Pop’s master plan to lose games (so he doesn’t have to coach the All-Star Game) has taken an interesting turn: competition. After monkeying with lineups on the road trip, including sitting Tim against Atlanta, and playing some weird matchups and rotations against Philly, Pop threw down the gauntlet against New Orleans. Against a healthy Hornets team where Anthony Davis was playing and Eric Gordon is Eric Gordon, Pop benched Tim, Kawhi, and himself. The competition aspect is this: Tony is not having any of it. He clearly wants Tim and Pop in Houston with him and is playing his brains out to make sure it happens.
Song of the Game: Uncle Tupelo, “Graveyard Shift”
The reason you are getting these recaps so late: my schedule has been a little crazy and I haven’t been able to watch a game live (except for the Philly game) in weeks. My wife joked last night, as I started the game at about 10:30 p.m., that I was working the “graveyard shift” recapping the game. And thus, your song of the game was born. That’s what’s commonly known as a “song-ertage” in my house.
If you don’t know Uncle Tupelo, shame on you. This was the one of the progenitors of the Alt-Country movement, which begat the Old 97s, Ryan Adams, the Jayhawks, and a number of other groups that play Americana, but not traditional radio country (which is terrible, in my opinion).
Play of the Game: I Couldn’t Pick One
1st offensive possession of the game. Bud rolls out the 13th different lineup this season, which means there are different wrinkles in the offense. TP dribbles down and gets a high screen from ….. Jack, of all people. Tony takes the pick, Jack rolls to the hoop and Tony passes to Diaw at the top. Diaw hits Jack, open off the roll at the rim. Two Hornets converge and Jack dumps to a wide open Tiago for a dunk. Only Danny Green open in the corner for a 3, did not touch the ball. Beautiful ball movement. It was followed up two possessions later, when New Orleans converts to a what may have been a 3-2 zone (or may have been the worst man defense ever). Tiago cuts to the middle between two Hornet “defenders” and gets a sweet bouncer from Tony for another dunk.
A key series in the game was when the Spurs scored 4 points in 10 seconds to close to a 2 point game before the half. Tiago disrupts a pass on a screen-roll and Tony finishes on Vasquez. The Hornets push hard and miss a layup, then Danny passes to Tony, who outlets to a snowbirding Manu. It was a critical sequence that cut the lead to a manageable amount at set the table for a solid 3rd quarter.
Trending Up: Tiago
I’m tired of mentioning him here. He is awesome and his ability to roll to the basket in space has made Tony a better passer.
Trending Down: Patty
Stat of the Game: 66
66 points in the paint. Count ‘em: 66. 33 of 45. Breaking news: that’s a lot. If my math serves me correctly, the Spurs only had 10 attempts from the inefficient non-paint, non-trey range (and only 2 makes on those 10 attempts). By contrast, the Hornets took almost as many shots in the paint (44) but only made 18 of them. 73% vs 40%. 73% usually wins.
Aron Baynes was at the game and made his first NBA stat sheet (in the inactive column). Looks like a big solid dude. If he turns out to be Tiago-esque, I’ll be thrilled.
Boris Diaw: 27 minutes played, 3 rebounds, 3 assists, lots of ball movement. 1 FG attempt (he stuffed himself on the rim). I love me some Boris, but he has to at least pretend like he’s going to shoot sometimes, just to keep his defender honest.
I’m savoring these wins with a limited lineup. It’s fun to watch Tony dominate the game.