In case you missed it, in the waning seconds of the fourth quarter in last night's San Antonio Spurs-Denver Nuggets game, Spurs' rookie Tiago Splitter had a dunk which ended in him falling to the court hard.
First, thank goodness he didn't end up hurting himself with that fall. It was very reminiscent of the dunk which led to Milwaukee Bucks' Andrew Bogut's elbow injury.
Second, I was talking with John Karalis of Reds Army and we both agreed this was totally unnecessary by Splitter. If you look at the video, the Spurs were up by 11 points (108-97) with about 18 seconds left in the game when Splitter got the ball. The smart thing Splitter should have done was simply dribble the ball and let the game clock expire. The game was already a win for the Spurs yet he risked injury and it could have been seen by the Nuggets as Splitter rubbing it in. Got to be smarter on the court Splitter!
I can definitely see the rational side to it all. He should have just dribbled it out or held it for the inevitable foul since Denver "woke up" with a couple minutes left and was playing like a team on crack. It was risky, especially in light of how Denver was rolling at that time. But the emotional side agrees-Tiago needed that for personal reasons and the Spurs needed that kind of statement. Haven't seen much in the way of "pushing back" since Horry or Willis or Ellie were here. As for the Sloan dunk-that came back to bite aTm the next year. Bears rolled over everyone and remembered that dunk as a classless thing-filed it away and took it out on Ags next season. Karma man. Now they are rebuilding with all these young guys and what they did to others last year, teams are doing to them-but having said all that...Tiago's dunk was nowhere near a statement dunk like Sloan's was. That BU/aTm game came in response to BU winning that overtime game that went what, 6 overtimes? I see Tiago's dunk more as something he personally needed to do, and something he wanted to show Pop and also a way to make sure that shot went down. Watching Tiago this year-the guy's footwork and fundamentals are almost perfect. Two things need immediate attention and he can be very productive: One he has to finish strong at the rim. That 'lay in' he does worked in the Spanish league but the guys in the NBA close fast and are a lot more athletic. Too many of his shots get blocked simply because he scoops or lays it in when he gets the ball and thinks he has his man sealed. If he'll learn to just attack the rim and forget the lay-in, his point total goes up 2-4 a game. Second his hands: part of that is related to getting used to passes from Manu and Parker, part of it is just getting used to the speed of the game. If Pop will give him 18 a night while Matt is out that will go a long way toward getting the guy ready for postseason. We're going to need his length and that pick and roll. On an unrelated note-anyone remember the greatest NBA playoff upset in recent history when the Warriors rolled the 1st seed Mavs? I loved that series. Anyone having any thoughts about the same Baron Davis and a surging Clipper team (and Cyborg Griffin and "I got ridiculous hops" Jordan) and crew being an 8 seed that could cause the Spurs major matchup problems with their athleticism, length and explosiveness? That's one team I DON'T want to see in the 1st round. You know the Nuggets will tank or drop out of sight when Carmelo, Billups are gone and if you look at the standings, Clips (if they keep progressing) can easily overtake someone for that 7 or 8 position.
That dunk was out of frustration. Nuggets players (particulary JR Smith) were getting a bit chippy last two minutes of game. If you saw the game, Hill was also getting ticked off. Some serious yapping going on by Nugget players. Spurs had just come off, what-three consecutive turnovers? Tiago probably did that just as much to take out frustration on Nugget trash talk as he did sitting for so long. No way Denver saw that as rubbing it in-they were the ones who got jacked up and physical last few minutes. Just glad the guy wasn't hurt.