Ah, the joys of preseason NBA basketball. Aron Baynes making a clutch, game-saving basket and Kyle Korver scoring 26 points have a way of telling you exactly what part of the season it is.
In the San Antonio Spurs’ first game against recently-departed top assistant turned Atlanta Hawks head coach Mike Budenholzer, the Spurs managed to get the 106-104 win on a Baynes floater with three seconds left on the clock in regulation.
Korver, who had been hot all night, missed a corner three that was taken after the clock expired.
Tony Parker and Tim Duncan looked to be in regular season form. Parker finished with 17 points, five assists and four rebounds while Duncan added 16 points and eight rebounds.
The Spurs had a 15-point lead entering the fourth quarter after piling up 38 points in the third. It looked like both teams would empty their benches for most of the fourth, but Budenholzer sent out his starters in hopes of stealing a win at home.
With backup guards Cory Joseph and Patty Mills spending a majority of the night on the bench, Nando De Colo was on the floor for 18 minutes and part of a matchup Spurs coach Gregg Popovich went to in the second in third quarter consisting of De Colo, Manu Ginobili, Marco Belinelli, Jeff Ayres and Boris Diaw.
Ginobili and Belinelli playing together seems to be a common trend that we’ll likely see during the season. Ayres should also continue to see time on the court along with both players. The pairing seemed to work as Ginobili and Belinelli were both aggressive when the bulk of the offense was on their shoulders.
While De Colo played point guard in that lineup, Ginobili was clearly the distributor. He finished with 11 points and four assists while Belinelli racked up 13 points and four rebounds.
De Colo continues to struggle. He went 0-5 from the field and added two rebounds and one assist.
All five Hawks starters scored in double figures, lead by Korver, and they also got 11 points apiece off the bench from Mike Scott and Jared Cunningham. The Spurs’ other double-digit scorers were Patty Mills, who had 11 points in 10 minutes, and Baynes, who had a strong 11 point, seven rebound game in just 16 minutes.
The Spurs’ next preseason game will be on Saturday in Miami against the Heat. It’ll be the first time the Spurs play in American Airlines Arena since Game 7 of the 2013 NBA Finals. It’s safe to say they’ll be happy to make new memories there as opposed to the ones that have haunted them all summer.
Pop trying to showcase Nando so he can trade him-that's really only reason to play him. I think at this point, Pop's best strategy is to sit Nando and try moving him. How can a guy who looked at times last season like the real deal go downhill so fast? From the moment he lost his backup job it seems from that point through summer ball through the present he's regressed. Note to Nando: Get out of your funk so we can trade you.
On the other hand, Baynes is quietly giving steady, consistent play-and this is the second game he's delivered in the clutch. Pre-season, I know. Nonetheless, that's a confidence builder for the kid.
You feel that Popovich is more worried about De Colo's play than Joseph and Mills? Wonder if he is saying, "Okay kid, let me see how you are going to handle your funk". Yes I know, Pop would not say anything that winded.
@gymbear Great points all. I come to the same conclusion as GB re: NDC getting PG nod last night. Showcase. Too bad Nando showed nothing TO showcase. It's looking more and more like Nando will be shown the door. Re: BAYNE..love this kid. Seems unflappable. Plays hard, obviously learning, and a punishing big body that the Spurs have needed for a long time imo.
@gymbear He has never been a consistent player, here or in Europe. He sees the floor, but his reactions have always been too slow for this level. Just not enough of an athlete for his role.
Perhaps he will learn to develop a consistent shot and become G Dragic type, still. We all shouldn't hold our breath, he is not likely to see the floor very often and best would be for him to bring a late 1st round pick ?
@gymbear I was impressed with Baynes last night. Obviously he's not going to be able to do that on a nightly basis with the minutes he'll get, but the fact he was able to do it against a team with some good bigs in Horford and Milsap spoke volumes. He works his butt off and has no quit in him so he'll continue to do well. As for Nando, that's perplexing. He was looking like Manu Jr. last season at times and had flashes of brilliance but he is really reminding me a lot of Beno Udrih. Udrih had the talent but had the wrong attitude and he was out of favor quickly for that just as was Blair. Pop wants soldiers who fall in line and I don't know that Nando is willling to take a lesser role or be humble enough to handle being sent down to the D-League. He just doesn't have a role here with Joseph, Mills, Manu and Marco all coming off the bench.
@Mike ProjectSpurs ..or maybe he was being showcased as possible trade bait? In my opinion, this is one of the things I like about the Spurs/FO. There are always things fans are left to wonder about. FO plays it close to the vest.
@jojo707 @gymbear I would LOVE a late first round pick for Nando. Deeper draft next year with some intriguing guys. Heck, I'd take a 2nd round pick and a gym bag for Nando. I'd take the rights to some other Euro still playing in Europe for Nando.
Basically I'd take just about anyone not named Nando De Colo for Nando De Colo.
I still think the guy has potential to be a steady player, but he needs 20 plus minutes a night and that ain't happening here.
I like the way he played against D Howard.
This pre-season he has been consistent.
Can't coach that kind of size/strength and nasty attitude. That attitude (he said himself last year when he first came here he 'likes to mix things up with guys, play physical') -and we'll need that. He's the only big we have with that kind of size. Ayers comes in a close second, but the rest of our bigs are basically finesse guys.
I'd really like to see Boris play more of the stretch 4, get rid of Bonner and let Boris, Ayers and Baynes be our big guys off the bench.
It's already a fact Bonner won't be deliver in the playoffs. Why keep the guy around if the goal is a ring? Bonner is an apparent wonderful and nice guy, but at this point in the TD Era, why waste a roster space on a guy who can't deliver in the playoffs?
I'm doing my best to vote CoJo, Bonner and De Colo off the Island in exchange for someone who can actually help us and watching the waiver wires as well.