu. Bad decisions (TOs) and shot selection show his time needs to be curled back.

    At 29 minutes, Tim is find. If the squad handles the 2 SEGABABA

  • DorieStreet

    @ mk

    (hit wrong key) If the squad handles the Raptors & Wizards like they did last night (also SEGABABA), then Duncan again will only play a quarter or so.

  • DorieStreet

    @mk

    As for the Spurs schedule……..

    They need to clean up on the rest of this RRT; 8-0 after the 1st game loss—tough ‘get away’ game @ Bulls on national TV. But the team go six days without playing until the Thunder come to town. That is the 1st one in a 3-game homestand to finish out the month. If the record on March 1st is 51-8 or 50-9, a serious discussion on significant reduction time for the starters (except Blair) could start.

  • rj

    i agree with mk, but moreso at the guard position. anderson should get spot minutes to give manu a breather. i really think he’s tired. anderson is also capable of giving richard jefferson some rest as well. maybe in the FOGAFINI, we will see a little more of him. if we can get him near the level he was playing in the early part of the season, we are going to be better off in the playoffs with a paced ginobili going in

  • Bruno

    I agree with @lvmainman, Pop is crazy sometimes

  • TD = BEST EVER

    I think Tiago and others only need to give 10-15 minutes in any given game unless they are just on fire, we have enough at other places, TD/DICE will be on the floor during all important stretches. They just need a spell at the end of the 1st and start of the 2nd. And maybe a little time at the end of the 3rd depending on the score. Bonner/Blair will definitely get minutes and if either are playing well we may not see Splitter at all. I just want him ready to play the 10-15 minutes that we may need him during an important game.

    HCA is way too important to give up developing a player/players. Role players play better at hime than on then on the road. And Most rookies preform poorly the 1st time they get into the playoffs. So more than likely our bench will get used less and it will only be Splitter getting spot duty if we need a SPARK or something. So lets win as many as we can and we can coast the last 10 games or so if we have it all in the Bag

  • LPspursFan

    @ Titletown99030507

    News flash! This team is already scary good! And I say that Pop has done a fine job managing Tiago’s minutes and working him into the rotation after he missed all of training camp and pre-season. I actually wonder if you are a Spurs fan or just a Tiago fan following the Spurs because he has joined the team. No one player is above the team, and obviously, Pop knows that and has managed the players on the team very well.
    I’ve said it before and stand by it now; Tiago can come in during any game from here on out (yes, including playoffs) and be a sufficient, dependable backup for Timmy.
    I also think that with Anderson back, Pop can start watching Manu’s minutes. But I don’t think it needs to be anything drastic. He’s averaging 31.5 mpg, and I’d like to see him at 28 or 29, where TD is at.
    I’m also not comfortable with ASSUMING that we have HCA wrapped up until, like DorieStreet said, closer to the 65 game mark. That is, unless those in pursuit continue to fall to the wayside.
    A 4-game lead in the loss column over the Celtics with 32 to play is nice, but in no way is it a guarantee. Now, 7 over the Mavs and 8 over the Lakers is almost a guarantee. Dallas has 33 games left and the Lakers 32. If Dallas went 33-0, the Spurs could go 25-7 and still be tied. Now, I expect the Mavs to do no better than 27-6, which means Spurs could go 19-13. It’s pretty much a lock for HCA in the west. Sorry so long. GO SPURS GO!!!

  • Flavor

    Is anyone still wanting to trade Tiago???

  • TD = BEST EVER

    Depends on what we can get back for him. LOL. I still am not sold on him being anything other than a quality role player at best. Anderson is the ONLY role player we have in my opinion that has ALL STAR potential. And even that is going to be tough. So if we can get a younger big(Ed Davis, Greg Monroe) with more star potential. Or just another 21 year Old Project like Blair, as long as he is 6’10. I would take it. Biggest thing is that we do all we can to win it THIS year. And we can worry about the next generation when we get there.

  • mikrobass3

    sharing a quote from spurs.com:

    “Question: Hey Coach Pop, I know there was a lot of unfair expectations put on Tiago Splitter coming into this season. How do you feel he has handled the transition to the NBA?

    GP (Greg Popovich): He has done a very good job. He is a very frustrated player right now because he is not getting minutes. He comes in before and after every practice and works very hard. Missing training camp really hurt him, for a lot of reasons that are pretty obvious. He has been behind the power curve the entire year but he continues to work and we’re trying hard to find him minutes and hopefully he’ll be more of a significant factor by the time playoffs come.”

    tiago a significant factor for the playoffs? i like that idea.

  • Dr. Love
  • grego

    Awww.. I liked Owens.

  • Mk

    Doris,

    If you wait to rest the starters, it pushes us too close to the playlets. Plus, I want tongive Anderson and splitter a chance to audition for late season minutes. The sooner this happens, the better.

    Hca is nice, but health and depth are more important. Would rather take a small risk of losing hca if it improves the teams play in the playoffs

  • DorieStreet

    @ MK

    The plan of limiting players’ minutes from game 1 of the season has worked for the Spurs- I believe it is a factor (along with good fortune) in this team putting the same starting 5 every night. The last 32 games will provide plenty of opportunities to rest players within the flow of a contest. Exhibit A: last night’s game. (Surprisingly) quick strike that put the home team to sleep early- as a result, Duncan only logs 13 minutes. I’ll bank on the vast majority of players would say a few games off during the last 2 weeks of the season will do them a lot better -right before the playoffs start.

  • rob

    Great game. A b2b road win even against a not so formidable team is impressive.

    Go Spurs Go!

  • 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?

  • Bonner?

    Why are so many people loving Bonner this year?

  • spursfanbayarea

    So far the spurs have been doing a relatively good job managing minutes for Duncan and parker. But we have been actually playing ginobilli a few minutes too much so far. He is actually playing the most minutes of his career up to this point. I know he has previously come off the bench, but he also used to close out games and get his minutes. His career mpg is 28.1 and he is at 31.5 at this moment. The spurs have proven that they can win a lot of games over a short stretch. Key for the playoffs is making sure everyone is healthy and rested. Having home court advantage without health or rest will be useless. The playoffs are a grind and we need everyone to be as fresh as possible. To get a title there will be a minimum of 3 pretty tough series and even possibly 4 depending on the first round match up. If we were to play the blazers, they have historically given us trouble. Even if we can not develop other players for the rest of the season, their minutes will help keep our core rested and healthy. The big 3 when healthy have been impressive so far and I would like to see them be healthy for a nice and long run through the playoffs.

  • Titletown99030507

    @MK, I don’t see why he’s way better than Blair. Way better.

  • 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?

  • Titletown99030507

    @Doriestreet, “And- why do you put Blair in this equation? If he doesn’t get into foul trouble, is not overmatched, or plays badly, he gets minutes.

    He starts every game and gets significant minutes even if he does the above. If he does a crappy job which he’s had intermittently there’s never a dog house for him. What gives? I like Blair but not to start.

  • Titletown99030507

    @LPspursfan, News Flash! I’ve been a Spurs fan since the Dallas Chaparals turned into the Spurs when SwenNater, Billy Paultz, James Silas, and then Gervin came around. I’m not a transplant born and raised here and enjoyed all the Gervin years, Robinson years, Duncan Years and yes hopefully now Tiago Years. Yeah I’m a Tiago fan because I see a lot of upside in this dude and no I’m not a Blair fan. Got a problem with that? Don’t give me your Pop rhetoric and no I’m not a Pop fan either. Pop’s not perfect you should know that he’s been fortunate to have the big three but that unfortunately is coming to an end soon so its time to take advantage of personnel that can give you the best opportunity to win in the future as well as now. Just passionate about my spurs man. I have a right to be an armchair coach cuz that’s what everybody here pretends to be anyway. Why can’t It’s entertaining. And one thing that I have problem with Pop but have to live with is the fact he continues to believe that Blair is a starting center in this league. Uh he’s not but doesn’t want to admit it. He was wrong last year not playing Hill in that playoff series and admitted it this season. You member? Besides if Tiago proved he can ball and hold his ground against some very good bigs then why didn’t he play against Aldridge? Would have like to seen that. If he’s proved it than why continue with the Blair wish project? Somebody’s wires are crossed.

  • Titletown99030507

    @Flavor, good post. It’s those same people that trashed Tiago when he would play 2 minutes and say he sucked. Hello he plays 20 minutes or better and shows those same people he can ball and now are raising their eyebrows. all he needed was Blairs minutes. I hate band wagoners.

  • Titletown99030507

    @mikrobass3, good post Pop is reconsidering like a smart man. I can tell you where he can find some minutes for Splitter. “When the game starts”.