San Antonio Spurs 118, Washington Wizards 92: A blowout was just what the Spurs needed
After going 58 minutes with the Toronto Raptors on Sunday afternoon, the last thing the Spurs needed was another game on the road the following day. Facing a team desperate for its first win of the season didn’t help matters much, either, no matter how banged up the Washington Wizards were.
In the end, none of those factors mattered much as Tiago Splitter threatened the triple-double stratosphere and led the Spurs with 15 points (on just five official field goals!), 12 rebounds, seven assists, two steals and two blocks in a 118-92 win for San Antonio. And this came with Tim Duncan, Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili all in the lineup. Nobody had the night off. Hopefully Splitter was active for your fantasy basketball team if you somehow own him in your league.
This game was exactly what the Spurs needed on this night. After going two overtimes with the Raptors on Sunday afternoon and having to use Duncan and Parker for 40+ minutes each, the Spurs were able to build a 12-point lead going into halftime. From there, the lead ballooned to 18 points quickly in the third quarter. The Wizards cut San Antonio’s advantage down to 11 at one-point, but that was as close as it got. The Spurs ran away with the game from there and managed to rest Duncan, Parker and Danny Green for the entire fourth quarter. Manu played just two and a half minutes to start the fourth.
In the middle of a stretch of four games in five days (all on the road), rest is at a premium for San Antonio. I expected at least one of the Spurs’ big three to sit out this game completely. Instead, they all played, though none for more than 23 minutes, and the Spurs were fortunate to be winners. The last thing Gregg Popovich wanted was to play all his guys after yesterday’s grueling game and lose.
For the night, the story was Splitter. The Brazilian did the things he does well and did them, um, well. Splitter rolled to the basket hard on pick-and-rolls, drew fouls and battled down low. He also hit seven of eight free throws, making you wonder if that’s something he’s going to make a habit of doing well also.
It’s also the second game out of the last four that Splitter has been a top performer. Tiago logged 23 points (on 9-11 shooting) and three rebounds against the Celtics on Thanksgiving Eve. Splitter is an effective weapon when used correctly. Like most role players, he can excel in certain situations. Tonight was the epitome of that.
Some other notes from the Spurs’ blowout win:
- DeJuan Blair continues to make the plays you expect from him: battling on the boards, getting deflections, diving for loose balls, etc. The thing is, I feel like his finishing around the rim has diminished severely this year. I could be wrong, but he’s missed far too many layups this season.
- It may have been a blowout win, but corralling the defensive rebounds was still a probably. Even without Nene, the Wizards grabbed 15 offensive rebounds and scored 24 second chance points. We’ll just slide that up to the top of the to-do list.
- Danny Green was 0-2 from 3-point range. His streak of games with at least one 3-pointer ends at 31.
- I’m getting the impression that teams are starting to front Duncan more, having seen how much damage he can still do from the low block. With that, the high-low pass, where the other big man flashes to the ball-side high post and immediately dumps it down to Duncan (who has sealed the man fronting him in the low post) has opened up. And as the Spurs do more of that, big men defending the high post will start to crowd the passer more, trying to discourage them from passing it down low to Duncan. We could see some more of the Spurs bigs attacking the basket from the high post on plays like that, as the more opposing bigs crowd Splitter, Blair and Boris Diaw, the better chance those players will have to put the ball on the floor and get by their man.
- Speaking of Duncan in the low post, isn’t he a joy to watch? He backs down his man in a different way than most big men. He doesn’t try to bowl the defender over and get to the bucket. He probes for weaknesses. A bump here, a a turn there. He resembles Chris Paul trying to penetrate the lane more than Shaq powering through his opponent. Usually, Duncan finds an opening and gets a decent shot off.
- Manu Ginobili is coming for Lou Williams’ throne as king of the 2-for-1.
- Nando De Colo was on my preseason list for Garbage Time All-Stars. As a result of having fallen out of the rotation, Matt Bonner is suddenly a member of this exclusive group as well. Bonner is a dead-eye 3-point shooter and someone who positively impacts almost every lineup he’s a part of. The Spurs should never lose a garbage time stretch this season.