The Margin: San Antonio Spurs 97, Phoenix Suns 87
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.