When the San Antonio Spurs had lost on Friday to the Detroit Pistons, poor defense was a main reason for the loss. Then, the Spurs allowed the Pistons to score 119 points, and score 30 or more points in three straight quarters.
Sunday began as Friday ended, as the Brooklyn Nets outscored the Spurs 35-25 in the first quarter and rebounding was once again looking like a huge concern with the Spurs playing another game without Tim Duncan and Manu Ginobili.
However, the second quarter came and the Spurs showed some life defensively by holding the Nets to 22 points. Another positive sign came with the Spurs holding the Nets to 14 points in the third quarter. By the time the night had ended, Tony Parker (29 points, 11 assists) and a number of his teammates had cruised to a 111-86 victory in Brooklyn behind a dominant second half in which the defense held the Nets to 29 points, while the offense exploded for 60 points in the last two quarters.
Here are some other key points on how the Spurs earned their 40th victory of the season.
Parker on fire
During the game, the Grammy musical awards were being shown on CBS. In between a timeout in the Spurs-Nets game, Alicia Keys sang her song, “Girl on Fire.” Parker might know something about being on fire as he once again led his team to the victory in a variety of ways. Whether it was hitting the outside jumpers the Nets dared him to shoot, setting up his teammates for 3-pointers or layups, or entertaining the entire arena with one unique spin move for a layup, Parker was the leader again with 29 points and 11 assists. If LeBron James and Kevin Durant weren’t in NBA, it might be safe to say right now Parker is the MVP of the 2012-2013 NBA season through February.
Green, Bonner, and 3-pointers
Though the Spurs fell behind by as much as 12-points in the game, one of the constant weapons they had in their arsenal throughout the night was the 3-point ball. The Spurs made 12-of-19 three’s on the night, and from beyond the arc was where Danny Green (14 points) and Matt Bonner (11 points) inflicted most of their damage. Green was the deadly shooter in the third quarter, as he was hitting three’s off of screens and pump faking his defender and drilling the three, while Bonner was the shooter in the fourth where he was making any 3-pointer that came to him. Green made 4-of-8 three pointers on the night, while Bonner shot 100% (3-of-3) from distance.
The dynamic frontcourt
Having to defend Brook Lopez (18 points) is no easy task. However the Spurs’ frontcourt did an excellent job of playing defense on Lopez while also scoring in a variety of ways to keep the Nets off their toes. Tiago Splitter was once again a pick-and-roll monster as he finished the game with 13 points and nine rebounds, while Boris Diaw was his unique self as he shot 2-of-2 from beyond the arc to finish with 10 points.
Throwing the first quarter out of the game, the Spurs’ overall team defense was the main reason for their win. The team held the Nets to 47% shooting, and only allowed the Nets to outrebounded them 39-28 on the night. The defense forced the Nets into 18 turnovers which the offense turned into 19 points. Without Duncan, the defense made a statement by holding the Nets to just 29 points total in the second half. Kawhi Leonard was key with three steals while Green also gathered two steals while forcing Joe Johnson to shoot 8-of-16 for just 19 points.
The Spurs’ bench outscored the Nets’ bench 36-28 on the night, but it was when the Spurs’ bench scored that was most telling. Gary Neal and Bonner both had their most efficient play when it mattered most, the fourth quarter.
The Spurs won’t have much time to celebrate their 40th win as they have a back-to-back game in Chicago (30-20) on Monday where they’ll face the Bulls for the first time this season. Though the Bulls are without Derrick Rose, they’re currently the fourth seed in the Eastern conference and are 15-10 at home. It’ll be interesting to see if Parker and Splitter play, as both players tallied over 30 minutes of action on Sunday.
Where they stand
The victory over the Nets makes the Spurs the first team to 40 wins this season, with just 12 losses. The team also improved to 18-10 on the road and 2-1 on their Rodeo Road Trip. Winning by 25 points made Sunday the Spurs’ 22nd victory by 10 or more points and put the team at 18-9 vs. winning teams like the Nets.
If Tony can sustain this type of play against the best in the West (Thunder, Clippers), there is little doubt in my mind that we can win the Larry O'Brien trophy this June. He DECIMATED the Nets defense in the second half. It was amazing to watch Tony make the right play literally every single time down (0 TO's!).
I've been so hard on Tony over the years precisely because I know he can put up this type of performance every night if he really wanted to. He has the best footwork of any guard in the league when he gets into the paint which he adeptly demonstrated tonight multiple times. When Tony gets to the paint and starts pivoting around like that, it's usually checkmate for the opposing defense. I just hope that come playoff time, when Tim or Manu are having an off game and we need someone to come through, Tony can lead us like he did tonight. What an incredible performance to watch!!!
@CraigThomasHe's been doing this for years. "3 rings and a Finals MVP". But it shouldn't be just Tony Parker stepping up if Duncan and Ginobili aren't doing well. We need all of our players to step up and help contribute. Tony has had to do a lot this year, and if not for his aggressive play we would not have won many of the games we did.