San Antonio Spurs 102, New Jersey Nets 85 – There’s No I in Spurs
PRUDENTIAL CENTER â€” 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 ofÂ MVP lists. (Ginobili greatly challenges our perceptions of player value. Everyone realizes he’s one of the best players in the league, but officialÂ recognitionÂ 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.