San Antonio Spurs 124, Houston Rockets 121

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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.

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

    As Sean Elliott said during the game, “The defense has a long, long way to go.”

    Yep, I’m with ya Sean. I have this suspicion that Tiago will be the lynchpin if the Spurs D ever turns the corner.

  • td4life

    Manu is a superstar and essentially the lifeblood of this team. It was also great to see Hill out there producing.

    And, improvement is one thing, but can anyone get over what a superb fit RJ is as a San Antonio Spur? Finley, Barry, and Horry’s 2nd seasons notwithstanding, I can’t… this dude was born for this. It’s really nice to have a big four!

    However… hopefully we’ll start to establish a much better bigman game, we REALLY need them to step up. We haven’t beaten any quality teams, and this game was a lucky win. Sure Scola can play, and K Martin was eating us alive, but the “bend, but don’t break” angle is BS… I can’t imagine that anyone thinks we are gonna stop the elite teams from getting to the hoop, or shut them down in the lane, by playing like this. Sorry Andrew, they are interesting stats, just, unfortunately, meaningless. It’s a shame we can have so many perimeter guys playing so well, and still be so in want of so very much more.

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

    What if Ryan Richards does the un-thinkable? He can spend all this rehab time in Austin learning the Spurs thick playbook. Then in January put that in to practice and come in late in the season for the Spurs stretch run, say Rodeo Road Trip timeframe, and contribute immediately as a solid big man!

  • sasleepless

    re: Chris in Phoenix

    Now you’re day dreaming. My day dream is more realistic. I want Tiago be that big that’s missing once he gets acclimated and gets his legs beneath him.

  • grego

    I would say a lot of the team was clutch. Manu was noticeably tired in OT. He took two bad long range shots in OT.

    Like in games previously, a lot of key players did their part, from Parker to Duncan to McDyess to RJ.

    I think the team missed having Anderson off the bench. Neal had an off night and Anderson probably would have taken most of those minutes.

    I think once Tiago gets into the thick of things, the defense should pick up. Or at least McDyess starting in the interim.

    The defense improved as the game went on though.

    “• The Spurs looked like they were lapsing into the defensive doldrums that have marked the early part of the season after allowing Houston to shoot 68.4 percent in the first quarter. But they bounced back to permit the Rockets to shoot only 30.4 in the second quarter and a collective 42.5 percent (34 of 80) during the rest of the game.”

    http://blog.mysanantonio.com/spursnation/2010/11/06/notes-on-a-scorecard-winning-the-kind-of-game-the-spurs-would-have-lost-early-last-season/

  • Manolo Pedralvez

    Tres Grandes – TD, TP and Manu – and defense did it for the Spurs in the crunch, plus a lot of breaks in the endgame – note three missed triples by the Rockets before Timmy, thankfully, snared the rebound. Same old, same old…

  • Brian in Seattle

    Though the defense surely needs improvement, what frustrated me most was Timmy and RJ being completely ignored through much of the 4th quarter and all of OT.

    Call me stubborn, but I still think the offense, especially in those half-court situations toward the end of close games, should continue to run through Timmy. I’m not sure why this end-game strategy has stopped, but if anybody can tell me how putting Manu in isolation rather than allowing a team’s defense to collapse on Timmy would lead to more wins, I’m all ears.

    Perhaps it’s all dependent on the situation and the team we’re playing, and I get that. But regardless, I didn’t like seeing two key players being left out of the offensive mix in such a close game.

  • New York City

    @Brian – You make a good point. I too would like to know why the Spurs have decided to go away from Duncan when the game is on the line. I noticed this last season too. Have they lost confidence in Duncan to dominate and deliver in the clutch?

    I’m sure there isn’t a simple, tidy answer, but I would like to hear someone try and explain.

  • New York City

    Also, let’s give some credit to old man Dice. He quietly posted a double-double tonight on 5/8 shooting.

    And not just tonight, but the last couple of games he’s been solid on defense, solid pulling down boards, and making solid passes. Not to mention he continues like clockwork to hit those jumpers which is vital to our offensive spacing, especially since Bonner is out. This guy has been Mr. Dependable.

    If Blair had been posting McDyess’s numbers for the past 5 games, we would be tripping over each other congratulating him. Let’s show some love for the Dice Man, y’all! What a bargain he’s turned out to be.

  • grego

    @Brian – they are trying to put Duncan in the post less so that he doesn’t take a pounding throughout the season. The emphasis in the post will take place towards the second half of the season and in the playoffs.

    Now of course it has to be determined just how much they should stay away from Tim, but at the end of the day, a fresh Duncan in late spring/summer is the most important thing.

  • Hobson13

    If there is such thing as a bad win, this is it. The Rockets had no Yao for the entire game and played the majority of the second half without Martin or Brooks. In essence, the Rockets only playmaker for the second half was Scola. All this and they damned near won the game.

    I don’t know what to say about our defense. This year’s version of Spurs defense is the worst I’ve seen in the last 8-10 years. Players like Ishmael Smith, Chuck Hayes, Courtney Lee, and Brad Miller are decent players, but they shouldn’t be tearing up your first string. We’ve got to play better than this if we expect to go anywhere this year.

    I will say this in defense of the Spurs defensive effort; the Houston subs played with an air of desperation. They simply wanted this game more, but with their Big 3 gone, didn’t have the talent to overcome the Spurs. You could certainly tell that the Rockets were desperately trying to avoid an 0-5 start.

    On the offensive side of the ball, we were a juggernaught like similar to how we’ve been playing for the first 5 games of the season. The Big 4 played very well. RJ continued his onslaught and Parker put up CP3 kind of numbers with a 21pt, 14assts, 5stls effort. Although we missed too many FT’s, we turned the ball only 11 times. Not a small feat for a team that couldn’t pass, catch, or dribble against the Suns.

    If we clean up our defense (which, at this point, appears to be a Herculean task) and continue our offensive romp we can be a formidable team. A win is a win, I suppose, but I would have really hated to drop this contest considering how badly Houston came limping into the second half of this game. The next 3 games are against the Bobcats, Clippers, and 76ers. There’s a very good chance we can start the season 7-1 if only we can discover some way to stop teams from scoring.

  • New York City

    OK, last one and then I’m off to bed.

    So much for resting our starters and older guys. In this game the following minutes were played:

    Old Man McDyess – 34:35
    Duncan – 38:14
    Ginobili – 39:43
    Parker – 41:29
    Jefferson – 39:19

    Obviously these 5 won us the game (all of them + Hill scoring in double digits), and so we needed them for every minute they were out there. Blair is struggling right now. I don’t know if it’s the new role and expectation of being a starter or what, but he is looking lost. Just by comparison of minutes played, McDyess is the starting center by default. Which is fine, as he is doing a fine job. But all this leads me to one question:

    What does this mean for us later in the season if our starters and older players are having to carry so much of the load this early on?

    McDyess is old. Duncan ain’t much younger, and has bad knees. Tiago can’t play too many minutes. Blair will foul out if he plays anymore minutes. And Bonner is injured. Anyone else think we need to sign another big man???

    Not to mention, as others have pointed out, none in this bunch is a shot blocker (save Duncan, but he ain’t what he used to be either). We sure could use a Theo Ratliff about now. But not to worry, we just signed another point guard!

  • Tobias

    The best thing about this game is that the Spurs won it. I know that there is plenty of room for improvement. And winning now even if the team is not doing very well means that the team can relax and get into POs mentality before the regular season is over. The young guns are getting into the rotation and the older players will have limited minutes in the weeks before the PO.

  • Jim Henderson

    Some miscellaneous comments:

    TP was very clutch in overtime. With 21, 14, & 5 steals he was probably the MVP tonight.

    Manu got us out the gate quickly, and closed the fourth like only he can do.

    I really hope that RJ is not a dream. He hasn’t played this well in years.

    TD had a sweet 2nd half, and managed to make some key plays even though he wasn’t as much the go-to guy in games like this as in years’ past.

    Glad to see Hill back and looking pretty healthy. He was also fairly productive tonight.

    McDyess had a very nice game. It’s a good thing, because Blair’s foul trouble (and Bonner’s absence) made his minutes go up way more than normal (35 minutes).

    Blair still struggled a bit with his shot, but there were glimpses of a gradual emergence. He had a nice hook shot in the lane, and made a nice spin move in the lane as well, but was unable to finish. He also had a block, a steal, and a sweet outlet pass for an assist on the fast break. His rebounding also appears to be coming around. He had 4 offensive boards and the highest total rebound rate on the team tonight (8 rebs. in 21 minutes). I’ve also been noticing that Blair’s defense has improved. He’s moving his feet to get much better positioning. I think he got screwed on a couple of foul calls tonight.

    Team Offense:

    Generally speaking, the offense is going quite well. We’re starting to shoot much better from the perimeter, and our guard/wings are being aggressive (at least enough to keep people honest) periodically by taking it hard to the rack. That said, I have an objection to make about our focus on the offensive end. I think it is too guard/wing focused, and too perimeter jumper focused, especially in our last two games against a weak Suns front court, and a Yao-less Rocket team. I’d like to see a lot more pick & rolls with our bigs, more entry passes to to the low post, more dribble-drive penetration & dumping (bigs)/dishing (perimeter) for open & easier opportunities, more give & go’s to the cutter from the high block, and an occasional alley oop to RJ, and maybe even get Anderson into the mix. The main point is, we’re going to need more high-percentage opportunities in the paint, particularly in the half-court set.

    Team Defense:

    Simply put, we have some problems, and I’m really not too optimistic that we have the solutions available in our bag of tricks. For one thing, as Andrew alluded to, we don’t have adequate rim protection (our low-post “D” is not great, but it might be good enough if Splitter comes along nicely). As many of you probably know, I harped on the “rim protection” topic all summer. On top of that, our perimeter guys are having difficulty preventing dribble-drive penetration inside 15 ft. And finally, every guy on the floor is not defending with the necessary intensity for 48 minutes. We play in spurts of several minutes sporadically throughout the game, which probably adds up to about 24 minutes on average during the whole game. Without a trade, or picking up a solid “rim protector” as a free agent, or off of waivers, our perimeter “D” has to improve dramatically for us to contend deep into the playoffs next May. Do we have the personnel to make great strides in this area? That is debatable, but then again defense is more about mindset, attitude, desire, trust, teamwork, and chemistry, all things not highly dependent on innate “physical” talent. I just hope Pop has some magic left up his sleeve to motivate this team to play tough, smart defense as a unit. I think he’s got quite a challenge on his hands, but we do appear to have a good group of guys. But that’s where the big question mark resides for this team.

    We better “D” up in Charlotte on Monday, because that team is going to “D” us up. If we match their “D” we win because we have the better offense. Let’ move to 5-1 on Monday and make a move to catch those upstart Hornets for the division lead by next week!

    P.S. We took much better care of the ball tonight (just 11 turnovers, and a +5), which was a big key in this game. I’m sure Pop was a broken-record about that topic since Wednesday!

  • grego

    To think about all this optimistically.

    Spurs probably would have lost this game last year. Even though they are struggling to put it all together, they are still winning so at least, they’ll have good positioning while they finally put it together rather than having the pressure to win every game down the stretch.

    If we follow the old ways of the Spurs starting slow, then this would be a prime example of starting slow.

    And yes, it’s shocking to see how little the Rockets had after the two in game injuries. However, a lot of teams take their foot off the pedal once the key guys are out. Spurs have done it to teams as well when they were missing key guys.

  • rob

    “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.”

    It’s not the first time a team (any team) without key players participating, play out of their mind during a brief stint.

    I think most of that is due to not knowing/preparing for the intangibles an unfamiliar lineup can bring to the court. But once the “new” had worn off… the Spurs locked down on D. That plus many times opposing so called better players (and I wouldn’t call it not respecting) just don’t gear up to play at their best when facing so called sub par talent.

    The mention and evidence of the lack of interior D still makes me scratch my head on the Quinn signing. And Tiago didn’t have as good of a game he probably should of had regarding the circumstances. Thank God for a very dependable older player in McDyess and the Dr. Jeckyl transformation of Richard Jefferson into this beast of a player.

    And I agree with Grego on this…

    “Spurs probably would have lost this game last year. Even though they are struggling to put it all together,”

  • Bankshot21

    4-1…I’ll take it. In the words of Herman Edwards: “You play to win the game”….we may have lost the game last year. Nice observation. And we will get better. These things as avid Spurs fans we know. TD is almost averaging 2 blocks a game with clutch blocks and boards. I’m not sure what more you guys can expect from him. His man to man D is still up there its just his help D that is in decline. 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. Its rare I conform to the mass opinion but the Quinn signing doesn’t add up to me either. I do however have the utmost respect for our FO and I know if a mistake was made it will be correct faster than a new york minute. And before I go how about that move from Manu?! I’m a huge TD fan and wanted him to get the ball on the block but that move Manu put on that kid was just plain old NASTY!!!!! This team has pretty good chemistry already. Can’t wait to play the upper echelon of the league.

  • Horacio

    On one hand….its nice to see them face some adversity and come through with a W. It should not have been against this depleted Houtson team.

    I’m looking to see some ugly blowouts that allow Pop to empty the Bench, get into ‘Gee-time’ and whatnot, let guys like Tiago get out there and play extended minutes. He’s shown flashes but certainly needs some more seasoning.

  • bduran

    I think we did a decent job conserving minutes considering we had the same unit in for the whole overtime. We win in regulation and only TP has more than 35 min.

    As far as them not having Yao, Brooks, or Martin in the 4th and OT … so what? Those guys are a big part of their 0-4 start. They have only one guy who’s really played well so far, Scola, and he was there the whole time. We were winning when Brooks went out and we were winning when Martin went out.

    Splitter is starting to look like our best big, other than TD, when it comes to post defense, but he’s got a ways to go until he becomes a complete player. He needs to rebound better to get more minutes.

    Blair is looking a whole lot better and he was great on the glass. He’s player better on D he got us more than the 8 boards he secured himself. This is why he was tied for a team high +13 even though he only played 21 minutes.

    Manu and TD are who they are. TP is looking like he can fulfill our hopes of a return to form. I keep waiting for RJ to return to earth and I still think he will. However, there is no doubt that he is much improved. He never came to close to putting together a 5 game stretch last year like the one he’s played the last 5 games. I think we will see a solid RJ all season long.

    Last year we were better than our 50 win record because of all the close games we lost early in the season. Those games really hurt our seeding in a tight west race. Right now we’re definitely not playing like a team that should win 80% of it’s games, but we have lots of time to improve and every win counts.

  • DieHardSpur

    I am really happy for RJ. His play has been outstanding so far, I hope it continues. Why in the hell do we need another point guard? Has POP lost faith in Temple? He hasn’t given us much this year…

    I cant wait to see Tiago getting 20 plus minutes, unfortunately he doesnt have the cardio built up just yet. Does he have little hands? I cant grab a board to save his life.

    We really missed that perimeter defense from Anderson tonight. Martin can flat out score the ball.

    thats all for now.

  • zainn

    I still don’t understand why james anderson didn’t play. I would’ve liked to see him play over gary neal, he is shooting the three almost as well as him and plays much better defense.

  • Dingo

    I was wondering why anderson didn’t play but read he was at home for birth of first child. He will be back next game.

  • quincyscott

    I don’t think the Spurs are consciously trying to allow a bunch of dribble penetration. That would certainly violate everything we know about a Popovich team. They have a sound defensive plan. That just aren’t executing it successfully. Poor perimeter defense, and poor pick-and-roll defense, mainly, plus bad positioning for defensive rebounds. They are starting to make needed stops once in a while, which is a good thing. But even then, those stops are not typical Spurs stops. Last night, the two biggest plays of the game involved a steal by Parker and a forced turnover by Ginobilli. Historically, the Spurs have not practiced the kind of defense that causes a lot of steals, preferring to stay in solid defensive position and force contested shots. Right now this is not happening on a consistent basis, and I’m sure Pop is not happy about it. A win is a win, but the defense is going to have to get a lot tighter by season’s end if the Spurs want to make a run at the Lakers.

  • quincyscott

    On the idea of going away from Duncan in the clutch, I have never thought Tim was our go to shooter in the clutch. He is more of the solid foundation over the course of the game. Ginobilli is the kind of player who thrives in Big Moments, and I think that has been true for years. It’s not a new development.

  • ThatBigGuy

    Well, a win is a win, no matter how ugly. I don’t like how many minutes some of the guys got, but at some point you just have to say “screw it” and play for the win.

    RJ is quietly averaging 20.4 points a game on 65% shooting, including 60% from 3’s. Whatever he did this summer worked.

    I liked the 14 assists from TP. It helps when you’ve got 3 guys shooting over 40% from 3 land.

    Blair is losing the confidence of Pop. 21 minutes in an OT game when Dice got 35 minutes says to me that something’s up. I hope they get Blair straightened out, because he could really help this team.

    I’m puzzled as to why Anderson was a DNA-CD.

    Overall, nice win, 4-1 record, and it’s a legit 4-1 record. We need to lock down on D a bit better, but at least we’re not going to have scoring droughts like last year.

  • mac

    We aren’t that good, just lucky to have started out with this creampuff schedule. Compare to the Hornets early wins = no comparison. Hopefully we are taking advantage of it and learning with each of these games, and will not backside. If Jefferson is gonna be this consistent, and these guys are really learning to play together without turnovers, then that’s a start.

    But does anybody else want to see Tiago Splitter’s minutes go up each game, starting now?

    I don’t ever want to see him clock less than 15 again, and soon never less than 20. I know it was a close game, and Dice has been fantastic, but we need more. Matt Bonner is gonna start stealing minutes soon, so the time is now to get Splitter’s conditioning and familiarity up. Blair has got about ten more games, plus garbage time throughout the season to work on his jumpers, or it’s back to playing alongside Dice and Bonner until next year. Tiago needs just as much development time as Blair, to see who is the better fit this season.

    If a summer spent with RJ can be this transformative. Then I wish we had the staff to school Tiago away from the games in all the nuances of Spurs BB, get him in game shape, and plug him in for 20 minutes a night. We have no answer for Andrew Bynum, but every other team is a team our guys could frustrate to death, if we can get our priorities right.

  • quincyscott

    Folks, Anderson was attending to his fiance, who is delivering a baby. He’s trying to be a good daddy and (soon to be) husband, and it’s good that the organization supports that. I don’t know if folks just didn’t read this news, or if they just don’t think it’s a good reason to miss a game.

  • quincyscott

    I think Splitter is going to be a solid NBA player. I wasn’t so sure until I actually watched him play against NBA competition. His minutes will go up this year, and I think this will help our defense. Also, Anderson will help our perimeter defense.

    Right now the Spurs are number 3 in the NBA in points per game. But we’re number 11 in point differential. I feel like I’m in an alternate universe, or that someone conked me on the head and turned me into a Suns fan.

  • td4life

    I’m looking forward to seeing how well we bring it against Charlotte tommorrow, and am interested in the matchups. Will it be a nice opportunity to develop Tiago, whenever Diaw is not on the floor? (Or is it too early to speculate that Splitter will be our fifth big as a backup center?) Also anticipating seeing Anderson log some quality time against their Big 2.

    I expect a much more solid performance for 48 minutes. After the next 3 games, we need to be looking much improved.

  • lvmainman

    The Spurs need another big man, not Chris Quinn. They need a shot blocker.

    Defense is definitely lacking.

  • http://nbamatchup.com Chris in Phoenix

    @lvmainman

    That’s why I’m hoping Ryan Richards will come back fully healthy and with a high Spurs IQ!

  • DNITCH

    Really the only thing that we can hope for is the continued development of Blair and Splitter, I mean even if the Spurs were able to get a shot blocking big, where would he find any minutes?

  • Hobson13

    lvmainman
    November 7th, 2010 at 9:54 am
    “The Spurs need another big man, not Chris Quinn. They need a shot blocker.”

    I agree. Quinn will provide us with virtually nothing. They guy probably won’t even be in the league much longer. Someone on this blog suggested we look at Earl Barron. I think that’s a good idea. We could use another big body on this team even when Tiago is playing for 20-25 min/night.

    Misc. thoughts:

    Don’t look now, but Tony is averaging 8.4 assists/game. He is well ahead of other very good PG’s like Nash, Billups, Westbrook, and Harris. I suspect one reason his assits are up is due to RJ’s resurrection.

    Regarding Tiago, I bet Pop will begin to crank up his minutes here within the next couple of weeks. One thing I’m still concerned about is his ability to rebound. While rebounding, he lost several balls that he should have caught. Are his hands too small? Is he not concentrating enough? Is he still getting used to the game. This is an ongoing occurrence with Splitter. Oh well, he’ll probably iron these issues out as the season goes along.

    If we can simply get one more big/shot blocker, I think we have a chance at being a VERY good team. This season, our perimeter scoring is highly proficient even though Hill and Anderson have been injured or are still learning. As many have already said, we don’t need another ball handler, we need another big.

    Regarding RJ, I wonder how many corner 3’s he shot this summer. So far he’s been an absolute beast on those corners. If he continues to play like this, he will be in the running for MIP.

  • ThatBigGuy

    @quincyscott

    I’ve searched all over for the Anderson story and can’t find anything. You have a link?

  • Hobson13
  • Ed

    Is it possible the Spurs are even worse at the FT line than last year? They’re terrible. The defense needs to improve but I like what I’m seeing so far. Look forward to Splitter getting involved.

  • td4life

    Hobson13–
    “If we can simply get one more big/shot blocker, I think we have a chance at being a VERY good team.”

    This is nothing new is it? Last winter, I was begging for Camby + Tyrus Thomas. Two summers ago, more of the same. Last summer I was asking for Tyson Chandler, or at least Turiaf, and was willing to sacrifice a lot, even D Blair, to win now, even if it meant hurting our outlook for the post-Duncan era. The only glimmer we got that the FO shared these concerns was the fantasy that we were trying to trade up for Derrick Favors (who is not a 19 year old shot-blocker, but wouldn’t ya’ll just about kill to have him on the team?), even though we have nothing that the Sixers or Nets would want.

    Meanwhile, Jim Henderson spent alot of time suggesting marginal back-ups to address some of this. That didn’t happen either. I like the idea of a raw project better, and wonder what it would have cost us to pry away DeAndre Jordon, alot methinks.

    So we have seen NO indication that we would go after Earl Barron, not that he is the answer… we need a quality defensive big, not a true third stringer.

    Mac–
    Your suggestion concerning training Splitter is just not how things are done in the NBA. Unfortunately. Personally, I’d hire Oberto as a bigman coach today and set up a practice schedule. And then send him and Ryan Richards to Austin, later in the season. Done and done.

    But Pop & RC obviously believe that our bigs are enough. The Bonner contract was a slap in the face of our championship formula. Blair and Splitter are gonna have to surprise us and everyone else, from this moment forward, for Pop to look like he assembled our roster correctly.

    It looks like the Big 4 + Dice are playing to win it all this season, but we have too many really good smalls, while overestimating our chances. Without even mentioning our starting smalls (RJ is looking untradeable right now, thankfully), I absolutely love Anderson, Hill, and maybe Neal’s strongest advocate, and grasp that we need such depth to protect our health, but sadly what it comes down to is nothing short of this, as stated by DNITCH:

    “Really the only thing that we can hope for is the continued development of Blair and Splitter, I mean even if the Spurs were able to get a shot blocking big, where would he find any minutes?”
    (Unless you are talking trade, of course. And rememeber, in true Chris Wallace-style, we pulled a loyalty overpay for Bonner.)

  • ThatBigGuy

    @ Hobson13

    I ALWAYS forget mysanantonio.com. Thanks for the link. I’m stoked for Anderson.

  • Jim Henderson

    Bankshot21
    November 7th, 2010 at 6:24 am

    “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.”

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

    ThatBigGuy
    November 7th, 2010 at 8:48 am

    “Blair is losing the confidence of Pop. 21 minutes in an OT game when Dice got 35 minutes says to me that something’s up.”

    Blair was in foul trouble most of the game. Got called on a couple of cheap ones. Ended up with five for the game. Also, Dice had an unusually sharp performance, and Bonner is still out. I wouldn’t read any more into than that.

    mac
    November 7th, 2010 at 9:07 am

    “But does anybody else want to see Tiago Splitter’s minutes go up each game, starting now?

    “I don’t ever want to see him clock less than 15 again, and soon never less than 20.”

    Splitter is still not close to in game shape. When he gets there he’ll see more minutes, but he’s also going to have to get his rebound rate up. Also, I have my doubts that Duncan & Splitter together will work that well. They may be too slow together, with TD aging, and slower, and Splitter’s lateral quickness a bit suspect out on the perimeter. The better combo’s are likely to be Duncan/Blair, or Duncan/McDyess, and Splitter/Blair or Splitter/McDyess. Bonner is a situational guy that probably plays better with Blair in an up tempo offense. I’m not saying that Duncan & Splitter won’t play some together, but merely that it may in fact not be the best combo in many match-ups.

  • grego

    @Ed – Spurs are shoting at 76% right now. Last year they shot 74% from the free throw line. They are shooting better than last year.

    RJ and Duncan are the culprits so far for the bad shooting. However, Parker (a career 73% shooter) is shooting 88.9% from the free throw line.

  • Jim Henderson

    td4life
    November 7th, 2010 at 12:29 pm

    “Meanwhile, Jim Henderson spent alot of time suggesting marginal back-ups to address some of this. That didn’t happen either. I like the idea of a raw project better, and wonder what it would have cost us to pry away DeAndre Jordon, alot methinks.”

    Just so you’re clear on this, I was looking to upgrade our front line to the greatest extent we could through trade, free agency, draft, etc. I only become focused on “marginal” back-ups when it became clear to me that the FO was not interested in trading valuable assets to acquire a more “studly” or dominant big (I was against resigning Bonner). With our cap situation, and minus a big trade, “marginal” bigs were our only feasible option. Thus, I strongly advocated for Amundson, a guy that could admirably fill a key niche on this team at this time, and the guy ended up signing for just 2.4 mil. on a non-playoff team (I also mentioned trying to get D. Jordan via trade with the Clippers). If we really wanted him at the time, it sure seems like we would have had a good shot. And you’re right, the idea of missing a defensive/shot-blocking big right now is far from “news”.

    “But Pop & RC obviously believe that our bigs are enough.”

    To my chagrin, that’s exactly right. The nail in the coffin was signing Bonner for 16 mil. over 4 years, because then you’re paying too much to have Bonner as your 6th big (that is if we wanted to get a defender as our 5th big).

  • ThatBigGuy

    @ td4life

    Chris Broussard wrote on Friday this following paragraph:

    “With the Cleveland Cavaliers looking to move on from the LeBron James Era, clubs are calling about Anderson Varejao, an energetic role player who would help any contender. Portland has interest, and San Antonio, with ex-Cavs GM Danny Ferry now in its front office, is also a team to keep an eye on. After contending for titles the past few seasons, Varejao wouldn’t mind being dealt to an elite club either, according to sources. So stay tuned.”

    I think Varejao would be incredible, but what price do we pay to get him here? Bonner can’t be traded until Dec 15, so I can’t use him in the Trade Machine. However, a Dice/Temple/Gee combo works financially, but the Cavs won’t do that trade. A Splitter/Dice combo works financially, but trading 2 bigs for 1 big doesn’t feel right.

    The main problem for us trading for Big V is that all of our supporting cast, i.e. guys that are tradable, all have very low salaries. This means it would have to be a 3 for 1 or a 4 for 1 deal. There would almost have to be a 3rd team involved, and I’m too lazy to mess with that on the Trade Machine. All the 2 team trades I came up with gave us an estimated +4 wins.

    Maybe someone can throw down on a 3 team trade on the Trade Machine and make things happen?

  • td4life

    Jim Henderson–
    yup, our outlook comes back to the matt bonner contract.

    Regarding Splitter being a non-fit defensively with TD, that doesn’t bode well for next season after McD retires. By neccessity, Splitter would be nothing more than TD’s backup. I guess it comes down to matchups… against the likes of Gasol/Bynum, we will have to see what our two longest guys can do together, especially once McD is gone.

  • td4life

    ThatBigGuy–
    sorry, that’s not gonna happen. This year we get to see how accurrate Pop was in his assesment that all we needed was health and a better bench. Going forward, our only solution would be either giving up a lot in a trade, or we continuing to pull steals out of nowhere. Ben Wallace was undrafted, so who knows.

  • Jim Henderson

    td4life
    November 7th, 2010 at 1:45 pm

    “Regarding Splitter being a non-fit defensively with TD, that doesn’t bode well for next season after McD retires. By neccessity, Splitter would be nothing more than TD’s backup.”

    Perhaps, but Splitter can still be valuable in our rotation with 25-30 mpg. But yeah, with an aging TD, I just don’t see that Splitter solves our LA problem. Splitter today with Duncan 5-6 years ago might have worked, as long as we get more than expected in development out of our perimeter “D” over this season.

  • rj

    our frontcourt is too cute. tiago is going to be a solid position, pick and roll defender, but not a rim protector. seems like a stretch 4 isnt necesarry anymore. duncan does’t get doubled and we are getting all the threes we can handle from neal, anderson, jeff, and manu. too bad bonner’s contract is toxic. we may have to look at a low cost big. i think we had one last near who was foul prone and never saw the floor. is varajao a good shot blocker? we already have a varajao on our tea

  • Hobson13

    td4life
    November 7th, 2010 at 12:29 pm

    “This is nothing new is it?”

    No. My statement about needing another shot blocker has been an issue that many of us (including you and Henderson) have discussed in the past. I only state the obvious now because our team looks to have so much potential with our young guys PLUS we it appears that we have a great deal of offensive firepower. This seems to be the last piece keeping us from being mentioned in the Miami, LA, Boston discussion.

    Jim’s right about Amundson. A number of us were scratching our head when the FO passed on making him an offer. As it turns out, we would have been able to make him a highly competetive offer and he might have gone a long way towards shoring up our big/shot blocking issues.

    td4life
    November 7th, 2010 at 1:45 pm
    “Jim Henderson–yup, our outlook comes back to the matt bonner contract.”

    Count me in on the disgust. The Bonner contract was the stupidest thing the FO has done in a while. Hell, even their risky moves of signing RJ for more than he’s worth and giving guaranteed money to Gary Neal have already paid off handsomely. Bonner can only give us 3pt. shooting (which it looks like we’ve at least partially remedied this issue with RJ, Neal, and Anderson) in non-clutch situations. We should have let Bonner walk and used that money in a more profitable manner.

    Jim Henderson
    November 7th, 2010 at 2:18 pm
    “Perhaps, but Splitter can still be valuable in our rotation with 25-30 mpg. But yeah, with an aging TD, I just don’t see that Splitter solves our LA problem.”

    Yes, I agree. Perhaps he can surprise us, but I’m not counting on it. Splitter will be a good post defender, but he’s never been known as a good shot blocker and will probably have trouble with the size of both Bynum and Gasol.

    With Chris Kaman struggling mightly in LA, I would love for us to make a run at getting him. With Kaman, Duncan, Splitter, and Blair, we’d have more than enough to contend with the Lakers front line. When I figure out a way to dupe Donald Sterling into giving him up for a bag of Reeses Pieces, I’ll let everybody know because I don’t think we have anything the Clips want. I do like someone’s idea of getting DeAndre Jordan. Perhaps we could get him for Garrett Temple plus a second round pick??

  • rj

    anyone else think it was stupid to rest yao and activate him against the crappy wolves? seems like they aren’t managing him well. yao has to play. they don’t have the luxury to rest their best player while being 0-5

  • Flavor

    Duncan still gets doubled, just not as soon as he catches the ball.

  • Brian in Seattle

    Maybe we can get Kevin Willis.