A key to the San Antonio Spurs’ 105-83 win over the Atlanta Hawks Wednesday can be credited to head coach Gregg Popovich’s decision to bench three of his starters one minute into the third quarter for lack of aggression. From there, the remaining starters Tim Duncan and Kawhi Leonard, with subs Matt Bonner, Cory Joseph, and Danny Green went on a 15-6 point spurt to give the Spurs an 11-point lead with six minutes remaining in the third quarter.
Tony Parker was finally reinserted into the quarter and Richard Jefferson and DeJuan Blair would follow suit to finish the quarter. By the time the third quarter ended, the Spurs held a 15-point lead and would close out the Hawks’ by 22-points at the end of the game.
The Hawks only scored 17 points in the third quarter and Marvin Williams was the only bright sight for Atlanta in the quarter, as he scored all of his eight points in the third.
Here’s an interesting Project Spurs' exclusive conversation I got with Williams after the game.
Williams, however, isn’t the person who makes the interview distinct. Instead, Jannero Pargo joined in the interview to give his take on Popovich’s third quarter decision.
Paul (interviewing Marvin Williams): How did the game get away from you guys? Was it that second half when coach Pop took out three of the starters and put the young guys in?
Williams: Yeah, those young guys really gave them a boost. They came in and made some plays, we had some blown coverage’s on the defensive end.
Jannero Pargo (inserts his own response while Williams is still speaking): That was a good coaching move.
Williams (continued): They took advantage of it. They did what they had to do man.
Pargo: That was a good coaching move, not the move right there.
Paul: That one-minute where he just pulled them (the Spurs’ starters)?
Pargo: No, (that) ain’t what he had in mind. What he had in mind was, at the end of the quarter, when we put our subs in, he had starters in.
Pargo: Uh, you didn’t see it that way huh?
Paul: Yeah, I didn’t see it that way.
Pargo: We had the second unit, he had the starters in. That was your game.
So there you have it. According to Pargo’s theory, the biggest difference in the game was because coach Popovich pulled his starters at the beginning of the third quarter so they could take advantage of the Hawks’ subs to close the quarter.
Pargo provides us with an interesting theory.
If the spurs can maintain such intensity, the game/return bout with the timberwolves will be interesting tonight. Splitter is coming to life, so is Blair. If Bonner can be as good as when they played the hawks, the spurs can win. The timberwolves have many big guys and this poses a problem to the spurs. The role players should contribute. Maybe Malcolm Thomas will be used to check one of the big guys of the timberwolves. Another chance for James Anderson to prove his worth?