Well, this game did nothing to get me out of my funk regarding the team. In fact, it just validated and cemented my feelings. Pop’s singling out Kawhi as the only good thing that happened in the game at either end seemed appropriate. I certainly didn’t see much myself.
Play of the Game #1: Kawhi’s Steal and Layup
Steve Nash learned that Kawhi Leonard is really, really long.
On a fast break, Nash tried to throw a bounce pass to Kobe who was on the left wing. Kawhi used his crazy length to knock the ball down when it was pretty much at the nadir. There might be 2 or 3 other guys in the league who could make that steal. Might. Kawhi knocked it down, picked it up — because nobody else gets a ball off the ground when Kawhi is around, and took it in for a layup against Jamison.
These are huge plays for the Spurs. Kawhi and Manu are probably the only two guys who can take a sure two points for the other team and turn them into two points for us.
Play of the Game #2: Jack’s Technical
Jack’s five point play for the Lakers was very ill-timed and made it a game off of a sudden late in the fourth quarter. I know asking Jack to learn at this late stage in his career is a bit much, but…come on. The refs were already T happy. You aren’t going to get the calls you did 5 years ago. Not when you are posting up Kobe and we are up 10. Just shut up and run back down court.
Play of the Game #3: Kobe’s LONG 3
That was a LONG shot. The Lakers really got some breaks to get back into this one so I’m glad we won. I bring up this shot — which was not a good shot — and the one Kobe made when driving through the paint where it got deflected out of his hands and he still managed to get it up and in, because Kobe shot 10-24. A respectable 42%. If these two terrible/tough shots don’t go in then Kobe shoots 8-24 which is a very non-respectable 33%. I really thought Kawhi played some great defense on Kobe. Even more so when you consider that the refs gave Kobe at least one call early where Kawhi got all ball on the shot.
Trending Up: Tiago, Kawhi, Gary and Jack
Tiago had a very solid 14 points and 14 rebounds. He was 5-7 from the field and 4-4 from the line. Jeff McDonald tweeted that Tiago is 19 for his last 20 at the line. He played a great 34+ minutes and is really starting contribute consistently.
Kawhi was good. Really good. He played good defense and made half his 3s. His one-dribble, step-back 3-ball was something else. He did manage to miss a pretty easy chipper in the first half on a one-man fast break. I sure would like to see the Spurs get him the ball in the post some. He has a pretty good knack for scoring around the rim and it would allow us to take advantage of the mismatches in transition that frequently occur. Several times last night Steve Nash ended up on Kawhi. That should be an automatic post up, but you can only do it if he is used to getting the ball in the block.
Gary wasn’t on fire like he sometimes is, but he did make some nice shots down the stretch when we needed baskets. He did a good job of stepping up into open space and hitting a long 2. In the playoffs, those will be buckets we’ll need.
Captain Jack is starting to find some rhythm now after his injury. His 3-pt shooting will always be streaky, but we also need him to be able to get buckets around the rim. He looks like he’s starting to feel more comfortable attacking. Keep an eye on this and his ability to create easy buckets for others.
Trending Down: Tony, Tim and Manu
Tim has had a couple stinkers in a row. Lots of turnovers, poor shooting percentage, no outside shot, no ability to score in the post. This is all you need to know. Robert Sacre, fresh out of the D-League, was able to keep Tim from scoring in the low post. Without a double team.
Tony shot well at 10 of 16, but he had a whole mess of turnovers (6). Again. He played a lot of isolation and he took a lot of long 2s early in the shot clock. He did make a lot of them though.
Manu got to the line for some points and did a great job on the glass with 8 rebounds. But, I thought he also ran too much isolation and took some really bad shots early in the shot clock. He’s forcing his step back and he’s shooting it off balance. When we are running plays for him off screens or kicking it out to him on a drive, he’s been money from 3-pt. But when it is him on his own, he’s been chunking bricks.
Stat of the Game: 19 Turnovers
Both teams had 5 turnovers in the first quarter. The Lakers had 5 more turnovers the rest of the game. We had 14 more to go. We were very, very sloppy with the ball. Especially in the last 3 minutes of the game. Our offense is going through a really raggedy stretch and a trip to Memphis isn’t likely to help it.
Earl Clark must have had a career game against us. He put up 22 points — on only 12 shots — and grabbed 13 rebounds. He also kicked in 3 assists. He was 9 of 12 from the field and one of those misses was his forced chunk to beat the buzzer at the end of the game. He just killed against us. That’s embarrassing.
I was impressed by Robert Sacre. He didn’t make his shots — 2 of 9 — but he wasn’t afraid to take them and he certainly wasn’t afraid to get in there and bang. Our 3 big rotation of Tiago, Tim, and Boris only scored 22 points.
Artest was an animal in this game. He made huge plays at both ends. 23 points, 8 rebounds, and 7 steals. It seemed like every time they were on the brink of being blown out that Artest made a play. A steal and a layup, an offensive rebound and a put back, or a big 3-ptr. He may have found his calling as a power forward.