San Antonio Spurs 117, Oklahoma City Thunder 104

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With a little over a minute left in the first quarter, the San Antonio Spurs trailed the Oklahoma City Thunder by 12. And then they started to adjust, and simply make baskets. The Spurs kept the game close until halftime, and then blew the contest open behind Matt Bonner’s hot hand (7-7 3pt, 21 points) and terrific second half team defense. Between the end of the first quarter and the final buzzer, San Antonio slowly, methodically wore the Thunder down with crisp offensive and defensive execution, coming away with a convincing 117-104 victory. A few brief thoughts:

  • This was the Spurs’ first victory of the season against a quality opponent. Their 8-1 record is difficult to gauge given the Spurs’ favorable schedule. Still, this was an impressive win.
  • DeJuan Blair and George Hill have played poorly to begin the season, but both players are looking more comfortable in their role as starter and sixth man, respectively. Blair finished with 9 points and 11 rebounds in 16 minutes of play. Hill’s stat line is deceptive. He shot a woeful 1-10, finishing with 6 points and 5 assists. But his game leading plus-19 and 32 minutes of play were earned because of solid defense. The Spurs’ second half defense was anchored by Hill, who was the best defender on the court for most of the game.
  • The Spurs have scored 340 points in their last three contests. That’s a little different, right?  But here’s where it gets weird: in those three games, Tim Duncan has only scored 19 points. Yeah, that’s right. 19. It’s true that the Spurs have had the luxury of resting Duncan due to large second half leads, but it’s also true that the Spurs did not power ahead of their opponents behind Tim Duncan’s offense. In fact, Duncan is 7-23 in the aforementioned games. The Spurs are getting offense from most of their roster (hooray!),  but not from Tim Duncan.  Let me play the optimist and say this is a great development. You can debate it amongst yourselves.
  • The Spurs’ offense began the season in high gear, and it continues to motor along. Their team defense, on the other hand, started slowly but is noticeably on the rise.  Whatever Gregg Popovich is saying at halftime is working. San Antonio has outscored their previous two opponents by 30 points in the third quarter. The Spurs threw a blanket over their opponents in those games. And it wasn’t just the rah-rah, go-team group approach–several Spurs have played impressive individual defense. Namely, Tony Parker, George Hill, Richard Jefferson, Tim Duncan, Antonio McDyess, and Tiago Splitter. And the entire roster is putting forth good defensive effort. Gary Neal, for example, is never going to wear the defensive stopper label. But he’s tough, and his contribution helps the whole. Here’s an early season prediction: we’ll spend quite a bit of time prior to the All-Star break mulling over San Antonio’s sudden offensive prowess, but by April most of our oohing and awing will be reserved for San Antonio’s defense. One can already sense a juggernaut taking shape.
  • Gregg Popovich probably won’t win coach of the year, but he has my vote. I’m not sure what Popovich and the other Spurs coaches did with Richard Jefferson this summer, but someone should place big piles of praise outside their office doors. The time Popovich put in with Jefferson is more important than any single X or O scribbled so far this season. Richard Jefferson only had 18 point on 5-11 shooting against the Thunder, but he got to the line 7 times, and his defense on Kevin Durant was noteworthy. In short, he looks like a different player, and his play is probably the most crucial component of San Antonio’s 8-1 record. This, I think, is the mark of great coaching. That is, getting the best from one’s players. And, in this case, the coach transformed the player at a time better suited for vacationing.
  • Finally, isn’t it great to have Matt Bonner back? He breaks off plus-10 before most people wake up in the morning. Matt Bonner makes the Spurs a dangerous team. Don’t kill the messenger.
  • Gomezd

    I was unlucky enough to not be able to watch the game and had to settle for nba.com play by play, and everytime I saw Bonner 3pt Shot: Made It made me smile :)

  • grego

    RJ’s defense and Bonner’s shooter are what make me happiest about this game. With that said, the other Spurs like Hill didn’t give up despite the horrid shooting night he had.

    RJ will never be Bowen, but he’s definitely looking like a suitable option for a wing defender. Heck, he played the 4 in a lot of their small ball and did well enough.

    And Bonner has benefited the team in two straight games. Gives them more options when guys like Blair and Splitter get in foul trouble while still giving some time for Dice and TD to rest.

  • Hobson13

    There were a lot of takeaways from this game.
    *First of all, our defense got MUCH better in the second half while our offense continued to roll. We gave up 35pts in the first quarter, but only 38 pts in the entire second half. Westbrook and Durant were held to subpar shooting nights.
    *Welcome back Bonner! The good thing about this year is the fact that we won’t have to rely on Matt every single game. He can have games like this and then turn around and go 1-6 from 3 and get scored on every trip down the court. Now, if he if the latter is occurring, we can pull him in favor of Splitter or Blair.
    *If our defense will continue to get better we will be tough. I’m not sure if we can play with the Lakers, but then again, I was halfway expecting us to get blown up tonight.
    *Last year, we would have folded (for some unknown reason) after when we got down by 12pts in the first half. This year, we have the depth (with Blair, a new RJ, and Hill) to fight back and win by 13 when being down by 12.
    *We have a legit shot to start the season 9-1 as opposed to last year’s 4-6 start. This will be a huge difference later in the year when we aren’t 7th seed and attempting to improve our seeding situation.
    *Good job, Spurs. This was our biggest win of the season!

  • BrazilSpursFan

    I was lucky enough to be at the game (I am going to school in OKC) and every time Bonner hit a 3pt i yelled very loudly in the ears of the Thunder fans in front of me! = )

  • td4life

    Great second half D by the Spurs. 48 minutes of team effort, but give RJ the game ball, fantastic hustle… I’m about 4 more games away from writing RJ a written apology. If Bonner can continue to shoot 100% from distance, I’ll send him a fruit basket as well!

    Also, way to make them pay at the stripe, love that.

    Great game!

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

    “Finally, isn’t it great to have Matt Bonner back? He breaks off plus-10 before most people wake up in the morning. Matt Bonner makes the Spurs a dangerous team. Don’t kill the messenger.”

    Can’t argue with this comment, at least for today. Great game Matty! Go Spurs Go.

  • Greyberger

    Bonner’s return has seemed to give the team a boost. Pop has a lot more options with the frontcourt now, and the flexibility lets him out-strategize coaches with a more limited roster.

    I shouldn’t bring up this next topic without the space or place to discuss it, but here goes. The Spurs are transitioning away from a team reliant and focused on Tim Duncan to something else, right now. This is despite the fact that both subjectively (to me) and statistically (from several different measures) Duncan was the most productive and important player we had last season, and of course all the previous seasons.

    It’s not hard to remember a time when the offense was through Tim first and screen and roll second. _the play_ used to be set up Duncan on the post and cut through so he can work. With the maturation of Parker and Manu it changed, screen and roll became the play with Duncan as the Yin part of that and the second option with his post game. In last season and this one, we’re seeing the guard’s role in the offense increase and other bigs getting the SnR (or pick and pop for McDyess) called for them, even if Tim is on the court.

    Part of this is Blair just fell into our laps, and without access to the synergy numbers on it I still bet you he rates very well in the SnR. We’re transitioning the Tim Duncan out of the Tim Duncan play.

  • grego

    ^Duncan will be back, when the post season run comes. However, the longer you can shield him from the banging, the better off he is for the post season.

    Bonner’s biggest asset is taking away minutes from Dice and Duncan. Once Splitter is up to task, Pop can utilize Splitter/Blair/Bonner and remove minutes from Duncan/Dice. This is a nice option.

  • ThatBigGuy

    Great game tonight. Our depth is outstanding and we have such unique talent sets to work with. We have a brutal few weeks coming up, but I’m much more confident with this test passed.

    I love me some Bonner.

  • Jason

    As someone who has defended Matt Bonner time and time again on this and other forums, I have to say that tonight feels real good. I’m happy for the Ginger. He’s like the Jackie Robinson of Gingers, proving the haters he belongs in the pros by letting his game speak for itself. There are those who said a Ginger didn’t belong in the big leagues. That Gingers’ lack of athletic ability meant they could never compete at the top level. Well tonight the melotonic barrier was shattered. Yes, he’s yet to perform like this in the playoffs, but you have to admit that he’s never performed like this in the regular season either. He’s got another year of experience under his belt and he’s due for a good playoff performance.

    @Greyberger
    November 14th, 2010 at 8:51 pm

    I’m for the team becoming less Duncan dependent. If we can win on most nights “without” Duncan – and by that I mean without him really breaking a sweat – then he’ll be a fresh boost come playoff times to help push us over the top. If we can become a top seeded playoff team “without” Duncan, then we’ll be a championship team with him performing at his best.

  • B Burke

    That was a great second half, all around. I don’t think an NBA team should depend on the 3 as a matter of course, but what the heck. When you play good defense and rally like that, you might as well ride the red hot rocket.

    I thought I should mention that Tony Parker looks great so far. An explosion of guard talent in the last five years combined with TP’s poor health and subsequent drop in production has rightfully cut him out of the running before this season. But he’s beating guys up and down the floor again, shooting pretty well, and most surprising of all, making timely passes to open men.

    This is great news, especially now that he’s starting with Manu and RJ. He can tear up the zone and exploit aggressive defenders, and if he can’t beat his man he’s got at least two guys on the floor who can either hit open shots or drive. If he keeps this up all season I think he’s a top 5 PG again, and I think he’s been working hard for that recognition in spite of the injuries these past few seasons.

    I don’t mean to slight RJ’s major contributions so far, but Tony is driving this offense and I think it’s important to recognize his return to form in addition to the wetness of our young shooters.

    To be sure, I miss RMJr. a little bit too, I hope he’s doing well (with the Knicks?)

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  • AmyfromLA

    i yelled louder with each bonner 3!!! =P glad we got this win. can’t wait for the game vs bulls! also, yay for improved defense in the 2nd half! =)

    btw, lakers lost to the suns!!!! =) today’s been a great day! =)

  • New York City

    I only got to look at the stats for this game, and one thing concerns me: we only shot 40.9% overall. Meanwhile, we shot an unbelievable 55% from behind the arc.

    It doesn’t take a rocket seismologist to put two and two together: we won this game in large part because of some insane 3-pt shooting. That’s not to take away from a great defensive effort (that’s what I gather from everyone’s comments–again, I didn’t get to watch the game), but I think the following is a valid point to consider: what will happen if we were to meet OKC in the playoffs?

    We all know 3-pt shooting runs hot and cold. Some games it’s there, and some games it’s just not for no rhyme or reason. Could we win a 7-game series against OKC without relying on 3-pt shooting?

    Not if we’re shooting 41% overall. For all the praise of our defense tonight, I still see that we allowed the Thunder to shoot 45.2%, while we only managed 40.9%, and that’s including a rick-diculous 55% from downtown.

    Just something to think about. Twawk amongst yourselves.

  • B Burke

    I mean it’s pretty obvious that 3 pt. shooting is an unsustainable offensive strategy unless you’re playing for the NIT crown or trying to beat the Spurs in the conference semifinals. But it’s something we’re good at right now, and if it helps win games while our very raw team defense jells, I have no complaints.

    RJ, James Anderson, Gary Neal and (as of tonight) Matt Bonner have all been getting wide open looks. They should take those shots whenever they’re available. For whatever reason, opposing defenders have tended to sag on shooters or come under screens so far this season and you have to be able to make them pay. If the Spurs were popping up prayers in transition it would be one thing, but these are legitimate, open shots. Otherwise those guys are just wasting space on the court.

    Obviously Manu is exempt from this discussion and is free to chuck em up at will, at the top of the clock, on the break, while doubled, etc.

  • td4life

    each of our bigs took advantage of playing off of duncan in several of their big plays when the game was still close… i think we agree that the spurs will rely on td in playoffs as much as is neccessary. Pop does seem to be playing a great game of chess this season managing minutes to win the war, and if we keep improving, the battles too.

    Tony is doing his thing alright, but I wouldn’t say that he’s better than RJ or Manu. It’s starting to remind me of Larry Brown’s championship Pistons (only better), just such a team effort. Dice doesn’t look ready for retirement to me, maybe he’ll look to play out his contract. The overall chemistry is really great, especially regarding RJ’s key place on the team. So radically different from last season. In terms of the turn-around, the bench is a big part of it, but RJ is really making them a different team… I gotta believe that the whole team is giving it up to him after these wins. He was awesome tonight. He won’t make the all-star team ahead of melo, dirk, durant, maybe milsap or randolf, but he’s right there with our all-star caliber players… what a great mix of talents. I’m starting to let go of the aching in my heart left behind by bruce bowen… just starting to, anyway.

    Matt Bonner… I have to wait and see, but he’s a hard working guy. I always wondered why guys coming back from injury don’t always have a beautiful looking stroke, and increased FT accuracy. Looks like big red came to play, put in some work to vindicate himself. To that point, I know James Anderson has a new born, but I hope he’s doing some quality homework as well.

  • SpursfanSteve

    I sat next to BrazilSpursFan at the game. It’s true. Everytime Bonner launched, we knew it was good. There was much yelling and high fiving.

    And for all the praise his offense is getting-and since i was at the game, i’m not sure how it looked on TV- his defense has been just as solid. He had a couple deflections, and even when the Thunder went super small Bonner was one of our better defenders in one of our best defensive outings of the season. He did an excellent job staying right in front of whoever he was guarding (and frequently it seemed to be James Harden), and forcing either a tough, off balance jumper, or a long contested two. His box score will never show his defensive skills, but he did an excellent job tonight. His play was a HUGE part of us coming from behind. I dont know if he came in while we were down 12 or 5 (for most of the first half it seemed like we were bouncing between the two with no inbetween), but the lineup with him and Blair seemed to give the Thunder all kinds of problems.

    In a playoff series against the Thunder, we win in 6. They dont have the balance to beat us. Kristic shot out of his mind tonight (and frequently was making long distance two’s over Duncan), Green played well, and Ibake has improved quite a bit. I dont know what their lineup needs. Their bigs arent phenomenal, but they are solid. Their team, though, as a whole just feels like it is missing *something*.

    In response to New York City,

    I think they are counting missed tips in the fg%. I wouldnt worry about that stat tonight. In addition to the missed tips, Manu missed 3-4 layups I think he would usually make. Manu, Duncan, and Hill all had off shooting nights.

    We’re also 8 games in, and shooting almost 50% from 3 for the season (without looking I think its around 45%), even with one of our best 3 point shooters (Hill) in a funk. I dont think we have to worry about that percentage ever dropping below 40 for the season, barring major, major injuries.

    Basically, we’ve got SO MUCH firepower. It really is impressive.

  • B Burke

    The way Red Rocket shoots makes me think he sees his arms as a mortar and calculates the appropriate angle relative to distance and wind velocity in advance of every shot.

  • td4life

    NYC,

    we had two long field goal dry spells, one pretty early in each half. To start the game, OKC didn’t miss for awhile, but the Spurs kept it from looking too scary because we were drawing fouls on almost every offensive posession. And we were hitting all our free throws! Our first 3 points were manu going 3 for 3 from the line and we kept at it until somebody finally found the net. That had a big impact on the low FG% for the night. I think in the PO, we would be more aggressive and finish more often for the “and 1″.

    In the second half drought, a little bit into the 3rd period, OKC wasn’t doing much better than we were, and our defense was starting to really come alive. The 3s were timely and beautiful, no doubt and repeatedly put a wet towel on their emotional momentom, but we sure didn’t look like a Raptors team on a good night, rest assurred of that much at least.

  • http://nbamatchup.com/ Chris in Phoenix

    @BrazilSpursFan

    Ain’t it great to watch a game in enemy territory? And by where I’ve lived, these last 6 years have been great! I was at many of those Western Conferance Finals and Semi-Finals games. I could have done without last year’s early exit though!

  • Pop-a-vich

    that was like 48 minutes of hell!!!

  • Hobson13

    I know I’m stating the obvious, but our offense has been lights out this year. Here is a quick comparison between this season and last.

    FT shooting
    2010 2009
    77.8% (13th in league) 74% (24th in league)

    3pt shooting
    2010 2009
    42.7% (1st in league) 35.8% (11th in league)

    PPG
    2010 2009
    107.9 (3rd in league) 101.4 (15th in league)

    FTA/Game
    2010 2009
    25.9 (14th in league) 24.0 (tied 18th in league)

    Points per shot
    2010 2009
    1.3 (3rd in league) 1.25 (tied 10th in league)

    Although it’s still early in the season, it’s clear to see that we are shooting much better from both the FT line and 3pt line as well as getting to the stripe a bit more often. Let’s hope these trends continue.

  • http://nbamatchup.com/ Chris in Phoenix

    As someone who always bashed Bonner in every Spurs forum on the web, I gotta say wow! Great performance tonight Matty! Check out these stat lines I just pulled from online about 2 players I’ve been saying we should’ve kept over Red Rocket! Guess that’s why R.C. Buford’s in charge of the Spurs and I work at the real-life basis for the movie “Office Space”!

    Ian Mahinmi #28 C
    2010-11 STATS
    0.4PPG 0.8RPG 0BPG

    Pops Mensah-Bonsu #44 C
    2010-11 STATS
    0.4PPG 2.2RPG 0BPG

  • B Burke

    LOL you thought Pops Mensah-Bonsu was better than Matt Bonner

  • td4life

    SpursfanSteve,

    I agree that OKC is missing something, and to me it’s pretty obvious what. With their guard situation, they don’t do a great job of running a the offense. Westbrook is a tough mathchup, he has a good two-man game in Durant, and both those guys do a good job of finding the shooters, but it’s just sort of half-baked without a true point guard or manu-type playmaker. Someone like Hedu or Diaw would help them. If they want to build with youth, they should consider trading for Terrence Williams maybe. Easist fix is to slide Westbrook to the 2. That said, Ibaka is frightening. Soon enough he will take over starter’s minutes, he does so much when he’s on the floor. He’s a monster. They have the makings of a big 3 that can just cause a hell of a lot of trouble, it just needs some glue.

    2 random comments

    Some have said that the way the game is called these days, that defense is less of a factor. I disagree, but one thing that is always important is hitting your free throws. I would take a lot of satisfaction in the Spurs being able to win some tough games at the line, and improve to a top 8 team in FT%.

    Once again, we are good coming out of time-outs and the half-time break. Mental toughness, and good coaching!

    8 – 1! Let’s rest up and get those Bulls.

  • andy

    we were shooting 42.7% from distance, but after tonight we pushed it to 44%. i think, as others here seem to, the fears of relying on 3s is premature, as we haven’t revved up duncan yet (i love that we’ve been able to rest him).

    SpursfanSteve
    November 14th, 2010 at 10:30 pm
    “Basically, we’ve got SO MUCH firepower. It really is impressive.”

    i really think this is one of the amazing early trends of the season; we all knew we’d have to rely on duncan less and less, but how many of us thought we could win without his scoring this soon? truly heartening for the future of the spurs.

    otherwise, really encouraging win, and honestly, i don’t think our defense is that far away. we’re still allowing the least free throws in the league (no big surprise), but by my eyes, it looks like we’re forcing more turnovers than the past few years.

    as jim said in the last post, we’re 8th in defensive rating, which ain’t bad. there’s 5 teams that rank in the top ten in both offensive and defensive rating: heat, bulls, lakers, hornets, and us. the celtics and, surprisingly, pacers are not far off, but you look at a list of title contenders, and aside from the pacers, that’s not far from the entire list.

    “Gregg Popovich probably won’t win coach of the year, but he has my vote.”

    at the beginning of the year, we weren’t on that list, and to be honest, a lot here weren’t sure if we would even challenge, but you have to give it to pop in this early going. he’s doing a heck of a job reviving hope for a 5th title.

  • mac

    Monty Williams will get coach of the year… and be out of a job in two seasons.

  • stephen

    If we can continue to play D like we did in the second tonight, we’ve got a serious shot at enjoying some summertime basketball! This team has some mojo working and it’s not all on Tim’s back. Great team win!!

  • Manolo Pedralvez

    This spread-the-wealth San Antonio squad, indeed, has all the makings of a fifth-championship team, and once the defense really picks up, look out everybody out there! – Lakers, Celtics, Heat, not necessarily in that order, included.

  • SpurredOn

    Enjoyed the Ginger attack. Enjoyed even more seeing the team respond to an early road deficit by matching bucket for bucket, then turning on the defense and running right by the home team. You’d have thought the Thunder were the team playing a back-to-back.

    The emphasis on pushing the ball for easy scores continues to pay off. So many guys look confident in their shot and know that more open looks will be coming. It also means that coming back from a big deficit doesn’t have to be a game long grind.

  • Tim in Surrey

    @Jason – Hey, I’m as happy for the ginger-haired folks as the next guy. But Matt Bonner as the Jackie Robinson of Ginger? I think you may have forgotten a Deadhead named Big Red…

  • Tim in Surrey

    @New York City – A “rocket seismologist”? I know rockets vibrate a lot at liftoff, but it still doesn’t seem like a profession that would draw the finest minds… In other words, it’s not like it’s brain burglary.

  • Tim in Surrey

    I’m with mac: With all due respect to Pop, Monty Williams has been the coach of the year. By a mile. It takes a lot of huevos to bench Marcus Thornton for Marco Bellinelli AND Willie Green in order to improve your team’s defense. Amazing job and kudos to Dell Demps as well. The really scary part? They’re not satisfied with the 8-0 start:

    http://probasketballtalk.nbcsports.com/2010/11/10/report-hornets-looking-at-trades-even-called-about-iguodala/

  • rob

    Finally got to watch a whole game front start to finish. And it was (in the first) when it was making go…Oh No, Not Again, Like Last Year.

    And great observations by all. It makes this site one of the best for seeing perspectives that one might not always see or be in tune to looking for.

    A little on what some haven’t responded to yet.

    I agree about Hill’s defense. Even though he got tagged on a couple of questionable calls. And there were plenty to go around in that game. He kept up the intensity and didn’t back down.

    And that’s what I liked about Tiago tonight though he had 3 fouls in 2 minutes. The bogus calls he received (especially the blocking foul that should have been a charge on Durant) didn’t make him stop playing intense D. And that ‘s when it seemed the team started playing better defense. I don’t know if that was a rallying moment for the team…but it sure seemed like it.

    The play of Gary Neal is a much welcomed site. This kid is for real. And though he’s not a lock down defender…he’s been playing some tenacious defense himself. Neal was a great complement out there tonight. And I’m sure he’s only going to get better.

    If they can keep this up, the excitement (and expectation) level is only going to grow.

    I’m trying my best to temper that within myself and not allow the wins or losses to mean too much at this time. But that giddy feeling. That level of expectation one might have. That’s getting harder to control with each game being played.

    And that’s what I’m liking so far about this year. That and Duncan actually being allowed to play limited minutes and still able to win without having to go through him. One of the most balanced team the Spurs have put together in a long time.

  • ITGuy

    Go Spurs Go!!

  • Hicksman

    Great win SPURS, let keep the momentum going. The defense is a pleasure to watch form, happy to see the red rocket hit his shots but stil don’t want to see him out there for more than say 10 mpg it’s a match up/game decision thing really. for me the development of Splitter and Hill is paramount these are the guys who are goin to rest the big 3 need to keep leads etc with the hot hands of Neal/Anderson (Booo for hs injury) and now Red lets ride em while they last!!!
    GO SPURS GO!!

  • ITGuy

    All Bonner haters, please stand up and be counted!!

    Go Spurs Go!!

  • agutierrez

    What I’m liking most about this team recently is the throwback to our championship teams, especially the ’05 one. They’d keep it close until half time and then in the second half they’d just slowly, methodically turn the defensive screw ever tighter until they just sucked the life out of the opponent. Last night it was palpable as the Thunder just got more and more discouraged with each possession until you could tell they just said, “fuck it” and gave up. You could see it in their faces and in their body language. That’s Spurs basketball. Friday against Utah should be real test as they’ve been relying on fourth quarter comebacks.

  • http://nbamatchup.com/ Chris in Phoenix

    @ mac

    Ha! I totally agree about Monty! Just like Avery Johnson and Mike D’Antoni and other coaches who aren’t as smart as Popovich who hasn’t won NBA Coach of the Year!

  • DC Spurs

    I know we’re only 9 games into the season, but you have to be excited and proud when you look at the standings and see the Spurs with the 2nd best record. They were 4-5 last year. We’ll be even stronger when James comes back.

    @agutierrez
    I agree about Utah. It will be a great test and I hope the Spurs can shut them down. Keep it up!!

  • rj

    ohh, matt bonner. this love hate relationship is killing me. so where do we find minutes for tiago? keeping dice on the bench? our front court is crowded with versatility. this is a problem, but certainly not a bad one.

  • Bankshot21

    I jumped straight to type my comment before reading the 30+ left prior to mine. This game was great. Held KD to 23….we broke his streak of 25+ points last season I believe. We guard him better than most teams. Jim….your boy is looking GREAT out there. His style of play will garner him fouls but I’d rather that than him shooting 15 footers. Red Rocket was even more impressive than your boy Blair. So it goes to show your assessment can be hit or miss. Yes it’s a young season but we wouldn’t be fans if we didn’t speculate early and often. TD looks ok 2 me. Just not needed and that’s a GOOD thing. Hurting my fantasy team but my Spurs fandom out ranks fantasy. TP is looking unstoppable out there in my opinion. He looks slightly slower but his IQ paired with his still above average speed has him looking elite.

  • doggydogworld

    “the melotonic barrier”

    That’s just all kinds of awesome.

    Fun game to watch. Wouldn’t have been so fun without the Rocket’s Red Glare, but I won’t complain. I loved the 24 Minutes of Hell. Looking forward to seeing it stretch to 36.

  • Bankshot21

    Suprisingly no one has yet to mention the game changing spark that Blair provided in the opening minutes of the third quarter before picking up his fourth foul. He was gobbling up boards, getting steals, and And 1’s.

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  • idahospur

    What is really great to see, we have 3PT shooters! Yes, I used the plural form of shooter. Having multiple guys that are making shots from outside (Bonner, RJ, Manu, Neal, Anderson) makes it so we don’t have a single-dimension player with 4 others trying to make 3’s but can 5 studs on the court.
    It’s good to see Duncan not need to score. With other teams with dominant big men (Lakers) we need Duncan to worry about playing defense and getting rebounds. Let Kobe chase our scorers around the court wondering who will make the shots. Just stay rested and stay healthy Spurs!

  • ThatBigGuy

    1. We only had 12 turnovers last night. Yay!

    2. We still only shot 41% from the field, which would have affected us had we not shot 55% from 3’s. Blair, Ginobili, and Hill combined to shoot 9-35 (26%), although they shot a collective 16-17 from the free throw line.

    3. I’m still not ecstatic with Blair’s shot selection (by my count he got blocked 3 times), but he’s rebounding much better, and had 7 offensive boards in 16 foul trouble shortened minutes. That’s his game, no need to take Ibaka 1-on-1 all the time.

    4. Someone stated on here that they were encouraged my the way Splitter continued to be aggressive even though he had 2 fouls early. I agree. He needs to stay aggressive until Pop pulls him, not matter how many fouls he has.

    5. Ibaka looks like Mutombo 2.0. The guy is a complete freak. He’s shooting 83% free throws on the year, too.

    6. RJ did a solid job on Durant last night.

    7. I’m not worried about Timmy’s output the past few games. As long as he can get a few reps to keep sharp, he’ll be ready to go for a long playoff run.

    This was a quality win against a quality opponent. We beat a super athletic team and now we get the super disciplined Jazz. It will be a contrast in styles but I’m confident we’ll do very well.

  • The Beat Counselor

    Just to add to the discussion…

    – Great that we were able to have Timmeh play both back to backs. I’m all for us having him be our defensive anchor and having the rest of our team carry the offensive load, especially during the season.

    – As everyone’s mentioned, Tony’s playing as well as he’s ever had and he seems to be seeing the court better as well. Defensively, it also seems to be able to see the passing lanes better and seems to be able to get more pesky steals than usual.

    – Is it me or does it seem like whenever Gary Neal is on the floor (whether he’s hot from outside or not) just seems like he’s EVERYWHERE? I really like this guy’s energy, a true spark plug off the bench.

    – Body language wise, it actually seems like the everyone likes RJ this year. Couldn’t say that last year, except for maybe Manu.

    – Love our ball movement this year, and the fact that Neal and Anderson (ugh) can both handle the ball a little does wonders for our flexibility.

    – Our improved 3-point shooting is going to open up so many things for us offensively (driving lanes etc.). 3 pt shooting might not be something to live by, but its certainly something you can’t live without in today’s league.

    – It’s so nice that we’re hitting our open looks this year (compared to last). If we would have done during the NO game we would be the undefeated team, not them.

    – I wonder how much of our success this year will come from teams just plain not being used to our new up-tempo, guard-dominated play? They have to prepare for an entirely different team this year.

    – I still think we give us entirely too many points in our first quarters. Maybe I’m just having a brain fart but I can’t think of a team that has played this up-tempo yet at the same time has been able to play strong defense. Let’s hope it lasts.

  • td4life

    just wanted to add that this is how we want to use Timmy. In the first 8 games they were just establishing their chemistry playing t0gether, so we needed him, but going forward, I would like to see carreer low usage against weaker opponets. His days of being a the kind of true pro who brings is night in and night out, aren’t the issue anymore, we are playing a more calculated season-long strategy. We’ll need him in certain match-ups, and sometimes against weaker teams (like the Clippers game), but I am sure he’d trade additional all-star appearances for finals appearances… so I am very happy that we are seeing this, it is what I was hoping for.

    It would be nice to see a similar plan start to affect manu and tony’s minutes as well. Neal can handle a increased role, and hurry back Mr. Anderson. Glad to see the praise for Hill’s efforts, he will definitely be capable of doing some heavy lifting as the season progresses. A solid 11-man rotation is an underappreciated thing. If things go really well for us, no spurs will make great fantasy starters. RJ won’t always deliver his unconcious jumper, so the best fantasy choice is probably TP, but, like I said, I’ll take a lower usage rate please.

    Do RJ and Hill join TD on the All-Defensive team this year? I hope so!

    We are obviously excited to get a nice road win, but let’s temper our enthusiasm for a franchise best start. All it means is that we are gonna have a tougher schedule when the other good teams have ironed things out a bit too. Two less games of padding v. the clippers when the races are tight. I don’t like it. Yes, splitter and blair will come along, so that helps. I like to see such improvement regarding turnovers, and defensively, and am waiting to see the trends continue, but it’s not like we are gonna go undefeated through the month of November.

  • Tyler

    “5. Ibaka looks like Mutombo 2.0. The guy is a complete freak. He’s shooting 83% free throws on the year, too.”

    Count me among the really impressed. I knew he was strong and athletic (Gary Neal found out first hand), that he could block shots, but his skill level was what impressed me. His jumper looked great. It was smooth, he didn’t hesitate, he was confident. He might be their 3rd best player this year. Is there a better 21 and under big in the league? Cousins, Favors maybe? He’s the entire package from what I’ve seen. If he keeps improving….yikes.