San Antonio Spurs 111, Toronto Raptors 106: Tony Parker speeds up when everyone else slows down
I wonder if when the Spurs looked at the schedule and saw a 1 PM (eastern) start on the front end of a back-to-back, they thought, “Hey, that’s not so bad.” It’s an early game, they can take care of business and get a little more rest than they normally would when playing two games in as many days. Well, that’s not how things turned out. Instead, Tim Duncan, Tony Parker and Danny Green all played over 40 minutes as the Toronto Raptors took the Spurs through two overtime periods in a 111-106 win for San Antonio.
The game was so long and the minute total so heavy that it turned a day and a half of rest into your run of the mill back-to-back. Parker led the way for the Spurs with 32 points (on 27 shots), six rebounds and five assists. Even Manu Ginobili and Boris Diaw came off the bench to log at least 34 minutes apiece.
As we’ve seen in recent performances, Parker is starting to become the dynamic scorer we remember from last season. Back are the successful jumpers from the free throw line extended and the nice touch around the rim. Parker even went so far as to show off the lightning quick spin move in transition to free himself for a layup.
Even better, Parker was there when the Spurs needed him the most. TP notched 11 points in the overtime periods and seemed to — if not change gears completely — keep the same pace as everyone else on the floor slowed down.
This is important for the Spurs. Tim Duncan is playing great this season (26 points, five rebounds, six assists, three blocks vs. Toronto), better than we’ve seen the Big Fundamental play in years, but he’s going to slow down eventually. It’s a long season and he’s going to regress some. The Spurs will need Parker to be as close to the MVP-candidate level he was last season. The sooner that happens, the better.
- The Spurs are still having trouble with rebounding. Typically one of the best teams in the league limiting opponents’ second chances, the Spurs gave up 17 offensive rebounds against Toronto for 27 second-chance points. Luckily, the Spurs did tighten up in that regard in the fourth quarter and overtimes, which went a long way in securing the victory.
- One of the biggest plays of the game had to be Danny Green’s 3-pointer to start the second overtime. The Raptors continually battled back from deficits to extend the game. When Green sunk that open corner 3, it had to have taken some of the wind out of Toronto’s sails. The last thing they wanted to do was come from behind for another five minutes.
- I really liked what I saw from Raptors rookie big man Jonas Valanciunas. I’m biased, as he’s exactly the type of big man that I’m a fan of, but he played pretty well against Tim Duncan defensively (other than maybe the first five minutes of the game) and totaled 22 points (on only 13 shots), seven boards and three blocks. He’s quickly becoming one of my favorite non-Spurs.
- The Spurs’ lineup of Duncan-Diaw-Manu-Green-Parker is becoming a really strong one for Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich to turn to. In 12 minutes against Toronto it had a 100.9 offensive rating (100.9 points per 100 possessions), which is decent, and a 76.3 defensive rating (76.3 points allowed per 100 possessions), which is amazing. In limited minutes this season, that lineup is playing with a 115.1 offensive rating and a 82.1 defensive rating, good for a difference of 33 points per 100 possessions.
- I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the Manu Ginobili show that broke out for a few minutes in the third quarter. Toronto actually started off the third quarter with a 7-0 run and went up by as much as nine points in the period, but for a few possessions in the third, Manu took over. On one play Manu got the ball in transition, dribbled at a Raptor defender along the sideline, bounced the ball between the defender’s legs, ran out of bounds and around the player to retrieve the ball, and drove to the hoop to flip the ball up and in and get fouled. On another possession, Ginobili cut to the basket and went up for the shot, seemed to lose control of the ball and flipped it up from his hip. As expected, Ginobili scored and drew the foul. You know what? Screw it, you’ve got to see the first play for yourself.
Advanced lineup data courtesy of NBA.com/Stats