I hate it when the Spurs amass a 20-point first half lead. Because you always know what’s coming – an inevitable letdown on both ends of the floor, followed by Pop yelling and screaming and the Spurs trying to recapture all of the momentum they lost.
But not last night. The effort was sustained throughout the game (helped by 22 Denver turnovers) and the only real question, with 8 minutes left in the 4th, was if the bench crew could maintain the lead. They did and did well. Every now and again, it’s nice to have a game with no drama.
Song of the Game: Rilo Kiley, “Silver Lining”
No Spurs tie-in, but I’ve been rehashing some old favorite albums and this one, 2007′s Under the Blacklight, came up. It’s an excellent, but hard to classify album. There are very pop-rock songs throughout all of their albums, but there’s a rootsy, indie-country feel to it as well. Rilo Kiley was pretty well known for an “indie” rock band, but never achieved mainstream success. They are one of those bands that lots of people have heard of, but couldn’t tell you any one song. If you like the sound of this song, probably the best known of their career, check out this album and 2003′s The Execution of All Things.
Play of the Game: DJB Passes, Danny Green Dunks
I don’t know if it is intentional, or just the result of the action that the Spurs are running on their first offensive set of the game, but Danny Green seems to be scoring the first bucket this season more often than not. In this game, the Spurs run Tim to the top and a quick pass to Tony on the right wing. DeJuan cuts hard to the right block, while Green has been moving to his customary spot in the left corner, awaiting the swing pass. Green’s man, Andre Iguodala, however has completely lost him. If you look at the video above, Iguodala is standing with both feet in the lane, with his back to Green. I realize Green is not Tim or Tony or Manu, but it was surprising to me that the Nugs lost track of a guy shooting 45% from 3. In any event, Green sees Iguodala’s lack of attention (to anything) and cuts backdoor to dunk a nice pass from DeJuan.
Trending Up: Defense
I realize the final numbers for the full game don’t look great, but through 3 quarters (when it was still a game, sort of), the Spurs held the Nuggets to 48% shooting (and only 25% from deep) and had outrebounded them 31-27. Denver’s athleticism makes them extremely difficult to defend and they can dominate the glass when they want to. I thought, before the 4th, that the Spurs played solid position defense against the Nuggets and kept them from crawling back into this.
Trending Down: Matt Bonner
I’m really curious about Pop’s big rotation. Blair, Splitter, and Diaw have all started games so far, based on the opposition’s strengths. Pop has gone small in short stretches with Jack at the 4, he has played big, with Splitter and Duncan together, and he has even used Spliiter and Blair together once or twice. But what he has not done is used Bonner much. Matt got 8 garbage time minutes last night and looked like Bonner has looked since the midway point last year: can hit when he’s wide open, but looks tentative with someone running at him.Decent defense and continues to spread the floor offensively, but doesn’t really make an impact unless he shoots. Every time he drives, I just feel the play is going to end badly.
It’s hard to tell what’s really going on, but I can’t help but wonder if Pop has finally run out of patience with Bonner. If so, is he tradable? (I don’t think so, unless it’s part of another deal). Or is he simply going to be our own version of Brian Scalabrine? It’s hard to remember a player who was such a prominent figure in minutes played fall out of a lineup so quickly. Then again, this could just be Pop experimenting and Bonner’s time is coming. But I think not.
Stat of the Game: Slump Over
The key to this game was really simple to see in the box score: 16 of 27 (59.3%) from deep. The Spurs had been in a mini-slump shooting for 3s, but that ended quickly. If Duncan hits one, you know you are in for a solid shooting night.
I think Pop is playing around a lot with lineups, especially with the injuries to Kawhi and Gary Neal. I think Pop wants to know what he really has in Patrick Mills and Nando DeColo at backup PG and I think he wants to figure out how his bigs perform with each other (and with which wings). I also think the 23 minutes for Manu is an indication that he wants Ginobili in playing shape. It was nice to see Manu being Manu again for large chunks of this game.
Kudos to Wayne for nailing his prognostication in the preview. Now dust off your crystal ball and predict revenge on the Clips tomorrow night.