San Antonio Spurs 122, Indiana Pacers 109

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AT&T CENTER — It was a popular storyline in the preseason, the San Antonio Spurs are going to push the pace. San Antonio is going to try to speed things up and score a few extra baskets a game.

No one really bought it, though. We don’t believe you, you need more people.

Then San Antonio went out and scored 37 points in the first quarter against the Indiana Pacers and 66 points in the first half en route to a 122-109 win.

If the season ended tonight (which it doesn’t), the Spurs would finish at least in the top three in the NBA in scoring. But there are still 81 games left to play.

After the game, no one in the Spurs locker room was happy with the defense in the first half. The Spurs scored 66 points, which is great and all, but they allowed the Pacers to score 65 and shoot almost 57% from the field.

“They shot the ball incredibly well in the first half,” Tim Duncan said after the game. “Even the shots we did contest, they seemed to knock every one of them down.”

San Antonio took a lot of shots early in the shot clock, not a staple of the Gregg Popovich system. The silver and black finished with 22 fast break points in the game, and nearly as many out of the secondary break, where every player crosses half court but the defense is still trying to get organized.

In the second half San Antonio’s defense played more up to Coach Pop’s standards. The Spurs limited Indiana to 44 points and forced 13 turnovers, leading to 18 points. The Pacers still shot 48.5% from the field, though.

“It was really bad. We talk about defense the whole training camp and to start the season like that was not very good,” Tony Parker said. “Second half we did better and they scored only 44 points.”

According to Hoopdata.com, there were 103 possessions in the game. Last season, the Spurs averaged just 94 possessions per game.

“When you fast break, you’re giving up a lot in transition because you’re pushing the tempo,” George Hill said. “First half it was shaky, but I think in second half everybody took ownership, sprinted back, turned [and] was communicating.”

We’ll see how long these fun-and-gun Spurs stick around, pistols blazing.

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  • Jacques

    Defense could have been better, but a win is a win. Solid preformance by Tony and Manu. Timmy being old Timmy the Great. Surprised that DeJuan didn’t flash too much, James Anderson had a nice debut. Go Spurs!

  • kalone

    where did you get the 40 fast break points? espn (or the AP, i guess) reports we got 22, and actually lost the stat to indiana, which finished with 24.

  • http://48minutesofhell.com Andrew A. McNeill

    @kalone

    You’re right, I was reading the points in the paint category. It’s late.

  • kalone

    damn. i was hoping you were right. ah well. …go spurs!

  • idahospur

    Still, I wouldn’t mind seeing that amount put up by this team. Good to have a warm up game tonight against a struggling team to help warm us up for future tougher competition.

  • Jim Henderson

    I’ll take the win, but we’re going to lose some games with that kind of “D”. Even our rebounding was lackluster. I’d like to see more rolling up our sleeves with some toughness, and less running up and down like an outing at city park.

  • andy

    agreed, maybe it was opening day tightness, but our d was not up to snuff. hopefully with splitter suiting up sunday, we can intimidate in the paint and get those opponent’s percentages down. i hope duncan can preserve some of this form for the playoffs!

  • andy

    oops, i meant monday for the clips.

  • SA_Ray

    Defenses always seem to come along as the season progresses. The Spurs were much better in the second half tonight but the interior D was still lacking.

    I was most impressed by Hill, who was the x-factor when the Spurs pulled away in the 2nd half and Anderson for holding his own for 20+ minutes tonight and scoring in double digits. Good job rook.

  • Shawn_b

    A win is a win; but not the type of game I like. Looks like it’s not a secret that Pop is transforming this team to a run n’ gun one. Don’t believe this would bring us the Trophy.

  • grego

    As good as the defense is or isn’t, it is the worst game. The balance between more running and defense will take some time.

    Do keep in mind, even in the Spurs better years, when they played against the Suns, they put up numbers running with them, but also gave up numbers.

    They clamped down at the end of the game. They did slow Indy down in the 2nd half.

    Spurs problems in the past couple years were not making the key stops above all, even in games where they played solid D.

  • Bushka

    Three excellent positives.

    James Anderson played 26 minutes right out the gate and was solid.

    Jefferson and george had 10 and 9 free throws respectively fantastic to see that kind of aggression it makes the offense so much more efficient and effective.

    The big three all came loaded for bear it’s been a while since we had them all performing at a high level.

    The D will get tighter as we play more real games. Obviously some might not agree but that’s where it’s at for me

  • B Burke

    They played a decent game and it’s good to see them able to find scoring when they needed it for once. Obviously it’s just the first game of the season, but I am a little worried about the defense. Timmy looks fine on offense, esp. hitting 20-footers (no glass!), but he’s maybe not agile enough to play the stopper on defense like he used to. When Pop starts Tony Parker, Manu, and RJ, the team concedes a fair amount of penetration from the opposing guards, and Tim’s just not going to be there that often to rectify under the basket when that happens.

    On the other hand, I like that Pop is pushing the tempo with those guys in the backcourt. If those three dudes present the Spurs with an edge over most other teams’ starters, it’s their ability to score, and score quickly. I’d rather see Pop press that advantage than insist they become A1 perimeter defenders this late in their careers. Might as well burn it down! As my friend said to me tonight, ‘Pop’s going out with a grenade in each hand.’

    Again, it’s the first game of the season, and we probably won’t see the Spurs best defensive rotations for a while. But whatever happens, I’m looking forward to another interesting season.

  • B Burke

    I mean I didn’t feel this good about the team until that run in December last year and even then it wasn’t long til I felt bad again. Woo!

  • SpurredOn

    Happy to open with a win. Didn’t get to see the game so I will assume that the shooting numbers put up by Indiana were a combo of some poor Spurs defense and some excellent offense by the Pacers. Being a season opener means their legs were fresh and confidence high so perhaps most of the credit goes to the pacers for shooting well instead of blame to S.A.

  • rob

    I was looking forward to the team implementing a faster paced offense as I thought they might try prior to the season starting. And it was working great until substitutions started being made. Then in the second half it was more of the old tried and true Spurs offense. I really like that the team this early in the season (first game) was able to mix it up a bit and not be so predictable.

    And as grego pointed out…when you run at a faster pace on offense…you inheritly lose some defensive effectiveness. But to allow what was allowed in the 2nd period had more to do with defensive breakdowns than operating at a faster pace offensively.

    But the team rebounded in the second half. Started playing more half court (focus on D) style of play and eventually ended up winning the game.

    I hope Bonner’s injury isn’t too serious.

    It looks as though Blair isn’t going to stop any decent big man in this league from scoring and we can only hope that his offensive production negates that defeciency in future games as it did tonight. He’ll need to learn how to finish on fast breaks better than he did in this game if the Spurs are going to implement a faster pace game more this season.

    Gearge Hill started out slow. And for a moment I was thinking…here we go…it looked as though his pre-season problems were going to filter in to the regular season. But he rebounded great in the second half and started playing like the George Hill from last season as long as he was playing the 2 guard and not pg.

    But I was really impressed with Anderson’s game. I’m salivating at the expectation of when this kid finally gets his inaguration over and gets more comfortable with the nba game. His defense on Granger was very impressive. And when he starts getting more acclimated to the offense is going to be a force to contend with. First off the bench to b/u Jefferson and did a really good job at doing it.

    Great 1st game win. It looks as though even there are things to iron out…the team didn’t buckle under the pressure and came on strong in the 4th to secure the win. Already something better than they were able to do last year.

  • Tim in Surrey

    Wow, some really critical comments for an opening night win! Just a couple of quick observations:

    I’ll agree with SA_Ray and Bushka about the development of the defense. Give it time–and brace yourself, because it will probably regress a bit further when Tiago gets on the floor. But once he, Anderson, and Simmons get more used to the scheme and learn the rotations, and as Blair gets used to working with the first unit, they’ll get better and better.

    Also, I wouldn’t make too much of the pace. Indiana was one of the fastest-paced teams in the league last year, BEFORE they essentially traded one of the slowest big men in the league (Murphy) for probably the fastest point guard (Collison). Indiana will put up a LOT of big scores this year, and they play the kind of game that makes Duncan and Blair less effective on the defensive end (although it plays to the strengths of our perimeter defenders).

    I was also impressed by Anderson. Granger is one of the toughest covers in the league, virtually as tough as Durant, and he held his own. And let’s not forget that Anderson missed most of training camp, so he’s still green physically and mentally.

    It wasn’t the greatest of victories but I for one am ecstatic about the return of Tony Parker. He looked fast out there, even though he was playing against The Flash (although he did have too many turnovers). And I thought the bench played well, especially Hill, Anderson, and (shockingly for this early in the season) Antonio McDyess.

    So it was rough around the edges but I was pretty happy with it, considering it was an opener. One thing, though: We’re REALLY going to need Splitter’s defense.

  • Pop-a-vich

    SPURS 122 – PACERS 109

    POSITIVE:

    122 pts – really pushed the pace, though un-Spurs like, great if opp. didn’t score 109

    Big 3 – Manu being Manu, Timmy was amazing (didn’t expect that!), and Parker is B-A-C-K!

    J. Anderson – GREAT debut, defense was impressive

    R. Jefferson – nice game, he really seemed confident with his shots, hope it continues until June

    NEGATIVE:

    109 pts – waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay to many

    D. Blair – 9 pts (2/9) is ok, but 3 rbs??? and I think he got blocked twice

    Roy Hibbert – man, that kid was really GOOD! I knew he’s got potential when I saw his games last season

    M. Bonner – injured! get well soon

    Lesson? Play defense like what we did in the 4th qtr, and never ever be a run-n’-gun team

    Overall, it was a good start and DEFENSE still wins CHAMPIONSHIPS.

    DRIVE FOR FIVE!!!
    Go Spurs Go!

  • ITGuy

    Great win, we’re on our way to an 82-0 season.

    Get well soon Bonner, the team needs you.

    Go Spurs Go!!

  • bduran

    Blair seemed not to rebound as well towards the end of the preseason and continued the trend last night. Makes me wonder if he’s trying so hard to implement what he worked on this off season that it’s hurting what he does naturally, which is get the ball. I’m not worried, but it makes me think that it could be a while before Blair becomes what we want him too.

  • DieHardSpur

    Settle down guys.

    A win is a win. There are definite areas we can improve, but that’s why we play 82 games. Our defense wasn’t terrible, there were no major lapses, they shot lights out.

    As far as rebounding is concerned… they shot lights out, and so did we, so there wasn’t that many rebounds to be had. I really enjoyed watching anderson, he is gonna be a baller.

  • agutierrez

    Yes, it’s just one game so not much can be made of it. But one thing that I was thinking about during the game was this: during our glory years, we had a clear pattern. We’d start relatively slow on defense and the games would be close at the half. Then slowly, methodically it was as if we were tightening the screws until in the last 5 minutes of the game the opponent just could not score. It was great to see that last night. Does it mean we’re back to that pattern? Too early to tell, but one can hope.

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  • Bankshot21

    A little surprised by the downers. We won. You can’t expect to play at a fast pace and not give up points. The spread is what matters. If we can maintain that spread I don’t care how many points we give up. The opposing team can score 150 points as long as we score 163. Tim Duncan has a chip on his shoulder and I think Tony Parker intentionally put it there. Will he have a single digit point game this year…possibly, but he is still capable of putting up unfathomable numbers. Let’s break down this mans line: 23 points….12 rebounds….4 blocks….3 assist….3 steals….10-12 from the field….maybe I’m a bit biased but I would still take him as my starting Center/Power Forward in a game 7 against ANYBODY.

  • bduran

    There weren’t as many rebound to be had for sure, but 3 isn’t good. Like, I said, I’m not worried about Blair long term, but I’m not going to be surprised if his games suffers for a while as he tries to put it all together. He’s such an instincitve player I think he may have trouble consciously adjusting his game.

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

    The Spurs played well for a season opener. They are trying to fit in new pieces, new player in the starting lineup all while implementing an up tempo philosophy. The defense improved in the 2nd half and that is encouraging. I think the main things to draw from this game is the Big 3 played well, R-Jeff got us 16, Thrill Hill scored and came up big and Mr. Anderson got into double figures while playing some good D. Getting Splitter for Monday is going to be a plus as well. GO SPURS GO, DRIVE FOR FIVE!!!!!

  • bduran

    As far as our D goes, they scored 109 points on 103 possessions for 105.8 pts per 100 possessions. This isn’t terrible, especially in the first game. D is really dependent on a team playing well together, and the Spurs usally take a bit to get it together.

    On offense we scored 122 points on 104 possessions for 117.3 points per 100 possessions. Ballin’.

  • Kevin C.

    I was privileged to see the game last night since the NBA League Pass is free for one week. Being out in Virginia and having to watch a bunch of Wizard games is tearing at me. But I digress.

    In my opinion of how everything went:

    Agree with all on the Big Three’s performance.

    Blair was okay, but was brutalized in the paint and seemed to be getting blocked or throwing up little put-backs that weren’t going in. He does look a lot better shape-wise than last year. I guess that’s what losing 15 lbs and trimming the body fat does for ya. He was hustling though.

    RJ was in foul trouble the whole game, which is why Mr. Anderson got so much playing time. RJ did look really promising when he was on the court. I truly look forward to seeing him play this season.

    JA has this boyish face on him…almost like he stole a cookie from the cookie jar. He shot pretty well.

    GH was horrible the first half of the game. The fourth quarter…well, he was magnificent.

    Bonner had a nasty looking sprain. McD was shooting well.

    Temple and Neal got in the game with less than 2 minutes to play. Neal got a nice rebound.

    I was real excited at the end of the first period, but watching the 2nd and 3rd periods was aggravating. Everyone (and I mean everyone) was shooting well.

    Good win. I expect to say that quite a bit this year.

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  • Jim Henderson

    All the excuses for the subpar “D” only offer a partial explanation. The fact is we were not very good defensively, and the jury is clearly still out as to “how much” we will see that improve in the coming weeks. Splitter should help, but he’s just one player, and one that hasn’t yet played a game in the NBA. All I know is that we will usually lose the type of game we played last night (mainly an offensive game) against the better teams in the league. The good news is that we probably have a little time to try to get our “D” buckled down a bit, because we have a fairly soft opening schedule through our 1st eight games (and our offense looked pretty solid), although Houston could give us some problems in game # 5. Beyond that though we have OKC in game #8, Chicago in #9, Utah in #10, Orlando in #11, & Dallas in #13. We’ve got to get our defense ramped up a bit in the next 10 days or we definitely could have some problems (that means EVERYONE on the team needs to take it up a notch on the defensive end!).

    By the way, with Bonner’s ankle sprain likely to keep him out for a couple games or so, I would not be surprised to see Splitter activated a game early for New Orleans on Saturday. And that would be great! We need to get whatever he can give us ASAP, with particular focus on the defensive end.

    Brief Notes:

    – The big three did their thing.

    – RJ looked better.

    – Blair had an off game. Nothing to worry about.

    – Hill looked great in the 2nd half.

    – Anderson, solid opening debut. Needs to work hard on his ball-handling to take his offensive game to another level.

    – Bonner did not play very well, and Dice was okay.

    – Overall team defense was poor, particularly in the 1st half, which was aided by being careless with the ball on offense – 11 first half turnovers .

    – Offense was very aggressive: 36 trips to the line, making 81% at the charity stripe.

    – Fourth quarter was by far our most effective & balanced quarter overall.

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  • rob

    Jim Henderson

    “By the way, with Bonner’s ankle sprain likely to keep him out for a couple games or so, I would not be surprised to see Splitter activated a game early for New Orleans on Saturday. And that would be great! We need to get whatever he can give us ASAP, with particular focus on the defensive end.”

    I read a little bit of anticipated expectation in this comment.

    I wouldn’t expect too much from Splitter at this point. Not in nba big expectations. I think it’s going to take a while before Splitter plays in a manner that is expected or anticipated.

  • Bankshot21

    Contrary to popular belief what the Spurs did last night was fine. They made a stride in the next direction towards altering the identity of this team. I’d love to see this brand of ball if its played exactly how it was in the opener. Inside/Outside,Half court/fast break….it was beautiful. Teams are NOT going to be as hot as the Pacers were last night. Doesn’t take a rocket scientist to realize that. Many of the shots were contested and still fell. We have a versatile team with lock down capabilities. Those capabilities don’t need to be on display EVERY possession. I’m not saying take a play or two off I’m saying you know when you really need to get stops and that’s when you really dig in and tap into your former identity. As of now I say do what works.

  • Flavor

    Tiago will be better than what most of you are saying… I’m just saying…

  • Jim Henderson

    rob
    October 28th, 2010 at 2:40 pm

    “I read a little bit of anticipated expectation in this comment.

    I wouldn’t expect too much from Splitter at this point. Not in nba big expectations. I think it’s going to take a while before Splitter plays in a manner that is expected or anticipated.”

    Number one, I said I’m anxious to see “whatever he can give us, particularly at the defensive end”. “Whatever he can give us” does not reflect undue expectations. It says, I’m not sure what to expect, but whatever it is we could use it in action ASAP.

    Second, in my view there is a “reasonable” chance that what Splitter brings to the table, even in his first 5-10 games, could have a meaningful impact on the team. Obviously he won’t be at his peak right off the bat, but he’s a 7 foot, 25 year old center with several years of professional experience behind him. His game is a perfect fit for our system, and by all accounts he’s a pretty smart & versatile player. I think my expectations for him are reasonable, but not inflated. I know one thing, I’d rather have him out there than Bonner. At least Splitter represents a chance at defending the low-post better.

  • rob

    Jim Henderson

    “Second, in my view there is a “reasonable” chance that what Splitter brings to the table, even in his first 5-10 games, could have a meaningful impact on the team. Obviously he won’t be at his peak right off the bat, but he’s a 7 foot, 25 year old center with several years of professional experience behind him. His game is a perfect fit for our system, and by all accounts he’s a pretty smart & versatile player. I think my expectations for him are reasonable, but not inflated. I know one thing, I’d rather have him out there than Bonner. At least Splitter represents a chance at defending the low-post better.”

    Understood now. I guess I read more into your statement than what you meant. I appologise for my assumption. And I agree…at least Splitter gives the team another 7 footer on the court. That and…as good as Blair may be/become…he’s no match for a taller/athletic player in the post. At least as far as defending them.

    I’m excited to see what Splitter can do as well. But I’m going to be very reserved in my expectations until he gets a few nba games under his belt.

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