San Antonio Spurs 124, Houston Rockets 121

by

AT&T CENTER — The San Antonio Spurs beat the Houston Rockets in overtime 124-121 on Saturday night. It was a very exciting game, especially for it being only five games into the season.

Richard Jefferson scored 22 points and hit 4 of 5 3-pointers in what is one of the best stories of the young season for the Spurs. Manu Ginobili was very Manu Ginobili-like on Saturday night. He scored 28 points and was the go-to player in the clutch, hitting a step-back, fall away jumper with 9.5 seconds left in the fourth quarter to force overtime. Tony Parker had 14 assists, Tim Duncan had 19 & 11, and the Spurs shot 9-21 from behind the 3-point line.

Those are all great things that should reflect a win, but they almost didn’t. San Antonio’s defense allowed the Rockets to score 113 points in regulation. A Houston team that in the second half was missing Yao Ming (didn’t play at all Saturday because it was the first night of a back-to-back), Aaron Brooks (sprained his ankle in a nasty way at the very end of the first half) and Kevin Martin (sprained his ankle in the third quarter).

A Rockets team led by Luis Scola, Courtney Lee, Shane Battier, Ish Smith and Chuck Hayes went on an 18-2 run in the late third quarter/early fourth to turn a 13-point Spurs lead into a 3-point deficit.

“I thought we absolutely lost our focus and once you do that, it’s tough to get it back,” Spurs Head Coach Gregg Popovich said after the game. “[The Rockets] were down some guys, obviously from injury. They were fantastic.”

The Spurs have an interesting bend-but-don’t-break defense going in the early season, if you call allowing 101.5 points per game not breaking.

San Antonio lacks a shot-blocking big man this season. We’ve talked about it, it’s been covered. The Spurs are the fourth-worst team in the league in defending shots at the rim. According to Hoopdata.com, opponents are shooting 68.1% at the rim against San Antonio. The league average is 61.7%. But the Spurs only allow teams to get to the rim 17.3 times per game, the second best rate in the league behind the Orlando Magic.

Conversely, the Spurs allow the sixth-most attempts in the league (16.5) from less than 10 feet away from the basket. But San Antonio is fourth-best in the league at defending those shots, letting teams shoot just 36.4% from the floor.

In the 18-2 run that got the Rockets back in the game over five minutes in the second half, Houston shot seven layups, making four of them. In the other 43 minutes of game time in regulation, the Rockets attempted 17 shots at the rim.

Bend but don’t break. Let them in the lane where the bodies and arms are, but don’t let them get to the rim. It’s a dangerous strategy because conventional wisdom says that when the ball gets in the lane, bad things happen. Right now, the Spurs are trying to prove otherwise.

  • lvmainman

    Hobson13
    November 7th, 2010 at 3:12 pm
    “Bonner can only give us 3pt. shooting in non-clutch situations.”

    Couldn’t have been said any better. Bonner’s (4-17) worse in the playoffs than when the Spurs had Hedo Turkoglu (14-42).

    Front office let Theo Ratliff go, missed signing a Tony Battie(76ers) type, or Francisco Elson(Jazz) type. But, I’m still puzzled why Ian Mahinmi couldn’t have been resigned for the $800,000 he got with the Mavericks.

    Spurs need to shopping for an active, defensive big man. Until then here’s hoping Splitter takes 3 charges a game.

  • td4life

    Hobson13–
    my point is that trading for a big, or even adding one, is almost guaranteed not to happen, given every thing we’ve seen from the FO. It’s just not going to happen this year, unless RC starts getting interesting calls for Bonner… which is to say again that it ain’t happening.

    I naysayed DeAndre Jordon scenarios last summer as unlikely, because he and Kamen are both too difficult to replace for LA, and their only needs would be Splitter and RJ, or trying to move Davis. Sterling doesn’t mind losing, so they he can just be patient on Griffin and Gordon, or if it comes to it, add lottery picks.

    I’m still hoping that Splitter turns out to be better than Varejao was last season, and more complete.

    In the meantime, watching RJ is a huge thrill this season. And all those guards too… I’m loving it. I just have to ignore the voice in my head that tells me how it ends. You know, another good story with a crappy ending.

  • SG20

    I know Joakim Noah isn’t a shot blocker, but he is a tough inside defender. Also, if we could only get Al Horford from Atlanta, or Brook Lopez from New Jersey. Neither are shot blockers, however, both or Tim Duncan like. I dont see how anyone we have would equal either’s value, considering they are both young, and probably going to be great players in this league.

  • ribanez1

    Folks, give Splitter a chance to show what he can do once his minutes increase. The guy is 6’11 and, defensively at least, will be an improvement over Blair. I watched Splitter play pretty well against Lamar Odom during the summer. Give him a chance! Mahinmi for whatever reason never did get a fair shot.

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

    I agree ribanez1. We haven’t seen the best from our complete frontline yet. Splitter has only shown about 25% of his game and Blair is still figuring everything out. Their best days are ahead.

  • rob

    Hobson 13

    “I do like someone’s idea of getting DeAndre Jordan. Perhaps we could get him for Garrett Temple plus a second round pick??”

    That would have been me. Because everything you just said in your post I agree with +1.

    But I never thought the Clipps would give up Kayman. If that could be a deal that happens…Yeah. Clipps are a losing cause with a talented squad…does that suprise anybody? But a likely trade scenario just isn’t there to acquire Kayman unless we give up some of our talent as well.

    It’s why I quasidly mentioned a Parker/McDyess for Griffin/Davis trade. Not that the Clipps or Spurs would do this…more so that the Clipps have talent that could really do well on a true contender. And if the Spurs had to give up a Parker/McDyess scenario…I wouldn’t do it unless it was for the young (has a long/bright future) Griffin and a probably would be rejuvenated Davis if playing on a legit title contender.

    Quinn makes no sense in what’s turning out to be an upgraded perimeter defensive/3pt shooting team that lacks rim protection and rebounding in the post.

    This was the Jordan trade I looked into:

    http://games.espn.go.com/nba/tradeMachine?tradeId=25kfhy9

    I wouldn’t give up Temple just yet. But Gee plus a conditional 2nd round pick just might allow this to happen.

  • Bankshot21

    Jim Henderson
    November 7th, 2010 at 12:59 pm

    “Apparently you don’t realize that Blair’s blocks per 48 minutes is higher than McDyess’, Bonner’s, and Splitter’s.”

    What does that have to do with the price of cheese in Wisconsin. I was merely mentioning the player who starts with him in the front court. And per 48 and per 36 #’s are great but when you only average about 24 mpg for whatever reason I could care less about per 48 and per 36 number.

  • Gary

    Wondering if RJ is still gonna be that good in 30 games

  • rj

    doesn’t look like shot blocking problem will be solved. hopefully we can limit guard penetration and play sound position defense. mahinmi should have gone back to france for pt. he sure as hell isn’t getting it in dallas

  • Jim Henderson

    Bankshot21
    November 7th, 2010 at 7:18 pm

    “What does that have to do with the price of cheese in Wisconsin. I was merely mentioning the player who starts with him in the front court.”

    Again, this is what you said:

    “He’s playing with a non shot blocking Blair so given the circumstances he’s doing well. I didn’t want that to get lost in all of this. If Blair is going to start then his minutes with the 1st unit should decrease and his minutes with 2nd unit should increase.”

    So in the context of explaining why Duncan was doing well in shot-blocking considering he’s starting next to the “non shot-blocking Blair, you mention that Blair should receive less minutes with the starting unit. By default then that means that either McDyess, Splitter, or Bonner would see more time alongside Duncan with the starting unit, even though each of these players are even more of a “non shot-blocker” than Blair. Thus, you appear to be wedding two separate concepts in a way that does not jibe: the need for a better shot-blocker next to Duncan, and the assertion that Blair should receive less minutes with TD and the rest of the starting unit.

    “And per 48 and per 36 #’s are great but when you only average about 24 mpg for whatever reason I could care less about per 48 and per 36 number.”

    Since oftentimes player’s that one is attempting to compare don’t even play close to the same number of minutes, production numbers per 48 minutes is simply a way of making it a relatively even playing field (granted the measures’ validity is not perfect, but it’s the best we’ve got, and in this case it should work fine because the player’s in question all play a relatively similar amount of minutes). And since none of the guys in question in this case even play more than 24-36 mpg., we could even look at each players production projected on anything between 24 & 36 minutes, and it would still reveal the same thing: that is, that Blair gets more blocks than any of our other 4/5’s (other than TD) during the same amount of time on the floor. Surely you understand the basic concept here.

    So again, I don’t get the connection between Blair’s lack of shot-blocking, Blair getting too many minutes with the starting unit, and its impact on TD.

  • td4life

    Rob, I don’t understand why you come up with this stuff… why would anyone trade for Alonzo Gee?

    So far this year, Jordon is thier fourth big and has a PER of 16.7, and an adjusted FG% of 79% and 1.3blocks. (Compare our third big, Blair whose getting 8 minutes more game time and has a PER 4.3 and a 26% AFG with less than half as many blocks– not that he’s the inferior player, just saying.)

    The Spurs are not making any changes to our frontcourt. The best we can hope for is improved defensive execution across the board, and the eventual improvement and contributions of Blair and Splitter despite Matt Bonner’s playing time. Serously, that’s it. I don’t really know what to expect there, but I am hoping that Splitter will eventually bring as much savvy and IQ as Fab did, with more talent.

    The trades are not gonna happen, but if you want to wrap your mind around it, forget parting with conditional 2nd round picks and understand that we’d have to give up someone at least of George Hill’s caliber.

    I don’t know why I respond to this stuff… I guess I am just waiting for someone to give me a model of minutes distribution whereby we are true threats to get a trophy. Anyone? (I ask, but I just can’t really imagine anything aside from everything going perfectly for us, and a great many things going wrong for the Lakers in a playoff series… it’s just that I so badly want to believe, and have a rational basis for that belief.)

  • http://www.operaforthemasses.com David G

    Some of you guys are insane

    “Front office let Theo Ratliff go, missed signing a Tony Battie(76ers) type, or Francisco Elson(Jazz) type”

    I’m almost positive the Spurs didn’t try for any of those players is they all suck. If I know that then surely the Spurs FO knows that.

    A lot of trades fans throw out are insane…how about this one!

    http://games.espn.go.com/nba/tradeMachine?tradeId=3xffk8o

  • td4life

    David G–
    “This trade was successful!”
    +26 wins = 76 & 12! Nice. Solves our shot-blocking problem.
    Oh no… I just came crashing back down.

  • mac

    @David G

    Cool. And we didn’t even have to give up Matt Bonner!!!

  • Tim in Surrey

    Ay caramba!

    I don’t know that I’d go as far as David G to say that some of you are insane. But I will say that even though we’re on the same planet, we seem to live in different worlds! (I’m still waiting for the suggestion that Bonner is on the Spurs roster as part of a plan by Hitler’s clones to weaken America before I go that far. It makes sense, don’t you think? Look at his red hair! Besides, how else can you explain all the Brazilians, Argentines, and pro-Vichy point guards we’ve kept on our roster? The ex-Soviets must have been aware of this when they planted two Slovenians on our team. But I digress…)

    I’m sure we’d all love to have Anderson Varejao, Joakim Noah, Brook Lopez, Al Horford, Dwight Howard, or whomever. Hell, why stop there? How about a time machine and a wizard with healing powers so we can platoon healthy, 25-year old versions of Bill Russell, Bill Walton, and Arvydas Sabonis?

    Back in the real world (or rather the NBA, which only occasionally intersects with the real world), it looks to me like Pop and RC know what they’re doing. Look, we all know what we have with Tim, Dice, and Bonner, right? And in my opinion, Blair and Splitter will be making major contributions up front within a month or two, three at the most. Optimistically, that’s one Hall of Famer, three starters, and a solid bench contributor. At the least, it’s five good players, whom every team in the league would happily employ, to play two spots on the court. (If you don’t agree that other teams would want them, think again. Bonner is clearly the least attractive of the bunch. But if you look at the Lakers, Magic, or Celtics, he’s clearly an upgrade over guys on their current rosters like Theo Ratliff, Malik Allen, or Semih Erden.) Is this the ideal group to go to war against the 1986 Celtics? No. Could we use another all-star? Absolutely. Could we even use another good interior defender, especially if someone goes down with an injury? Of course. But from my point of view those five are enough to take on bigger teams like LA, Orlando, Boston (even with a healthy Perkins), and Portland (even with a healthy Przybilla and Oden). And they’re enough to overmatch most other teams. Again, that’s just my opinion. Your mileage may vary.

    But let’s say I’m wrong, I’m naive, I’m too trusting of Pop & RC, I’m relying on too many years of watching basketball in the Pleistocene Era when they played it with rocks,… whatever. Let’s say we really need another big man, especially on defense. I still don’t think most of you are thinking about the constraints of the salary cap and of the other front offices that have to be dealt with.

    First of all, we’re a victim of our own success: Other teams have proven to be reluctant to deal with the Spurs because anytime the Spurs express an interest in a player they start wondering what they’ve missed! It’s true. A couple of teams are immune to this, but that’s generally because they really know what they’re doing, so they’re not likely to give us good big men for pennies on the dollar.

    Second, John Hollinger made a nice point about teams at, near, or over the salary cap: It makes sense for them to overpay when re-signing their own players. Why? The logic is simple: If you don’t have cap space and you don’t re-sign your own player, you get nothing when they leave. Absolutely nothing. The only other possibility is if the team signing them is well under the cap, in which case you MIGHT be able to work a sign-and-trade by throwing in a player or draft pick. But even then all you’ll get is a salary cap exception, which you might (or might not) be able to use to acquire a replacement. Typically, though, you get nothing. This was true for Richard Jefferson, which is part of why Hollinger was one of the few writers who thought that his deal was a real bargain for the Spurs (although I’m sure a lot more of them agree now!). It was also true for Bonner. So when looking at Bonner, the question to ask is not “Would we rather have Matt Bonner on our team or [insert name of adept or athletic big man here]?” The question to ask is “Would we rather have Matt Bonner on our team or [insert name of inept or arthritic big man here]?” Because if we hadn’t signed him, we could only have signed someone for the league minimum or what was left of the mid-level exception. And in a world where guys like Amir Johnson get $5 million per year, that wouldn’t have been a very effective player.

    The fact is that if the Spurs hadn’t signed Bonner, the best replacement probably would’ve been someone like Amundson. Note that I’m not saying the best addition, but rather the best replacement. I don’t think we could have kept Bonner and added Amundson. I have no problem with Amundson. He’s an interesting player and he has given us some trouble in the past, so I can see the appeal. I’m not sure that he fits the Spurs’ system all that well, especially on offense. And because he’s the kind of guy who doesn’t get a lot of press, it’s hard to tell how well he fits the Spurs’ “culture”. But he does play defense and adds a lot of energy. Given that Pop coached against Amundson in a playoff series this past spring, I’m sure he knows and remembers him well. I’m sure he remembers Theo Ratliff, too, since he was on the Spurs’ roster just a year ago. Instead, Pop and RC preferred to stick with what they’ve got. Remember how we were all criticizing them for their failure to find an adequate backup SF, just two weeks ago? Right now it looks like they knew what they were doing, doesn’t it? I suspect that they still do.

    My only concern with our big men is a potential injury, given the ages and histories of Tim and Dice. But I really like what I see in the play of Blair and Splitter. Once they get rid of the rough edges and rust, I think our interior play will improve dramatically.

  • rob

    “Rob, I don’t understand why you come up with this stuff… why would anyone trade for Alonzo Gee?”

    For the most part…the intrigue. Do these scenarios pan out…No. But Alonzo Gee proved to be able to play in this league…at a significant level during a brief stint with Washington. The Wizards as much admitted to a mistake in not extending Gee past his 10 c0ntract. Gee also showed a lot of promise in summer league as well as being D-league mvp. Just because he doesn’t get burn in San Antonio doesn’t mean he’s not nba ready to contribute on another team. Especially another team that is weak in their backcourt/wing supporting cast like the Clippers where as the Spurs are stacked.

    At 1 and 6 what is it that the Clippers need? So far from what I’ve been able to assess is somebody to come in and provide at least decent minutes from the bench in their backcourt/wing department.

    As far as a 2nd round pick…Jordan was a second round pick. Giving back that for Jordan + Gee is a fair trade. But I will concede to you that it probably doesn’t happen. And that we probably are seeing who the Spurs are going to role with as far as frontcourt this year.

    But to me…projected reality also is…without an upgrade to our frontcourt in terms of depth and becoming better defending the post…the Spurs don’t have a chance against the likes of LA.

    And in speaking of LA…this too might not be reality…but I refuse to say in my mind that the Spurs could not at least try to become as stacked as LA. In order to do that…the team would have to improve via trade. What better way than try to snag talent from a team with a losing record? Teams with winning records aren’t going to give up players. At least any that are being significant to their team’s success.

    And I’m with you on this…
    “I guess I am just waiting for someone to give me a model of minutes distribution whereby we are true threats to get a trophy.”

    But I’m not asking for a trophy in this case…just a solid bench contributor in an area of defense we are lacking.

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

    If we are dreaming now….

    Chris Kaman would be a nice target for SA. He’s off to a slow start (.364 FG %) and the Clips might, just maybe, perhaps, be interested in getting a wing like Gee, who looks like he’d fit in with their “culture”.

    Gee & 2011 #1 for Kaman.

    Not to mention, the team could a German player. Ya know, cross other country off the list.

  • Pingback: Out of the Timeout | A Richard Jefferson Corner 3 play | 48 Minutes of Hell

  • BALLHOG

    BIG JIM, Hope all is well.

    Been a while, but not much has changed. Spurs core players do look better…Neal and Anderson are a 150% upgrade over Bogans and Mason…

    However, as mentioned earlier, the Bonner signing will keep us from winning when it matters. That 16 mil could have solidified this roster with a quality big and a quality back up 3.

    However, all is not lost. Maybe the Coaching staff will demand some PF play out of their 16 million dollar, 6’10 2 guard. If not, it just wont work.

    Also,

    Of course there is a problem between Blair and Pop right now. Pop is hell bent on playing this kid at center. Im sure that Blair and his agaent see this differently. It wont help his career and it certainly wont help his market. Fouls? Guess any 6’7 player trying to defend a 7 footer in the low block is going to have foul problems. Just a guess. If I were Blair, Id be a bit pissed off too….

    But, just to appease the Pop butt sniffers of the world…Spurs need a game againt a big team…Lakers, Denver, Portland, Boston…This will be the gauge for the Popster….The genious, the master, “He who can do no wrong”! *$&%^#&

    Strange thing is….As each opportunity to bring in a big presents itself….Spurs show zero interest…Bring in guards instead.

    Then there is Gee. A roster spot, as if one (Quinn) wasted roster spot just wasnt enough!

    Should we keep”Gee” on the roster , as if we need another 6’6 guy for any reason, instead of getting some frontcourt help? Seems reasonable, doesnt it?

    But, I gave up on trying to figure this coach out…Its useless!

    I will leave that to the BB experts here at the new 48.

    Good Luck!

  • bduran

    Tim in Surrey,

    Thank you. I agree with you 100%. Our front court is fine, especially with McDyess looking rejuvenated.

    As for Blair losing Pops trust, I totally disagree. McDyess is playing very well and a vet, so he got more minutes than the young guy we’re still developing who had 5 fouls. No big deal.

    As for Bonner only being a good 3 pt shooter in non clutch situation … so what? Performance in the “clutch” is so overrated. The game is 48 minutes long, not just the last 4 in close ones. Yeah, you need someone who knows what to do in a close games. Manu is our man. What I want from Bonner is spreading the floor and helping out against second units. Bonner will not be on the floor in “clutch” situations. Bonner will get limited minutes earlier in the game and should help us reduce the number of “clutch” situations we face. I just don’t get why people are so upset at having Bonner as a fifth big.

  • spursfanbayarea

    It’s funny everyone thinks we could have improved by signing a big and a sf if we didn’t sign bonner. Nothing could be farther from the truth. In actuality we were already at the cap level. You can not sign players without cap space. But you are allowed to resign your own free agents. Do I think Bonner fills a need for our team? I do not think he is a great fit for the spurs team. But I wouldn’t let him walk for nothing. Hopefully we can package him in a trade for someone come december that we could not sign outright in the summer.

  • td4life

    Tim in Surrey, bduran, spursfanbayarea–

    “”I just don’t get why people are so upset at having Bonner as a fifth big”

    How about the stats presented in the main post, for starters? How about the fact that teams like Portland, Dallas, and Boston obviously grasp what is needed most to face the 2x defending champs, and added it late last season and this summer? While Rashard Lewis is the primary obstacle between Orlando and and their championship dreams. How about the fact that we are a playoff team without him, and he doesn’t help us against playoff teams? How about defense first? How about the fact that Horry is the ONLY true stretch big to make a difference on a championship squad (which he did 7 times)? I don’t care if your name is Orlando, Dallas, Atlanta, Oklahoma City, Utah, Toronto, or the 2008-09 San Antonio Spurs in particular.

    What’s more, I never really contended that we needed a 5th big, our top 4 bigs can carry that load just fine. What we need is much better defense out of our top 4. Defense that requires the atleticism and length that our guys just don’t have. With Bonner, you are defending 5 guys with 4.

    ” [Bonner's] clearly an upgrade over guys on their current rosters like Theo Ratliff, Malik Allen, or Semih Erden”

    … maybe, but he’s also payed alot more. What’s worse, he’s overpaid. We outbid on him, which also makes him difficult to move down the line. Camby was dumped at the trade deadline for expiring contracts. Bogans is starter on a team that traded away Tyrus Thomas. Roger Mason, and Mahinmi were snatched up. Bonner does have value and could have been packaged and traded. We didn’t have to see him walk for nothing, but whatever contract we gave him should have been more trade friendly. Given our glaring holes, we could also have packaged expirings with a real asset, to become juggernauts!

    I’m not down on Blair, I’m optimistic regarding Splitter, I love what Dice can do for us. But if you are missing one of them, and you have the other two, there are superior centers than whichever one you part with, and there are also superior long-term prospects out there (DeMarcus Cousins as the #4 pick comes to mind, since I don’t think the #2 or 3 pick (Favors) was attainable by the Spurs).

    We don’t really need what Matt Bonner can do… it is very simply overrated, and his case useless in a playoff atmosphere. And yet, we are missing some very obvious things that he can’t do. If you are talking 5th bigs, you want to spend maybe 7million over 3 years, and we could have filled that spot any number of ways.

  • bduran

    “What’s more, I never really contended that we needed a 5th big, our top 4 bigs can carry that load just fine. What we need is much better defense out of our top 4.”

    I totally agree with this when it comes to the playoffs. This is the goal. However, we needed depth and some regular season minutes beyond those four. We have consistenly outscored the other team when Bonner has been in during the regular season. I know it’s mostly against second teams, but that’s what we need him for. His contribution will likely add a couple of wins, which could help our seeding. That is where his value is. Once it’s playoff time, I hope we don’t need him.

    I agree he’s overpaid, but that’s been addressed by others.

  • td4life

    “We have consistenly outscored the other team when Bonner has been in during the regular season. I know it’s mostly against second teams, but that’s what we need him for.”

    We don’t need him for that, because now we have DB in his second year (and who should have played more as a rookie), and we have Tiago. Take an upgrade in our big four, and a fifth big to help you get regular season wins is both less relevent and not very expensive.

    In terms of fifth bigs, how much difference is there between fielding a unit with Matt Bonner, and a small ball lineup? Not that I care much, I’d rather not see either one, but your out-of-position four in small ball situations can add more value to the team overall whether his name is Jefferson, Anderson, or hell, Gary Neal. So if you need a fifth big, don’t go with a one-dimensional shooter.

  • bduran

    “In terms of fifth bigs, how much difference is there between fielding a unit with Matt Bonner, and a small ball lineup? Not that I care much, I’d rather not see either one, but your out-of-position four in small ball situations can add more value to the team overall whether his name is Jefferson, Anderson, or hell, Gary Neal. So if you need a fifth big, don’t go with a one-dimensional shooter.”

    Bonner rebounds better on both ends, shoots the 3 better, and defends bigs better. He’s not a great rebounder or defender, but he is an upgrade over Jefferson. Given our lack of depth at the 3, I want all of Jefferson’s minutes to be at SF. Bonner has had a good +- for us coming off the bench the last few years. Whatever you think of his limitations as a player (which I’m sure I agree with), he has proved beneficial in our system with the second unit. He’s painful to watch at times, but we tend to outscore the other team with him on the court.

    I can’t believe you said you’d rather play Neal at the 4 then Bonner.

  • Jim Henderson

    Tim in Surrey
    November 8th, 2010 at 3:36 am

    “Because if we hadn’t signed him, we could only have signed someone for the league minimum or what was left of the mid-level exception. And in a world where guys like Amir Johnson get $5 million per year, that wouldn’t have been a very effective player.”

    In general your point is well-taken on this subject, but as I’ve stated previously numerous times, I would have much preferred signing Lou Amundson using the mid-level exception (2.4 mil./yr.) than to resign Bonner (could have done both, but why bother – save the money/luxury tax). We could have had Neal using the BAE. You acknowledge this later in your comment, but shrug it off that the FO probably knowing what they’re doing. This is true, probably, but they’re not infallible, and I think they missed the boat on this one, as our early season lack of rim protection attests to. We will not win without adequate “D”, and Amundson is a total upgrade over Bonner in this regard. He would be a perfect “fit” for this team as a 5th big for about 15 mpg. of total energy & disruption.

    bduran
    November 8th, 2010 at 7:01 am

    “I just don’t get why people are so upset at having Bonner as a fifth big.”

    Because we need more defense on our front line, particularly a guy that can help with “rim protection”. Amundson would have been a much better fit for this team at this time.

    td4life
    November 8th, 2010 at 9:14 am

    Generally agree with your comment here. Well done.

    But this team does need a 5th big, it just isn’t Bonner. It’s Amundson. He would have given us what we need, and currently don’t have enough of (front line energy, quickness, shot-blocking), even in the playoffs.

  • td4life

    bduran–
    “”I can’t believe you said you’d rather play Neal at the 4 then Bonner.”

    No offense, but I was counting on people to read between the lines. I do not want Neal at the four, which I stated earlier in that same sentence. I am saying that in building this team, I’d rather have Neal than Bonner, and give Bonner’s minutes to Blair, Splitter, and whatever Amundson type you choose. Or better yet, trade some guys and have a true big man that helps you with both regular season wins and that one spot in the standings, AND in the playoffs (where, incidently, Amundson proved valuable). What I was saying was that given the existence of four quality bigs on our team, what you say Bonner brings to us is irrelevent…. you might as well go with small ball. RJ is clearly athletic enough to gobble up rebounds if that’s what he’d be coached to do in that situation. Playing Bonner as a stop gap in case of injuries, is a desperate move… or rather it should be, it should be viewed as no less desperate than playing four guards. Some coaches seem to overappreaciate small ball, some fans are comfortable watching it. Our coach overappreachiates Bonner, and if we have any degeree of complacency because of what he can do, we ought to know how that concludes. And regardless of +/-, the Bonner expirement was NOT a success. The better we are with him on the floor, the worse of a team we are in general, and the more certain we are not to be there in June.

  • td4life

    Jim Henderson–

    “But this team does need a 5th big, it just isn’t Bonner. It’s Amundson.”
    In every comment I’ve ever made on this topic, I infer that very thing as a “Plan B.”

    Plan A, as I desribe it again and again, entails making some sacrifices if need be, but making some trades in order to improve our top 4 bigman rotation. If your top 3 bigs are good enough, your 5th big becomes incidental.

    The Spurs appear to have gone with Plan C, mistaking it for a great idea. Insert the definition of insanity here.

  • bduran

    “you might as well go with small ball. RJ is clearly athletic enough to gobble up rebounds if that’s what he’d be coached to do in that situation.”

    I totally disagree with this. RJ has not rebounded well for years, so I see nothing to make me think he’ll ever be a good rebounder again. His talents lie elsewhere. I would not prefer to go small ball over having a guy like Bonner on the roster who has helped us win regular season games for the last two seasons. It just doesn’t make sense. The truth is, we could really use his minutes right now. Blair and Splitter are still learning, and I’d like to conserve McD’s minutes at this point.

    The bottom line is we need some depth and we have done well with him on the court during the regular season the last two years.

    Jim,

    I would have liked Amundson as you know, but since we didn’t go after him I’m fine with Bonner on the roster for the reasons I’ve stated.

  • mac

    I have to agree with td4life on these points.

    Small ball is a desperate move, but a guy like Matt Bonner is a disadvantage in disguise. He costs you development minutes for the price, and he keeps you from developing a roster suited to more advantageous defensive schemes.

    Offensively, we longer need him to stretch the floor. RJ, Hill, Anderson, Manu, and Neal are providing tremendous spacing for our big guys down low. If there was ever a possibility of moving him, we should have done it.

  • mac

    “we longer” should read “we no longer”

  • Jim Henderson

    td4life
    November 8th, 2010 at 2:36 pm

    “If your top 3 bigs are good enough, your 5th big becomes incidental.”

    Yes, that is at least partially true. And as you know, our top three bigs are not yet good enough to compete against teams like the Lakers. So in reality, since our front line was deemed pretty much set since the Splitter signing, as you noted, we needed the “right” 5th big, taking into account our cap situation. And Amundson was it. He could of given us a reasonable chance (even though still a somewhat remote one). Bonner gives us very little chance in the playoffs. We needed to go with 5 bigs in the playoffs, emphasizing defense/rebounding, and Bonner does not fit that bill.

    mac
    November 8th, 2010 at 3:39 pm

    Well said.

  • bduran

    mac,

    “. He costs you development minutes for the price, and he keeps you from developing a roster suited to more advantageous defensive schemes.”

    That’s an interesting argument and one I may by. I still like having Bonner on the roster just in case, but then of course he’s way to expensive at that point.

    Jim,

    “Bonner gives us very little chance in the playoffs. We needed to go with 5 bigs in the playoffs”

    Rotations tighten in the playoffs, it doesn’t really matter who number 5 is. If you end up playing your 5th big minutes that matter, it’s over anyway. To my mind the 5th guy is just for regular season depths and minutes.

  • td4life

    “If there was ever a possibility of moving him, we should have done it.”

    Thank you! If his value is so obvious there was definitely a “way”, it was/is more a question of “will”.

  • Jim Henderson

    bduran
    November 8th, 2010 at 4:50 pm

    “Rotations tighten in the playoffs, it doesn’t really matter who number 5 is. If you end up playing your 5th big minutes that matter, it’s over anyway. To my mind the 5th guy is just for regular season depths and minutes.”

    Most rotations tighten in the playoffs, but to varying degrees. The Suns, for example, tighten it by one player, max. Similarly, we do not have the type of team to narrow our rotation too much in the playoffs. We have old horses that will get burned-out in a long playoff run by logging too many minutes per game.

    For example, right now we’re going with a ten-man rotation for the most part, which is good in my opinion. In the playoffs, we should ideally drop to nine, particularly IF Amundson were on the team. Thus, as it stands now, the playoff rotation would go something like this:

    Parker, Hill
    Manu (and perhaps Neal by situation)
    RJ, Anderson
    Blair, Amundson, McDyess
    Duncan, Splitter

    Of course the minutes would vary some from game to game based on individual production & match-ups.

    This team won’t make it to the WCF’s with a short playoff rotation. Our stars are simply too old. I bet you that even an old team like Boston this year will pretty much go with a good nine-man rotation in the playoffs. If we end up feeling the need to play Duncan more than 34 mpg. on average in the playoffs, we’re done. The other big guys on our roster are either too old or not yet good enough to log big minutes in the playoffs. Amundson would have filled an important niche for us, even if it were just for 12-16 mpg. during the regular season AND playoffs.

    Minutes would vary, as I said (in fact one of them might not even play in a minority of games), but here’s one approximate example of a minute break-down among the five bigs:

    Duncan – 32
    Blair – 20
    Splitter – 17
    Amundson – 15
    McDyess – 12

    All of them offer different strengths & weaknesses, and they would compliment each other well. The fact is we simply don’t have the horses to go with three main guys. It has to be by committee. But with Bonner instead of Amundson, that committee is inadequate and incomplete.

  • Pingback: Spurs 95, Bobcats 91: Gregg Popovich takes from Alvin Gentry | 48 Minutes of Hell

  • rob

    Duncan, McDyess, Blair, Splitter. Your 4 man big rotation.

    Enter age and/or injury to any of these players and the Spurs are dead as far as depth. Bonner will not provide meaningful minutes “having” to play a role outside of spacing the floor. He’s great to have if your other bigs can be placed in rotation and allow him to space the floor in limited situations.

    But let’s look at the facts.

    Duncan every year for the past several years has come up with some nagging injury that has not allowed him to perform at best come playoff.

    McDyess is limited to performing at his best if he does not have to be counted on every night.

    Blair is still “learning” and is not going to be a go to guy in this league. Though at times he has indicated to be a force. There are physical and talent limitations that he simply will not overcome.

    Splitter the rookie of this class is as unknown to what he can/will provide but has great expectations riding on his shoulder. Still. Never played an 82 game nba season. And contrary to what some some have said about his being a euroleague star…it wains in comparison to the talent at the nba level during the playoffs.

    If anything….your 5th big plays significant minutes on this team for two reasons. One is to help Duncan and McDyess insure they don’t have to play significant minutes during the season. And two…spelling Blair or Splitter when either may not be having effective games due to their youth and inexperience.

    If Bonner is the best the team would have in any of those situations….I don’t know…I think the team does better with a defensive/rebounding type of big. With the emergence of Neal and Anderson as 3 point shooters as well as an improved Jefferson and always clutch Manu…the team doesn’t need another 3 point shooter more so than a defensive big.

    We’ll see. Not much any of us could do about it regardless which side of the fence your on.

  • Jim Henderson

    rob
    November 8th, 2010 at 8:17 pm

    You essentially elaborated on the point I just made, and I agree with your basic assessment.

    But obviously it’s water under the bridge at this point. Amundson is gone, and he was “our guy”.

    Our guards & wings will now have to be extra special to give us a remote shot, and that’s with good health and steady improvement from Blair & Splitter throughout the season.

  • Bankshot21

    Jim,

    I just said I mentioned Blair because he starts along side TD to start the game. How did you miss that part? Is it selective vision? Blair’s per 36 #’s may be better but he and McDyess who I would start over Blair were averaging the same per game blocks. If Blair averages x amount per 36 and McDyess averages a little less than him per 36…if McDyess stays on the floor more minutes causing him to get more blocks then that’s a plus. If he can stay @ home and not get fouls in drones the way Blair does then he’s putting the team on the line a lot less. Duncan’s pts per 48 ranked right up there with some of the league scoring leaders, but @ the end of the day he still averaged just 17.9. Blair was mentioned by default but as you pointed out the others are not blocking shots the way we all would like. Blair would likely be 1 of the better shot blockers on the team with his reach and vertical leap he just needs to work on that timing….opposed to that jumper he’s been working on.

  • Bankshot21

    Amundson would offer us virtually nothing on the O end of the court. He is a hustle/defensive minded guy but ultimately I’m not sold on him being an ideal fit for this team. Contrary to belief Bonner offers a toughness that not many people can bring as a 3pt specialist. If your point guard gets the doors blown off of him by Tony Parker who would you rather leave to rotate over to TP?….Amundson or Bonner? To an extent Bonner keeps the defense honest. And for a team that begged for 3pt shooting we sure are unappreciative of the peson who lead us in 3s last season. Also, we only watch the basketball games. We don’t know the extent of his value beyond that. Look @ Jacques Vaughn. Pop said he was the best acquisition of the off season. A little used retired former PG. Behind the scenes players contribute in other ways that we may never be aware of.

  • Jim Henderson

    Bankshot21
    November 9th, 2010 at 10:30 am

    “I just said I mentioned Blair because he starts along side TD to start the game. How did you miss that part? Is it selective vision?”

    Do you understand how paragraphs are constructed? Each sentence needs to tie together in some logical and meaningful way. I simply dissected the paragraph from your previous comment (cited again below), and used data to support my contention that it contained 2 or 3 different thoughts and/or assertions that appear to be incongruent.

    “He’s playing with a non shot blocking Blair so given the circumstances he’s doing well. I didn’t want that to get lost in all of this. If Blair is going to start then his minutes with the 1st unit should decrease and his minutes with 2nd unit should increase.”

    Tell me if I’m wrong, but that paragraph implies that Duncan would do “better” if he was playing less with Blair, at least partly because Blair is a “non shot-blocker”. If that’s not really what you meant, then the paragraph was not written in a way that others can clearly understand your point(s). If that is what you meant, then it is not supportive by the available data, which I pointed out.

    “Blair’s per 36 #’s may be better but he and McDyess who I would start over Blair were averaging the same per game blocks. If Blair averages x amount per 36 and McDyess averages a little less than him per 36…if McDyess stays on the floor more minutes causing him to get more blocks then that’s a plus.”

    But the main point is regardless of total minutes played, Blair is getting slightly more block’s per minute on the floor whether that’s taking into account a larger sample such as all of last year’s games, or just looking at the 1st five games this year.

    “If he can stay @ home and not get fouls in drones the way Blair does then he’s putting the team on the line a lot less.”

    When comparing two players you cannot just selectively pick out one relatively minor area that favors your guy (fouls per minute), and then say see, my guy deserves more time with the starting unit. Blair fouls more than McDyess, but he also rebounds at a higher rate (last year, Blair 12.7 rpg. per 36, McDyess 10.1 rpg. per 36). I’m happy that McDyess has played better so far this year than last year. Maybe he’s better off the bench, but the sample size this year is really not large enough to come to any firm conclusions on any of this. The fact is we’re 5-1 with Blair starting, and with McDyess coming off the bench. I wouldn’t mess with a winning formula at this point.

    “Duncan’s pts per 48 ranked right up there with some of the league scoring leaders, but @ the end of the day he still averaged just 17.9.”

    But that’s not really relevant. Per 48 numbers are mainly relevant when comparing guys that play considerably less than 36 minutes, with guys that play more than 36 minutes, because it gives us an indication of their relative “productiveness” while on the floor.

    Bankshot21
    November 9th, 2010 at 11:10 am

    “Amundson would offer us virtually nothing on the O end of the court.”

    Actually, that’s not true. You need to spend a little more time with analyzing players’ production stats before you make such assertions. Last year Amundson averaged 11.4 ppg. per 36 minutes, and 55.1% in FG. Last year McDyess averaged 10.6 ppg. per 36 minutes, and 48.6% in FG (even Bonner’s career ppg. per 36 is just 13.3, with a TS% of 58.0 — not that big of an upgrade on Amundson). And the main point is, we need defense/rebounding (our offense is fine as is w/o Bonner, as the last 5 games attest to) in a 4/5 much more than we need an outside shot. Amundson is great at both.

    “Contrary to belief Bonner offers a toughness that not many people can bring as a 3pt specialist.”

    We don’t need a 3-point specialist in a 4/5. We have enough now at the guard/wing. The whole concept of a stretch 4 is overrated, that’s why only a handful of teams have then in their playoff rotation, and it seems to add nothing to their chances of winning a title.

    “If your point guard gets the doors blown off of him by Tony Parker who would you rather leave to rotate over to TP?….Amundson or Bonner?”

    You’re going to point out ONE positive skill for Bonner (a redundant one at that) over Amundson and you’re going to declare he’s your man. Let’s not be silly. We need DEFENSE on this team, and Amundson is heads and shoulders above Bonner in that department. Case closed.