A quick note on that 40-point third quarter
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.