San Antonio Spurs 114, Detroit Pistons 75: Tim Duncan looks like the Tim Duncan of 2012

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AT&T CENTER — When Tony Parker went down with a sprained ankle in the San Antonio Spurs’ win over the Sacramento Kings on Friday night, the second question asked was how are the Spurs going to keep scoring like this without Parker? The first question was obviously about how severe Parker’s ankle injury was.

In beating the Detroit Pistons 114-75 on Sunday evening, Tim Duncan and the Spurs helped piece some of that puzzle together. Duncan put up a line of 16 points, 11 boards, six assists and five blocked shots in the win over Detroit. It was the first game in about a month or so that reminded everyone of how well Duncan was playing early in the season. Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich said as much after the game.

“This is the first night he has looked like Tim Duncan to me in the last two-to-three weeks,” Coach Pop said. “He had more spring and more balance out on the court.”

Entering February, Duncan was averaging about 18 points and 10 rebounds per game. He had submitted several vintage Tim Duncan performances, including a 22 points, 21 rebound game against the Utah Jazz, and something you could consider flirting with a quadruple-double against the Denver Nuggets.

Since the start of February, though Duncan was only putting up 12.5 points and 7.6 rebounds a game as he battled a couple of knee injuries, including the scary one he suffered against the Washington Wizards before the All-Star break.

“Health-wise I felt great tonight. Moving around felt great,” Duncan said after the game.

With Parker out and the Pistons in town, a little more of the emphasis was put on Duncan. While the Spurs submitted a beautiful all-around performance and relied heavily on the ball movement that has been a trademark of theirs this season (35 assists on 45 made field goals), Duncan was huge. He was back to being the defensive anchor for the Spurs, with his six blocked shots and 11 rebounds helping to get the San Antonio offense out on the run.

“We’re going to move the ball and use a lot of pick-and-rolls [with Parker out],” Duncan said. “We’re going to use a lot of body movement.”

Having a rock-solid Tim Duncan in the lineup had to have helped Cory Joseph, who was making his second career start in place of Parker. Instead of slotting Nando Do Colo or Patty Mills in for the injured Parker, the Spurs are apparently taking some time to see what they have with Joseph, who finished with eight points (on 3-of-5 from the field) and four assists, with just one turnover.

It’s hard to make a judgement after two games on Joseph’s long term potential, but I will say this: he didn’t look out of place on an NBA floor. I’ve long thought that because of his long arms, Joseph could be a good defensive point guard in the NBA, and it seems his jump shot and offensive game are both catching up. He’ll need more floor time to get his timing in-sync with his teammates, but the early returns looks solid.

“I thought he did a fine job. He played a good floor game,” Coach Pop said. “He’s gotten his opportunity and he seems to be taking advantage of it.”

As Manu Ginobili (17 points, three assists) rounds into form and Kawhi Leonard (14 points, six rebounds) continues to expand his game, the Spurs will adjust to temporary life without Parker. With Tim Duncan as a strengthening foundation the Spurs will weather the storm as best they can.

Statistics courtesy of NBA.com/Stats

  • Graham

    I kinda like starting CoJo for a lot of these games. Of all our backup PGs, he seems the most balanced from the brief looks we got. If we end up sliding back to the 2 seed, would foisting a potential first round matchup with the Lakers on the Thunder be a bad thing?

  • Rubadub

    Cojo is a pg . Patty is a scorer energy I’d always give Patty 15-20 min off bench or when the teams flat he’s. the energy

  • ThatBigGuy

    I like DeColo, but he can’t guard fast players, which is tough, because every playoff team outside of the Lakers can attack a slow footed wing player. Joseph is much quicker with nearly the same size, so it makes sense to give him some run to see how he handles the team. If he can produce 80% of DeColo’s offensive output but play 30% better on ball D, he’s more valuable to Pop. It will be interesting to see how much responsibility he gets after his great summer and D league play.

  • http://www.facebook.com/zach.carlson.121 Zach Carlson

    It’s interesting to think about. If we do drop to the 2 seed and the lakers some how get in then the thunder will have to go through the lakers then probably the winner of denver/memphis which might actually be a tougher road then us having to face utah or houston and then the clips or golden state.

  • DorieStreet

    The situation is not that cut and dry that the Lakers will end up in the 8th spot. They are only 3 games behind the 6th place Warriors, who are in free-fall mode (dropped 4 straight, are 3-7 in their last 10, and have won only 4 games since February 1st).
    Along with the Jazz and Rockets, all 4 teams have 19 or 20 losses on the road.(losing records). Utah and LA have 12 away games left, Houston 9, but Golden State only have 6 left. Spots 6, 7 & 8 to me will be very fluid over the last 21/22 games.

  • kdog

    your analysis is correct about both players, but it doesn’t matter that the playoff pgs are mostly quick…tp willbeback for that. The mix of backups we have only needs to get us in position for seeding, not match up w cp3 or Westbrook in a 7 game series.

  • Titletown99030507d

    I would like to take the top seed regardless. It will come handy against the Heat.

  • Titletown99030507d

    Why is Splitter not playing the 4th quarter? Pop has taken him out several games already for the blow outs. That’s just plain stupid! He isnt getting injured and he can damn sure use the burn. Like Pop is going to play the other bigs in the playoffs? Not going to happen. And if he does than he’s back to his old crap again. Give the burn where it’s well deserved. He’s not 36 years old and has a fragil body.
    In my opinion he’s just trying to devalue Tiago’s free agency. Padded stats = more money. Way to go Pop just lower his pay day why don’t you. Besides if you play the guy like he’s 27 not 36 maybe he’ll get even better. What a concept Pop. huh?

  • Graham

    As much as I agree, I’m leery of pushing too hard for it and running out of gas come playoff time. I’d much rather us be healthy and the 3 seed than worn down and the 1.

  • Graham

    Why does he need the burn? He’s peaking at just the right time, and saving the mileage on him for lengthy playoff minutes is only a good thing. Pop’s protecting him from any chance injury, lord knows he’s been somewhat injury prone over the years. Splitter’s not going to add new dimensions to his game, what you see is what you get, in varying degrees of polish.

  • http://twitter.com/SICKWITITairg SICK-WIT-IT

    I wouldnt call taking a staring center out of a blowout game, “stupid.”

    I would also never use that word in association with Coach Popp

  • Tyler

    You know the other NBA teams have scouts, right? And that they’ve seen him play before? Do you really think they need to see him play a few minutes in a blowout win to gauge his value or skill set?

  • junierizzle

    Starters get to sit in the fourth quarter of blow out games. It’s one of the perks.

  • junierizzle

    Exactly. I wouldn’t be surprised if Lakers end up with the 6th seed. It’s way too early to tell. I know everyone will talk up about how no one would want to play the Lakers but they shouldn’t scare anyone. If you think about it the only reason they’ll get in is because the other teams are imploding.

  • http://profiles.google.com/lordxar Ray Briggs II

    He is a valuable starter. Its the 4th quarter of a insignificant game where Spurs are up 20. Why would he play? This conspiracy theory you have on Pop trying to hurt his free agency value is absurd. I’d rather give Blair and Baynes some game time in the system if for some reason they need minutes in the playoffs.

  • Titletown99030507d

    Stupid plain stupid.

  • Titletown99030507d

    Not when youve sat the last two years. Its his free agency for cying out loud. Hell Blairs gone why bother.

  • Titletown99030507d

    Uh yeah. Tell me if you could pad your resume would you?

  • Titletown99030507d

    Oh please. I could care less about that coach.

  • Titletown99030507d

    Hes played every game and hes not breaking down anytime soon. Hes 27 not 40.

  • Titletown99030507d

    The only one you need to worry about running out of gas is Timmy like last season. Sit Timmy and play Tiago 30 minutes. This team has shown it can win with or without Timmy or manu or parker.

  • Tyler

    “Uh yeah.” So you think they need to see him play in a blowout? Like others teams haven’t been watching him for the past half decade?

    “Tell me if you could pad your resume would you?” Tiago isn’t submitting a resume for his next contract.

    Your notions are absurd.

  • http://twitter.com/SICKWITITairg SICK-WIT-IT

    The rest he gets sure helped him today against OKC! **THEORY DEBUNKED**