A quick note on that 40-point third quarter

by

AT&T CENTER — Lost in the shuffle of Gary Neal’s career night may have been the lines put up by DeJuan Blair and Tim Duncan. DeBeast put up 10 points, eight rebounds and four assists in his 23 minutes on the floor — though he had a team-high four turnovers also — with most of his damage coming in the Spurs 40-point third quarter.

That period showed Blair and Tim Duncan at the height of their powers together. Both have a strong knowledge of timing and spacing and together they dominated the Suns down low. Take it with a grain of salt, though, as the Suns frontline featured heavy doses of Channing Frye, Hakim Warrick, Josh Childress, Grant Hill and Robin Lopez.

“Tim is just smart, he is never going to rush and is so fundamentally sound, it just makes it very difficult,” Suns Head Coach Alvin Gentry said.

Duncan posted numbers of 12 points, nine rebounds and four assists in the third, and Blair had totals of six points, four rebounds and three assists.

“Tim Duncan was really magnificent in the third quarter,” Spurs Head Coach Gregg Popovich said after the game. “He really kept us together as a group, we executed really well as he was in.”

Duncan finished with a throwback line of 20 points, 15 rebounds, six assists and three blocks. Fantasy owners around the world were pleased. Interestingly enough, the Spurs shot 30 free throws on the night and not a one by Duncan.

One point of contention this year regarding Blair has been his lack of jump shot, or rather, a lack of confidence in his jump shot — both from Blair and Spurs fans. And while Blair didn’t take a traditional jumper against Phoenix, his floater that he debuted during the preseason made a couple of appearances.

Also on display was the passing ability that convinced Gregg Popovich that Blair and Duncan could be paired together this season, despite Blair’s inability to stretch the floor as a shooter. Blair finished the game with four assists, but could have had a couple more if the Spurs didn’t finish 8-for-29 (27.6%) from the 3-point line.

Defensively, the Spurs encouraged the Suns to shoot five 3-pointers. Phoenix made just one. Defending the Nash-Frye pick-and-pop, Blair doubled Nash coming off the pick and then tried to recover back to Frye. Luckily, Frye struggled to knock down shots, he was 0-of-3 in the quarter and missed both his 3s.

But as with the rest of the Spurs, the Blair-Duncan tandem won’t be measured by the performances put up against Phoenix. Even with a league-best 24-3 record, we won’t know where this team stands until next Tuesday, when the Los Angeles Lakers come to town.

  • SpursfanSteve

    My only complaints with Blair’s game last night were not chasing Frye off the 3 point line, and the 4 turnovers. I only remember 2 of them, but one was the travel call where he rushed and tried to do too much, and the other was the offensive foul when he picked up his dribble, jumped, then tried to pass. He needs to stay on the ground unless he’s going up for a shot. Both are mistakes young guys tend to make.

    I’ve been saying for a long time, though, that hes a superb passer for a big man. Thats one of the things I enjoy most about his game. His bounce pass to Tim down low between two defenders was excellent.

  • TD = Best Ever

    Totally a side note here :

    But even David Thorpe thinks that Anthony Randolph will produce for SA. This is from this mornings Live chat on ESPN……

    VW (NYC)

    Which coach could get something out of Anthony Randolph?
    David Thorpe
    (12:51 PM)

    Pop. With TD helping a ton.

    And he will be CHEAP – like 2 draft picks and money cheap – hell we can get him and just cut Ime and still not loose any depth and have all that extra size………..

    LETS MAKE IT HAPPEN

  • Daniel T

    TD=B.E.

    Since the Spurs are over the salary cap, don’t they have to get rid of nearly $2M in salary before they could add Randoph? Ime won’t do it.

    If they could work out a trade, is there any particular reason to give him the minutes that already Tiago is not getting? Hard to produce when you’re not in games. Tiago is not getting many minutes with the 24-3 Spurs, but he’s got nearly twice as many minutes as Randolph has with the 16-12 Knicks.

  • TD = Best Ever

    @ Daniel T

    No Not really – they don’t have to get rid on any players – They will try to stay under the Luxury Tax which I think they are about 1.5 million under right now…………..If they are closer than that then we would need to explore a cheaper option……

  • duaneofly

    TD=Best Ever, to add Anthony Randolph, without giving up any players, we’d have to be under the salary cap, not the luxury tax cap. Those are two different caps. We are over the salary cap, thus we’d have to come within 10% of Randolph’s salary to trade for him to my knowledge.

    I agree with Daniel T., if there are no minutes for Tiago, there aren’t going to be any minutes for Randolph. Tiago isn’t playing because he sucks, it’s because he’s had a busy year of playing basketball, has had a couple injuries, and we are still winning even without him.

  • duaneofly

    Here’s the numbers for trading while over the cap:

    Teams above the cap (or teams below the cap but would end up more than $100,000 over the cap following a trade) cannot acquire more than 125% plus $100,000 of the salary they trade away. There is no lower limit—teams may divest themselves of as much salary as they wish in a trade.

  • TD = Best Ever

    @ duaneofly

    Then Give up IME – and then the cash and a draft pick………….. And If SPLITTER Needs more rest – than yes there are minutes for him……….. POP can not be happy with Bonner playing 20+ minutes a game.

    So there are some minutes for a PF that’s READY 2 PLAY!!!!!!!!!

    But we will see how bad we need one here in the next 2 weeks when we start playing BIGGER and BETTER teams……..

  • http://nbamatchup.com Chris in Phoenix

    I have 2 very random questions:

    Does anybody know if James Anderson will be back before the All Star break?

    Has anybody heard if Ryan Richards will play for the Austin Toros when he’s healthy or if he’s already gone back to Spain for rehab?

  • SpursfanSteve

    If Pop wasnt happy with Bonner playing 20 minutes+ a game, then Bonner wouldnt be playing 20 minutes a game. Like it or not, he’s a huge part of our offense now and his defense hasnt been horrible this year. Most nights he’s definitely bringing more than he’s taking away. Best to just accept that.

  • SpursfanSteve

    (for what its worth, I’m not opposed to the trade- he’s a promising young big and we’d be giving up nothing to get him. But I also agree that theres no playing time for him right now.)

  • duaneofly

    Ime, plus our trade exceptions could work, except Ime can’t be traded until 3 months after being signed, or Dec. 15th, whichever is later. So that wouldn’t work.

    As for Bonner, the past few years I hated seeing him on the court, but this year, Bonner has definitely improved.

    I’m also part of the “if it’s not broke, don’t fix it” crowd. Yes, we’ll have trouble defending some big guys, but other teams are going to have trouble defending our guards and depth. The Lakers aren’t going to be able to play a lineup of Kobe, Artest, Odom, Bynum, Gasol for 48 minutes a game, in a 7 game series against us. They’d need to though, because Fisher, Blake, Brown, and Barnes aren’t going to be able to handle TP, Manu, and RJ.

    Also, if we can get the first seed, with Dallas and LA being 2 & 3, they’d beat each other up in the second round before facing us in the WCF.

    I guess my point is, we’re playing too well, and it’s too early in the season to be worrying about trading our 5th big (tiago) for another team’s benchwarmer (randolph). Keep in mind, even with how great Dallas has been so far this season, they are still two games behind us in the standings and the Lakers haven’t come out as blazing as they have the past few years, maybe they’re the team that’s becoming too old and injury prone now.

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

    @Chris in Phoenix

    I heard earlier this season that Richards signed a new 2-year deal to stay overseas, but I can’t find anything to confirm that. If he did indeed sign a new contract, he won’t be able to appear for the Toros at all.

  • Dr. Love

    In other NBA news, Armenian fans are disappointed that Kobe’s not out raping Turkish women, or something along those lines.

  • Dr. Love

    And if we trade Ime Udoka for Pau Gasol, we’ll be in a lot stronger shape when we play the Lakers.

  • jason

    There are always ways of getting players that aren’t very expensive. The spurs have two trade exceptions totaling about 1.5 mil. We can always sign and then trade any player to a min contract and we have the BAE and remander of the lle for about two mil each, so a deal could get done

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

    @ TD = Best Ever
    Give up the dream, man. Multiple draft picks for a NY benchwarmer is a bad trade. RC has done a superb job of turning those very draft picks into solid Spur players. Why give them up to get a guy who doesn’t play, and we already have a solid 5-man rotation in the front court.
    @ Dr. Love Nice comment. People seem to forget in their trade scenarios that most of the time the other team would NEVER agree to such a deal. Let’s face it, most Spurs players (especially Blair) are far more valuable to the Spurs than to potential trade partners. Most of these trades are speculative pipe-dreams….

  • Flavor

    Pipe dreams! Haha. Must be some good stuff in that pipe!!!

  • Daniel T

    Trade exceptions cannot be combined with other trade exceptions nor with players. You can use one trade exception plus draft choices and/or cash considerations to obtain a player whose salary basically matches the amount of the trade exception.
    The only way to get Randolph would be to trade away players whose combined salaries would come close to matching him. Ime can’t be traded until the exact date of the trade deadline (3 months after he was signed). Quinn can only be traded shortly before then. That means trading away one or more players of the top ten in order to get Randolph.
    I’m guessing someone will suggest trading Bonner. That would put NY over their cap, so they’d have to move someone besides Randolph if they were to take in Bonner. There would be no easy way for the Spurs to acquire Randolph, a player that is playing less for the Knicks that Tiago is playing for the Spurs.

  • Daniel T

    The only way that Ryan Richards could play for the Toros is if he signed an NBA contract with the Spurs and they then assigned him to the Toros. He would then be considered a rookie this year, and next year would be the last year that the Spurs could assign him to the Toros. After that, at the age of 21, he’d likely become the next Ian Mahinmi sitting in street clothes as he won’t have developed enough to make a contribution.

    I think the Spurs want him to stay in Europe the next two years. That would give him a chance to develop there (though he is currently recovering from a shoulder injury from what I’ve heard), and remain eligible to play for the Toros for a year or two if he is still not ready. He might be ready to contribute to the Spurs after two years in Europe, but if not they would still have the option of playing him with the Toros.

  • lvmainman

    The Spurs should look to trade for Randolph, especially if McDyess is going to retire next year and Ryan Richards won’t join the team. The Spurs could use a tall, young, athletic big on the roster.

  • td4life

    i LOVE it when the Lakers get blown out in the 4th and lose at home!

    hopefully we won’t slip up in the b2b against Denver or the Magic team that has lost 8 of 9 (beating only the Clippers).

  • DBAGuy

    … and we better beat Dallas on their home court, we need the tie-breaker.

  • Czernobog

    Is Hill expected to play against the Lakers? Any idea?

  • SG

    Dallas looks very good right now…very similar to the Spurs championship teams. Good team defense, twin towers (Chandler/Dirk) and solid bench. Jason Kidd is still playing at a very high level…only a few boards shy of a trible-double against a quality Heat team. Terry is a knockdown shooter. Butler/Marion really own that SF position. Tough team.

  • SG

    I’m so tired of hearing all this trade talk…it’s not gonna happen. Our roster will stay the same this season. We’ll have to make do with what little we have…

    Seriously though, Pop can fix the front-court in a heartbeat….all he has to do is give Splitter some playing time. Someone here mentioned that Splitter starts ahead of Nene & Varaejo on the national team….that should tell Pop something.

    The kid has potential…he just needs playing time….and pls stop mentioning that Pop is resting him…he’s had 4 months off already.

    Pop can be quite stubborn…I think it’s his best and worst quality.

  • mk

    SG-Why should Pop be playing Splitter? He missed camp, played in the summer, and still is not completely comfortable with the system. And the Spurs are winning. there is absolutely no reason to push Splitter faster than the natural curve will take him.

    It is easy to for us to say that Pop is just stubborn and doesn’t like to play new guys, but look at the level of improvement that players have had from the first to second year with the Spurs (RJ and Hill come to mind).

    The other thing to consider is that the Spurs are playing well and winning, but they will get tired. TD and Dice are a combined 134 years old. Having completely rested reserves in Anderson and Splitter could very well pay dividends in the middle part of the season.

  • MK

    Dallas looks very good, but I think they are playing closer to their maximum potential than the Spurs are. Parker, Manu, Hill, Bonner, and Neal are playing about as well as they possibly can, but TD is holding back. Splitter, Anderson, and Blair still have a ton of untapped potential (no guarantee that it can be tapped). There will come a point in the saeson when the players who are currently carrying teams will falter. I think the Spurs have more players that can step up and keep their teams afloat than the Mavs do(or the Celtics for that matter).

  • JustinFL

    Sorry, this is the first time I’ve jumped into the trade scenario and I contribute it to playing alot of NBA 2k11 lately. It does sound like a pipe dream that NY would trade Randolph for some picks and or money. But if it were true, I would wait until right at the trade deadline and see what’s up.

    There are alot of questions surrounding him. He’s played for Nelson and Dantoni, both of whom are not coaches who prize the defensive skill sets. I’ve only seen Randolph play for the Warriors when Nelson was there. It seems his athleticism is what they thought they could harness.

    If he is attainable, then he would be another “situational” big in our arsenal which may or may not be needed at some point this year. I am also in the “if it’s not broke don’t fix it” camp, but I rather have him and not need him, then the other way around.
    If, God forbid, an injury occurs to one of our frontline I’d hate to be at the mercy of another team knowing we need a situational big. In the long run, he is perfect trade bait or best case, running along side with Splitter some day.

  • irongiantkc

    Good stuff, mk. But do your math, TD and Dice combined couldn’t be more than 120 years old. 125 tops.

    SG-Help me understand why Pop needs to “fix the front court”. Are the Spurs being badly out rebounded by opponents? No. Right now, they’re 11th in the NBA in rebounds per game. This might be a big problem if the Spurs were still a half-court focused team, but they’re not. They have (surprisingly) become the best transition and fast break team in the league. That combined with the fact that the Spurs almost always have a higher shooting percentage (especially from three point range) mean that it is almost inevitable that other teams are going to have more rebounds than they do, especially on the offensive end. How is Splitter going to fit into that? Why is it important that he does? Pop’s system is complex and intuitive. It’s not like the Spurs have been blowing out their opponents lately. Pop himself has said that it wouldn’t be fair to Tiago or the team to have him out there for 30 or even 20 minutes a game to try to figure it out. If the Spurs had continued to focus on the half court style of play, I think Tiago would be getting more chances to figure things out. As it is, the Spurs can’t have Tiago sprinting down the court for a fast break only to get in somebody’s way or stumble around trying to figure out where he’s supposed to be. NBA teams have very few practices during the season. 5 on 5 practices are usually reserved for the pre-season (which Tiago was unable to play in) when they can work on establishing team plays and styles. During the season, there is so much travel, that teams typically practice the isolation plays, defenses, etc that they are thinking about implementing on the next time. This is time not spent on helping the team get used to Splitter. If we magically trade for a game changer like Melo, then the team will spend the time needed to make sure that he and the team mesh. Splitter has never shown himself to be that guy. One last thing, I watched him play a little in the FIBA World Championships and thought he was all right. I’m not sure what everybody else saw that made them think he needs to get into the game right now. Maybe if we were 14-13, but not at 24-3.

  • irongiantkc

    btw, I just looked at my post and it was really long. I’ll try to keep it shorter in the future.

  • NYC

    @irongiantkc

    Naw, it was a good read. Keep em long and to the point.

    @everyone

    I have officially joined the tired-of-trade-talks camp. I’m also starting a tired-of-complaints-about-Tiago’s-playing-time camp. Please join me.

    Winning night after night has apparently left us without real issues to discuss, so we are harping on the same imaginary ones over and over without anything changing. Pop clearly has a plan in mind about how he will utilize Tiago. The FO clearly has no plans of making any trades. Nothing you or I can say will change that. I see no point in talking about things that are not subject to change.

    To repeat the same action and expect a different result is insanity. Stop the insanity, people. Think of the children.

  • betsyduncan

    The Mavwrecks will falter, I guarantee it.

  • SpursfanSteve

    I’d like to give a giant +1 to both irongiantkc and NYC.

  • SpursfanSteve

    Although with the way he has played tonight, the “get Tiago more minutes” group is only going to get louder. Blessing and a curse :)

  • irongiantkc

    @NYC-sign me up for both camps. Also sign me up for the only-team-I’m really-afraid-of-is-the-Mavs camp.

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

    Andrew A. McNeil:

    Are you sure about Ryan Richards going back to re-sign with his Spanish team C.B. Gran Canaria? I checked their roster on Eurobasket.com and couldn’t find his name.

    # Name CM (INCH) Pos Bo NAT FR TO Former Team
    5 Green Taurean 185 (6’1”) G 85 10 11 AEK
    18 Wallace Judson 205 (6’9”) F/C 82 10 11 Benetton TV
    22 Carroll Jaycee 188 (6’2”) G 83 09 11 Banca Tercas
    7 Savane Sitapha 202 (6’8”) F 78 04 11 Tenerife
    20 Moran Jim 200 (6’7”) F/G 79 01 11 William & Mary (NCAA1)
    8 Bramos Michael 196 (6’5”) G/F 87 10 11 Peristeri GS
    33 Beiran Javier 200 (6’7”) F 87 10 11 Estudiantes
    17 Nelson Spencer 203 (6’8”) F 80 10 11 Peristeri GS
    4 Kloos Ewoud 185 (6’1”) G/F 89 09 11 Gran Canaria
    41 Rey Xavier 209 (6’10”) C 87 10 11 Regal Barca
    6 Santana Fabio 188 (6’2”) G 92 09 11 Gran Canaria
    4 Dominguez Samuel 204 (6’9”) C 91 10 11 Gran Canaria
    11 Bellas Tomas 185 (6’1”) G 87 09 11 Real Madrid II

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

    @ Chris in Phoenix

    Last I heard, he had. I can’t find him listed on their roster either, though. The only thing I can think of is that he’s not listed on the roster because he’s out with injury.