San Antonio Spurs 102, Charlotte Bobcats 78: BAYNES
AT&T CENTER — Let’s be honest with ourselves here. The only thing remotely interesting about this game was the fact that we got to see new signing Aron Baynes in a regular game situation, not the manic finish we saw in Dallas on Friday night.
The Bobcats have the worst record in the league and they came into the AT&T Center facing the team with the best record in the NBA. A 102-78 win is exactly what you would expect from this game. Tony Parker led the way for the Spurs with 22 points (on 9-of-10 shooting) and seven assists. Kawhi Leonard had 18 points and five rebounds on 4-of-5 from 3-point range.
Those are your particulars.
Getting past all that, the night was about Baynes. The big Aussie scored seven points and grabbed nine rebounds in the first real minutes of his NBA career. He finished 3-of-7 from the field, but the three field goals were all dunks or tip-ins around the rim. The four misses included a couple of hook shots (one after picking up a loose ball around his feet) and a turnaround jumper with the shot clock running down.
“He did a good job. He got a little winded,” Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich said. “It was good to give him some minutes and to get a look at him. I thought he did a fine job.”
I think we got pretty much everything we expected to see from Baynes tonight. As the night wore on, he seemed to get his timing down and adjust to the speed of the game. In the first quarter, Ramon Sessions got a layup in under Baynes because Sessions was able to quickly get the ball up and off the backboard before Baynes had time to react to it. In the second half, Baynes blocked a similar attempt from Sessions right at the rim.
Offensively, Baynes picked up a couple of fouls for illegal screens, which makes sense. Mike Budenholzer raved about his pick-setting abilities when Baynes was introduced last week, and he did a good job. But guys coming over from Europe have to make adjustments to the way NBA refs call illegal screens. Considering Baynes played college ball at Washington State, I don’t imagine that the adjustment period will take as long as it does for guys who play internationally their whole careers.
Otherwise we saw some good footwork from Baynes when rolling to the basket. He’s almost Splitter-like in how he moves in those situations. Unlike Splitter and the rest of the Spurs bigs, though, Baynes has the athleticism to go up and get a lob pass if it’s a decent enough toss. Baynes’ first points in a Spurs uniform came on a big dunk off a pick-and-roll feed from Tony Parker.
One of the interesting things regarding Baynes that I found from this game was how quietly he went about getting his rebounds. Not that rebounds are particularly eye-catching, but I figured he had four or five in the second half and checking the box score I discovered he already had eight. Considering how poorly Charlotte shot on the evening (41 percent), he could’ve pulled down four without really trying.
The Spurs were missing three big men on the night and Baynes logged about 18 minutes of playing time. With a full roster, he probably wouldn’t have sniffed the floor until garbage time. Thankfully, Baynes made his first legit appearance in silver and black and we were treated to some intrigue in what otherwise would’ve been a lackluster January game.
A few other notes for you following the Spurs’ win over the Bobcats
- With the win, Gregg Popovich is locked in to being the head coach of the Western Conference All-Stars for the third time. This is the first time he’ll be there with Tony Parker, which is one of those strange-but-true things. The All-Star game is both the perfect and complete opposite fit for Pop. It’s a glorified pickup game that goes against everything the Spurs are about on the court, and yet the entire weekend is ridiculous enough that Gregg Popovich is surely able to take a step back and see how strange it all is.
- For the first time in a while, the Spurs had a really good shooting game from the perimeter, led by Leonard and Danny Green. Leonard as mentioned previously had knocked down 4-of-5 3-pointers, while Icy Hot hit all three of his 3-point attempts. As a team, the Spurs hit 9-of-16 from behind the arc.
- After shootaround, it was announced that Tim Duncan would sit out again with soreness in his left knee and DeJuan Blair would sit with what the team called “right knee effusion.” Shortly before tip-off, the team announced that Matt Bonner would also rest with right knee effusion. Whatever that is. No word on anyone’s availability for Saturday night yet.