How the second half was more than won
My excitement for last night’s game was apparent in both our preview and pregame notes posts. There was no excitement. It was a Friday night and I imagined everybody in the arena was ready for the game to be over long before tip-off rolled around. Coach of the Year candidate Paul Silas brought his group of dysfunctional basketball players to the AT&T Center holding the league’s worst record in their pockets, just four wins. Through the first half the Spurs looked like kind hosts, letting Charlotte get a glimpse of victory No. 5.
San Antonio turned the ball over 10 times in the first half and only really held a 10-point lead because the Bobcats are so, so bad. Bright spots from the first half include Tony Parker’s 6-8 shooting and everything Byron Mullens did for the Bobcats. Looking at the box score, you wouldn’t think that the Spurs’ big surge would’ve come in the second half. The Spurs shot better in the first half, and they played better field goal defense in the first half.
Then they had seven steals and forced 12 turnovers, turning into 15 points, in the second half. Yep, that’s where your blowout was made right there.
This is usually the time of year where Gregg Popovich tightens his rotations and finds out who’s going to cut it in the playoffs and who’s going to be playing as much as me. So far this season, everybody in uniform has been fair game. The only guys who can realistically expect to play little were Cory Joseph, James Anderson and whatever D-League call-up is on the roster.
Going into the playoffs, Pop usually runs with an 8.5 man rotation. Eight guys who play solid minutes and then one guy who plays a little bit every night. Now that we’re solidly in the post-Rodeo Road Trip and post-All-Star Weekend portion of the schedule, Pop is usually figuring out that rotation.
But with the murder’s row of injuries the Spurs faced this season, are they at that point yet? Kind of.
“We think about rotations every day, basically because guys are coming back,” Gregg Popovich said before the game. “Kawhi went down and then Manu was coming back and then he wasn’t, TJ is coming back and he’s sort of back and he needs to get minutes, and then Danny hurt his shoulder the other night.”
Sounds fun to deal with. I’m picturing the Spurs with an Excel spreadsheet to keep up of every injury and each player’s status in their return. You know what, you’re right, the Spurs are probably Google Docs folks. My mistake.
“So we think about it every day, how we’re going to keep the rhythm without screwing it up. That’s always an ongoing thing.”
If I told you the Spurs would shoot 14 of 21 from the free throw line and that Kawhi Leonard would be 6-6, would you believe me?