I’ll get to some game analysis in just a second, but I cannot keep quiet any longer. So indulge me for a minute before I lose my mind. I love the NBA. I don’t watch college sports. I follow the NBA, NFL, and keep a passing eye on European football (yes, soccer; EPL, mostly). But my love is the NBA. I’ve been watching it for almost 30 years and I can safely say this: the state of officiating in the NBA is awful.
I know there has been turnover in the ranks and some really good refs are now out (Bob Delaney and Steve Javie, just to name a couple). But this game tonight was just terrible. There were more missed calls and more non-calls that got called than I have ever seen, particularly in the first half. Out-of-position refs were making calls that they had no business making. On one play, a Mozgov drive, all three officials made a different call: travel, kicked ball, and foul. The foul won, but replay showed that the travel call was the right one. It wasn’t just tonight – there have been a number of games this season where the officiating was almost this bad.
I don’t know how you fix this, David Stern, and I don’t know how much longer you are going to be the commish. But you have to address this. It’s just terrible. These guys should not be detracting from the great athleticism and quality play happening on the floor, but that’s what’s happening. Even your hardcore fans, like me, won’t continue to support a product that is great on the floor, but that is being hampered by the guys with the whistles.
On the game, I’ll just say this: the defense was terrible and they still had a chance to win. They fought hard at the end of this game. When the shot left Neal’s hand, I thought it was in. That’s a nice play for a good look at a trey at the end of the game. The team just dug too deep of a hole with a horrible 1st quarter.
Song of the Game:
It’s been a bit of a dark day around our house, so this song fit the mood. It’s by Black Moth Super Rainbow and it’s a great song from their Eating Us album from 2009 called “Born on a Day The Sun Didn’t Rise“. This is a techno-industrial-pop band that does some really experimental, wacky, but still melodic stuff. Recommended if you like that sort of thing.
Play of the Game:
With 3:30 left in the game, Andre Miller had just missed a three after a terrible sequence for the Spurs that I can’t describe for fear of throwing up on my keyboard. After the miss, Manu rebounded and pushed hard to the left side of the court. Running hard ahead of him, to his spot on the floor (the “turn” of the 3-point line), was Gary Neal. Manu made a quick ball fake and pushed a no-look pass to Gary, who drained the three to cut the lead to 3. It’s good to have Manu back.
Wow, is Kenneth Faried athletic? Yes. Yes, he is. So much so that he goaltended three straight Tony Parker floaters in the 2nd quarter. Of course, only two of them were called.
Tony had such a terrible first quarter that I never thought he would end the game with 25 points. He was fantastic, especially in the 2nd and 3rd quarters.
T.J. Ford was a fantastic pickup for this team. Once he learned the nuances of the Spurs’ offense, he has been finding open guys, getting into the lane, and scoring when he needed to.
I can’t decide: do the Spurs just have great passers on the pick-and-roll? Or does Splitter make all of our pick-and-roll passers better?
The defense. See below.
Chris Mullin. I was watching this on ESPN for a while, but Mullin is a terrible analyst and I was forced back to Land/Elliott on FSSW. Mullin was one of my favorite players of that era, but his future is not in television.
This is not a game Danny Green’s agent will be discussing with R.C. during contract talks at the end of the season. He was, in a word, erratic.
I could put Kawhi in both the Trending Up and Trending Down parts of this recap. He had some brilliant defensive plays and some solid shots, but he also played at least 2 poor pick-and-roll series and was hesitant on a few wide-open jumpers. Way, way more good than bad, but there are times on the floor when he reminds you he’s a rookie.
Stat of the Game:
The plus-minus stats for this game were crazy. The only guys on the good side were Splitter at +14, Manu at +6, and Bonner at +1. Everybody else was under, led by Timmy’s -17. No idea what to make of that.
Also, Denver had 15 fast break points in the first half. For a team missing some top players and whose entire game is built on transition, you have to know that’s coming and do a better job of transition defense. Between that and 10 offensive rebounds for the Nuggies, that’s your ballgame.
I thought this was one of the Spurs’ worst defensive games since early in the season. The rotations to shooters from drives and double teams were simply terrible and the pick-and-roll defense either did not “show” on the ball handler long enough or the weakside help was late, late, late. Until midway through the 3rd, it just looked like another poor Spurs’ energy night on defense. But I attribute this to all of the healthy players finally being back. Communication and chemistry – with everyone now available – is going to take some time to rebuild.