Another night, another Spurs blowout
AT&T CENTER — When a blowout occurs like the 126-96 massacre that took place in the AT&T Center on Saturday night, it’s often a result of a fluky confluence of factors. One team was unconscionably hot; the other was not. The Spurs were on the right side of that formula this time.
“[Cleveland is] not as bad as it seemed tonight, and we’re not as good as it seemed,” Gregg Popovich said. “We just had one of those nights in a positive direction; they had one in the other.
“That’s a young team. We got them on a bad night.”
The Spurs outscored the Cavaliers 30-21 in the first quarter then blitzed them 35-11 in the second. That means San Antonio led 65-32 at halftime (MATH!). That also means the game was basically over by then, but not before Matt Bonner took an opportunity to do something he never gets to do: run the point.
With just more than a minute remaining in the half, Bonner scrambled for a defensive rebound and collided a bit with Tony Parker. He gathered himself, looked at Parker and attempted to hand him the ball. But Tony wanted no part of it, raising his hands in a gesture of refusal. So, naturally, Bonner turned around, raised one finger in the air and started to dribble up the floor before smiling and thinking better of it moments later.
“I called an ‘iso’ for me, obviously. I would’ve dribbled through everybody and dunked it,” Bonner explained afterward. “Unfortunately, Tony came back and got the ball. He ruined it. I would’ve been No. 1 in the Top 10 on ESPN.”
Sadly, we may have seen the Red Mamba’s final career isolation play. Which also probably happened to be his first.
“Matty likes to screw with me every once in a while,” Pop revealed, grinning all the while. “He’ll be out there with the ball and get his teammates laughing a bit because he knows I’m going to jump up off my seat.
“Matty will never get a (play) call for him, ever, while I’m here.”
It was easy to make it all about fun and games for the now 12-1 Spurs. It was their tenth consecutive win, and they’re now just one win away from tying the franchise record for best start to a season. All those “issues” that have been popping up over the first month of the season — the perimeter-shooting struggles of Tim Duncan and Kawhi Leonard and the mediocre offense — were no-shows against Cleveland, and we probably got our first view of what this team looks like when everything is clicking.
And it was impressive.
San Antonio shot 57 percent from the floor, including a staggering 16-of-24 from the 3-point line, and notched 30 assists in the process. Five players scored in double figures, the bench scored 69 points (!) and no player on the active roster scored fewer than six points. Hell, even Nando De Colo put in eight points, as many as he’s scored all season.
The Spurs had a season high in points at the half and in the game, 3-point field goals made, field-goal percentage, assists and bench points. So it was a decent night. And all these numbers are beginning to pile up. San Antonio is beating opponents by an average of 13.2 points per 100 possessions, which is tops in the league.
At one point early in the third quarter on Saturday, the Spurs led the Cavs 75-32 following a 10-0 run to start the half. It was surreal to look up and see those kind of numbers at that time of the game, but it was just that kind of night — one where everything happened seamlessly.
Tiago Splitter had 10 points in 10 minutes on a variety of shots we’ve all become convinced he doesn’t have (except that he’s showing us otherwise right now); Duncan had a dunk, a bank shot and a mid-range jumper, alleviating some of the concern that’s been creeping up on folks not accustomed to seeing Timmy struggle; Parker had 12 points and seven assists in just 15 minutes, and he looks as good as ever; Kawhi Leonard is consistently cerebral; Danny Green is on fire again and playing the best defense of his career; Boris Diaw is a score-first power forward now, somehow; Marco Belinelli has been a perfect fit; Patty Mills has secured his spot as the clear-cut backup point guard; and Manu Ginobili is holding a passing clinic on a nightly basis.
Whichever adjective you’d like to use to describe what this team is doing right now — methodical, machine-like, effortless — they all work. The Spurs are one game away from tying the franchise record for best start to a season (13-1), and the Pelicans are coming to town on Monday.
There really is something to be said about roster consistency and “corporate knowledge,” as the Spurs call it. With the exception of a few new guys, every player knows exactly what the others are doing, what they’re about to do and what they’re about to be thinking about doing (ehh.. yeah that works). It’s still insanely early and the schedule is about to get a lot tougher, but what we’re watching is nothing short of amazing.
I don’t know why we come away so impressed that they’re still able to do this year after year after year, but it’s just so uncommon around the NBA. As players swap teams and organizations change personnel on a yearly basis, here the Spurs are — same-old, same-old.
Well, maybe. They might actually be better. But there’s still a long way to go, so just enjoy the show for now.
Video side note: Just the fact that they all get so pumped about nailing the prank on Duncan is the best thing ever. The discussion in the media workroom following the game revolved around why Duncan was so upset by being burned by an empty Gatorade cup placed under his bum.
He reacted more demonstratively than he does when he misses a shot he shouldn’t have. There must be some sort of game going on here. Something that’s been ongoing. We’ll be on top of this investigation, and whenever we find out we’ll certainly spread the news.