The Margin: San Antonio Spurs 97, Phoenix Suns 87

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We’re going with The Margin format for the San Antonio Spurs’ 97-87 win over the Phoenix Suns again tonight. Why? Because I sat here for a solid 20 minutes trying to think of something to write without typing a single word. This format will get us going.

  • Tony Parker sat with what the team called a “right triceps contusion” with their fingers crossed. With Parker out, more of the offensive burden fell on Kawhi Leonard, who answered with 16 points, though on just 5-of-13 shooting. Leonard continues to make the most of the opportunities he’s given. His patience and ability to find the right moments to exert himself is impressive.
  • Leonard also had three steals and rekindled some of that defensive playmaking he’s becoming known for.
  • Nando De Colo started in place of Tony Parker and played decent, but Patty Mills was the more impressive point guard for the Spurs. Mills tied Leonard for the team-high in scoring with 16 points and his energy was a big reason the Spurs got going in the second quarter.
  • Speaking of the second quarter, that was really the difference in the game. The Spurs lost the first quarter to the Suns 21-19, but a 20-3 run to start the second period was really the stretch that put breathing room between the two teams. The rest of the game was just maintenance of that lead.
  • Tiago Splitter scored 14 points and had his first memorable game in a while. It felt like over the last couple of weeks Splitter had hit some sort of a slump, although maybe that’s just my fuzzy memory. Either way, Splitter’s back-to-the-basket game was good against the Suns as he hit on an array of hooks and step through moves. He and Boris Diaw were the only two players to shoot about 50 percent from the field for San Antonio.
  • In our game preview, Andrew Lynch predicted that Goran Dragic would have a big game for the Suns. That didn’t happen, however, as San Antonio harassed Dragic into a 3-of-14 shooting performance.
  • Manu Ginobili continues to ease his way back into a rhythm. I don’t think he’s ever going to be the Manu of two seasons ago again, save for a few stretches here and there, but like Leonard’s defense, when Ginobili’s rolling he brings an unpredictability that is practically impossible to plan for. Manu finished with 12 points (on just one made field goal) and six assists in 24 minutes of action against Phoenix. He attempted 15 free throws on the night, hitting 10.
  • Aggressive Boris Diaw was in the house on Sunday night. When Tony Parker is out, Diaw seems to realize it’s important that he’s a little more assertive with his shot-taking. Diaw made all five of his field goal attempts as he finished with 12 points for the Spurs.
  • First mention of Tim Duncan comes on the second-to-last bullet point. You’d think Duncan would be the offensive beneficiary of Parker’s absence, but Marcin Gortat and the Suns big men did a decent job defending Duncan in the low post, forcing him into a 5-of-12 shooting performance. Duncan didn’t go to the foul line a single time, which is one of those strange but true things. Gortat had the opposite performance for Phoenix, scoring 21 points on 10-of-15 from the floor. The Suns certainly didn’t work the ball to Gortat enough in this game.
  • The Spurs play the Suns again on Wednesday. The only reason to be excited about running it back is that this will be the first game at the AT&T Center since February 2.
  • Graham

    Tough to decide who fits better as a backup Point Guard for us long term, Mills or De Colo. De Colo’s got that Passing gene, but Mills is looking like Neal with a lot better ball handling and lot of defensive energy. Doesn’t help that both guys can be very hit or miss.

  • james gutierrez

    Good to see Patty Mills come through in the absence of Tp9! DeColo could of done it, but I think Patty had a better feeling for tonights ge vs the suns! The Suns didn’t get the MEMO, U HAVE TO DEFEND ALL THE SPURS, NOT JUST TIMMY-D! KAWHI IS JUST GETTING MORE & MORE IMPRESSIVE EVERY GAME! I THINL HE’LL B AN ALLSTAR NEXT YEAR! #GOSPURSGO

  • RUBADUB

    Parker … Mills …. Decolo – PG is stitched up u must keep both to stretch Parker’s longevity as he gets older increase Mills Decolos mins. Win win young guys get more time we get more years of Parker. Mills was leading scorer at the Olympics per game more than anyone on Dreamteam the kid can hoop just needs 25 min a game

  • http://48minutesofhell.com Andrew A. McNeill

    Don’t forget about Cory Joseph.

  • GoSpursGo

    De Colo is the better PG, but Mills is a more reliable player. He is used to having the ball in his hands with pressure, and is not afraid to gun. If Parker is not available to close out games or halves, I would prefer Mills to De Colo. It fill up the middle of the game and keep players involved, I would prefer De Colo.

    During the next 10 games or so, scale back Parkers minutes and let Mills, De Colo, and Manu get some first team burn. the Spurs will need those guys for the playoffs.

  • GoSpursGo

    De Colo is the better backup PG. Mills, though, is a good second team player. A lineup with him, Neal, and Manu would be tough to defend (and also, would have trouble defending)

  • DorieStreet

    I agree 1000%. The team is a beast when Parker is at his best. He can’t be worn out during the playoffs because he was maxed out during the season’s last 24 games. Mills and de Colo need to have significant time running the show so there will be no drastic dropoff when Tony needs rest.

  • Andrew G

    Having been born in, and still liviing in Austin, I’m usually the first one to defend my Longhorns… but PJ Tucker looked like garbage last night. I think he was one of the main reasons we won. Back to back travels, fouling our three point shooters, he gave us everything we needed and more. It could possibly be a testament to our gameplay, but I think he just stunk.

  • Patrick

    What I think people are forgetting in the whole Mills or De Colo discussion is there’s no guarantee that Manu will be back next year and if he does retire we’re really gonna need De Colo’s playmaking off the bench. Not to mention he’s got the size to play the 2.

  • Graham

    Oh i definitely agree that’s the long term idea in my head. I was just thinking immediate need, since I think Manu’s got a year or two left.

  • http://www.facebook.com/apaladino77 Andrew Paladino

    I agree with you both, yet I don’t care about the future THIS YEAR. If Patty Mills is burying shots, he should get more time. Coach Popp & Coach Budenholzer will make the right call there.

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