San Antonio Spurs 102, New Jersey Nets 85 – There’s No I in Spurs

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PRUDENTIAL CENTER — The San Antonio Spurs beat the New Jersey Nets handily last night by the score of 102-85. The Spurs created off the dribble, got to the line, set up a ton of open looks, dominated the boards and made New Jersey work for every basket.

Manu Ginobili led all scorers with 22 points, including two treys and eight free throws. Parker contributed 13 points and seven dimes. DeJuan Blair did his thing on the boards and Tim Duncan shot well while playing tremendous defense on Brooke Lopez and helping out with three blocks.

Every Spurs player finished with a positive +/- before garbage time. Just like their season, no one player dominated the headlines, but the Spurs were able to win every quarter and come away victorious. The win brings their record to an astounding 46-9. The amazing part is that, despite the record, there still doesn’t seem to be much buzz about this team.

It seems that the Heat, Lakers, Celtics, Knicks, Bulls and Nuggets all get more headlines. Even Blake Griffin and the Clippers frequent highlight films. Perhaps even the Thunder and the Jazz garner more press than the Spurs.

The players also don’t seem to get the respect a normal team chasing 65-70 wins would normally garner (I guess there is no such thing as a normal team with this record). Manu Ginobili is frequently tabbed as the Spurs’ best player, but is only a token entry on many MVP lists. 19 players received more All-Star votes than Manu.

Quite frankly, I would also find it very difficult to argue he should be considered at the very top of  MVP lists. (Ginobili greatly challenges our perceptions of player value. Everyone realizes he’s one of the best players in the league, but official recognition never measures up to the popular consensus.)

Despite a resurgence, Tony Parker is even further down on this list of All-Star voting, ranking 7th among western conference guards and 31st overall. He would have been a clear choice for All-Star in the East, but in the West he was an afterthought. I can’t really disagree too strongly with this assessment either.

As for Tim Duncan, he barely cracked the All-Star team and was perhaps the most controversial selection. I suspect he deserved the slot, but I can’t really say that with a lot of conviction either. Despite all these dissenters, few will argue that the Spurs have NOT been the best team this year.

The Spurs have no real MVP candidates and yet they own a record that would usually dictate two or three contenders for the award. Not to worry, Spurs players, there have been other championship teams with “no superstars” that have turned out fine in public perception. The Knicks of the early 70′s were considered a team with no elite players. Ironically, this team ended up with more Hall of Famers than any other in NBA history (depending on how you slice it).

If you count Phil Jackson’s election as a coach, the 1973 team consisted of seven Hall of Famers (Willis Reed, Dave DeBusschere, Walt Frazier, Earl Monroe, Bill Bradley and Jerry Lucas were the others). No one knew who to credit for that team, so in the end all were rewarded.

The Spurs don’t have the “benefit” of playing on a stage like New York City, but I don’t think Coach Pop minds. When questioned as to why the Spurs didn’t get the most attention, Pop himself suggested more recent champions such as LA and Boston deserved more attention. (He didn’t provide a clear explanation for the Heat’s popularity, but I think we all know.)

The Spurs this year have been all about team. They have several players who can create their own shots and many more who can rack up points from open treys. Their bigs hustle for offensive rebounds, set screens and look to work in the post when needed. All players graciously accept their role and each puts forth effort defensively.

San Antonio might not get the respect they deserve, but if their winning ways continue through June, the world will be forced to take notice. And, you know, I think they’re pretty exciting to watch too.

  • Spurs Fan Since 91′

    all i want to say is thanks to those in the media who do respect the spurs (kenny smith and others) even tho the spurs done need the media attention its great to know that there is people respecting them

    GO SPURS GO

  • Tim in Surrey

    I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: Kapono would be of no help to us at all. He’s an inefficient scorer who does nothing but shoot. The fact that he might be a free agent soon doesn’t make him any less terrible. Rip, however, has a lot left in the tank, IMHO. He just desperately needs a change of scenery. But still… we’ve pretty much got his position covered. Murphy, too, needs a change of scenery and has a lot left in the tank. But the difference there is that he fills a need. Of course, he fills a need in Miami and Orlando, too, and would probably get a lot more playing time there…

    I hear what everybody’s saying about the Mavs. They’re an excellent team and they’ve played particularly well against other good teams. Plus their record is deceptive because they lost quite a few games while Dirk Nowitzki was injured. But Dirk was healthy in the playoffs last year, alongside mostly the same supporting cast as this year. Anyone remember how that turned out?

  • alk

    Asians, Europeans, Spanish, Africans, Australians , Arabs like the Spurs. That is not a small market.

  • Chris

    How good do you think Manu would’ve been if he started all of these years instead of being held back on the bench in back of Hedo, Barry, Finley, and every other SG we’ve had since he arrived? Of course now he’s gotten more injury prone but still it seems like his best season is during the seasons that he started. Interesting that the only time he’s been an All Star was when he started.

  • Flavor

    TD = BEST EVER
    February 16th, 2011 at 2:52 pm

    I’m not saying that size is not an advantage, simply that it doesn’t make someone a better player…

    As you said, its a *slight* advantage. I just don’t feel its an advantage to the point where we have to say LA is going to beat SA because of it.

  • DNITCH

    @Flavor

    Yeah especially when they lose to the Cavs of all teams! Haha this just made my night.

  • Flavor

    @DNITCH

    It made my night too, but lets not forget, its the regular season and the Lakers blah blah blah….

    lol!

  • Titletown99030507

    All this trade nonsense is a waste of time. It will never happen unless your name is Quinn because Tiago, Anderson, and Jefferson are going nowhere. Having said that what are you getting for Quinn and a draft pick? Uh nothing better than what we have now. Pop is not mortgaging the future away to satisfy a few blog readers. I don’t think Pop will leave Holt high and dry if he decides to want to win one more then retire. That bleacher report dude is throwing out crazy trades that I wouldn’t touch in 100 light years. Please Tiago, Anderson, Quinn and draft picks for who? Dwight Howard? Ridiculous.

  • TD = BEST EVER

    Yes the Lakers are losing a lot right now but IF they turn it on and they did against us earlier at their place. SO we still need to imagine them at their best and prepare for their best in case we face them later.

  • jwalt

    Tim in Surrey — the biggest change is Chandler. He’s been the difference, having an active big who can actually defend. Dallas is better than last year, and I think losing Butler doesn’t matter at all. He can do a lot of positive things but he can also be a dope.

    The Lakers losing to Cleveland tells me that Dallas is definitely the team to fear the most. Jerry West: “the Lakers can’t defend anymore because they can’t.” Cleveland and Charlotte, both horrible offensive teams, both just scored over a 100 against LA. Like I said previously, I think the Lakers are getting worse by the month. Last June is a long time ago.