San Antonio Spurs 118, Washington Wizards 92: A blowout was just what the Spurs needed

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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.
  • Andrew G

    I noticed we resigned James Anderson and almost clawed my eyes out. Anyone know how long and/or how much we’ve signed him for?

  • SpencerW

    Looking back on last year Splitter was a solid free throw shooter until the end of the year (and the playoffs more specifically) when he just started missing them constantly. He was shooting about 73% prior to the playoffs last year (125 made on 172 attempts), so it’s really more of a return to form for him to knocking down his free throws lately. It felt that the moment just got a little into his head last year and being subject to intentional fouls threw him out of his routine.

  • SpencerW

    1 year ~$750k

    I’m not big on him myself, and he’s more of a 2 than a 3, but he helps shore up the numbers and has spent a little bit of time in the system so he is a functional stop-gap while we wait for Kawhi and Stephen Jackson to get back on the floor. He was also a pretty damn good player and was competing for minutes his rookie year (and at the very beginning of last year) until he got banged up and then fell out of favor when Danny Green started getting more time.

  • junierizzle

    I know it was the Wizards but it was still fun to watch. Spurs had the crowd in awe with their passing.

    I’m starting to like De Colo. Its clear he has handle and can pass. He just needs to get over his rookie jitters and he could really end up helping out. I mean he did break some ankles tonight. He has until SJack comes back to prove himself. Also CoJo looked more controlled than last year.

  • Graham

    didn’t he have a wrist injury that threw his mechanics off too? That could be even worse than a mental slump IMO

  • NYC

    Matt Bonner makes love to no-pressure. Put him in during garbage time and you can count on five 3s easy.

  • Len

    So long as JA’s girlfriend is outta the picture, I’m fine with him re-signing. Maybe he has learned some humility and will work his tail off to get his pre injury mojo back.

  • Titletown99030507d

    Splitter is healthy, confident, having fun, and getting decent minutes add the fact that he’s getting aquainted with Timmy and Boris. All needs to happen now is getting time with DeJuan to round out a complete front court rotation. If these 4 keep playing well together we wont need that extra big we’ve been looking to pull out of the magic hat. We can still use Bonner for those spot minutes when Neal, Manu, and Danny arent hitting their 3’s or we just need an offensive boost. I like what Pop is doing and he should have done this since day one. I guess he realized he couldnt ignore the elephant in the room. Finally. GSG!

  • Titletown99030507d

    Give the guy a break. I’m sure he’s a team player by the way he was looking for his teammates. Nice pass to Cojo and back to Boris on a layup on one play. Even if he sits I like his athleticism and knowledge of the spurs system. He could be called upon when you least expect it. Pop has a way to do this for those that have been cut and brought back. You never now. No pressure and expectations could play well in those kind of situations.

  • Brandon in LA

    The best thing that’s happened so far this season is Matt Bonner becoming a role player. If he plays over 20 minutes in another playoff game, then something has gone horribly wrong.

  • Caesar

    agree!

  • ThatBigGuy

    Mr. Anderson is a cheap, young, talented player who hasn’t reached his potential yet and knows the system. If there was anyone worth signing for the 15th roster spot, it’s Mr. Anderson.

  • ThatBigGuy

    I keep expecting Tim to regress to a point more fit for a 36 year old with over 1000 games on his odometer, but he continues to look 28. He’s bringing the ball up the court as a point-center once or twice a game, in a full out fast break sprint.

  • Daniel T

    If that’s the “best thing”, how are the Spurs chances any better? In their only four playoff losses, Bonner played over 20 minutes in only one and he only passed that mark after the Spurs were being blown away. The most he played in the final three losses was 2:11. The only other playoff game last season in which he played over 20 minutes was game 4 with Utah when the team was +20 while he was on the floor in their closest win. Wasn’t he basically no more than a “role player” his entire Spurs career? “Matt Bonner becoming a role player” that does not play over 20 minutes in a playoff game isn’t really any change.

  • Daniel T

    Pop immediately sending Tim to the scorer’s table where he had to wait until a break in the action in which Tiago was not shooting FTs must have been way more distracting than anything fans might wave behind the backboard.

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