The Spurs are 1-1 so far on the Rodeo Road Trip. Squeaking out a win against the Kings and losing a close one to the Blazers. Oh and this happened! Guess the Kings scouting crew forgot Manu likes to go left.no comments
For tonight's game against the Portland Trailblazers, I collaborated with Sophia Brugato of another Bloguin blog, Bust a Bucket. We've had Matt from Bust a Bucket on the Spurscast before to preview a game, so it made sense to go back to them for tonight's Q&A. Here are Sophia's answers to my questions:
1. With Oden and Przybilla injured for the year, what will Portland have to do to keep Tim Duncan from taking over the game?
Keep the ball out of his hands. LaMarcus, Batum and to some degree Pendergraph will have to work together to cover him. I assume mostly Batum and Aldridge will have much of the "guard Timmy" assignment.
2. Who is the Blazers' go-to man without Brandon Roy?
Anyone. It literally changes every night. I think tonight , the Blazers will need Bayless to attack inside over and over again and LaMarcus to have a phenominal offensive showing in order to win.
3. The Blazers have beat the Spurs without some of their best players before. What do they have to do to do it again and sweep the season series?
See above :)
4. Andre Miller went off for 52 points but then went 3 of 13 against the Jazz. Which Andre will we see tonight?
Who knows, it all is a matter of matchups. Against the Jazz he had some not-so-favorable matchups (guarded by Williams etc.) The point is, Miller can score, just depends on his teammates, Nates lineups and the opposing guards .
5. What are your thoughts on the Blazers now that we are past midseason. Have they lived up to your expectations?
I have no expectations . That pretty much sums up my feelings as a fan this season.
6. Prediction time. Who wins, by what score and why?
Blazers by 6 because they are tired and will speed up the pace, allowing the Spurs runs that will keep score close but eventually come away with the win.
Make sure to visit Bust a Bucket for my answers to Sophia's questions and for some great Blazers coverage.
With most attention being given to the Spurs' continued struggles and Richard Jefferson's underwhelming performance this season, it's good to give emphasis on the Spurs' other offseason additions that play important roles in the Spurs' rotation. Namely Antonio McDyess and Keith Bogans.
While their signings was not as hyped as getting Richard Jefferson or drafting DeJuan Blair, they might be the additional pieces needed by the Spurs for a successful title run this season.
Let us start with Antonio McDyess. Bringing in McDyess helped fill the void left by Kurt Thomas and Fabricio Oberto. He is a solid veteran perceived as a player who can complement Duncan's game.
He has proven in the past that he can hit the mid-range jumper with consistency and can help out in getting rebounds. He is just what Duncan needed by his side in the paint.
But McDyess struggled early on with the Spurs and people started to wonder just how much he has left. For the season, he is averaging 6.2 points and 5.5 rebounds in 21 minutes of action. A far cry compared to his season average of 9.6 points and 9.8 rebounds just a year ago with the Pistons.
While his slow start could be attributed to the fact he is still learning and trying fit in to an entirely new system in San Antonio, he is also known for being a slow starter and usually find his rhythm during the second half of the season.
Unsurprisingly, he has been playing solid basketball as of late averaging 12.2 points and 5.4 rebounds in his last five outings while shooting 63% from the field. That is a welcome development for a Spurs team that needs more inside presence, toughness, court savvy and energy on the floor.
Whether McDyess' resurgence is a start of good things to come only time will tell. But if he continues to sustain his improved play throughout the season, the Spurs' front office will look like geniuses once again.
That brings us to Keith Bogans. We called the Bogans' signing an “under-the-radar” move because unlike Jefferson or McDyess, he was not big name acquisition. But with the departure of Bruce Bowen, getting Bogans was a no-brainer because he can provide much needed defense on the perimeter and can shoot the 3 at a fairly decent rate -- 35% for his career and 38% this season.
Don’t get me wrong, Bogans can’t replace Bruce. But he hustles and is a tough defender. I actually see him as poor man's version Bruce Bowen.
His numbers will not "wow" you either. He is averaging only 4.9 points, 2.8 rebounds and 1.3 assist in 20 minutes of playing time. Although his 42.3% shooting from the field is a career high.
However, Bogans has been more aggressive lately and his production have shown some improvements. He averaged 5.3 points, 1.8 rebounds and 1.5 assists on 53.3% shooting from the floor in the team's last five games.
But the Spurs they don’t expect much scoring from Bogans. Instead they need him to be a steady presence on the defensive end of the floor and any points he gives could be considered a bonus.
More than just numbers, the most important thing for both McDyess and Bogans is to continue to get comfortable with their roles and gain more confidence as the season goes on. Their veteran smarts will come in handy for the Spurs in the playoffs.
And although it could be said that McDyess and Bogans have been under-performing, there are encouraging signs. McDyess is starting to find his spots and while Bogans is not producing much on offense, his perimeter defense is arguably helping to the Spurs’ cause.
What do you guys think? Are they playing out as expected or are they turning out to be major disappointments? Send us your thoughts and opinions on this matter.
On this episode of the Spurscast, Michael and Jeff were joined by special guest Humberto Cervera of News 4 WOAI.
We looked at the Spurs at midseason, reviewed all positions along with the bench and coach, previewed the rodeo road trip and made our predictions for the second half of the season.
Humbie also gave us an insider's look at the Spurs, talked about Pop's early frustration and had a surprising prediction for the second half of this season.
"4 a : to impair the disposition or character of by overindulgence or excessive praise b : to pamper excessively : coddle"
How, exactly, does a person become spoiled? When I began approaching the question of are Spurs fans being spoiled, I began contemplating the meaning of the condition. I started considering how it starts in someone.
Does having too much of something spoil someone? There are people who have large sums of money that are extremely generous and use their wealth to benefit others. So is having too much of a good thing really enough, by itself, to spoil someone?
Perhaps having too much of something without earning it causes someone to be spoiled. There are, however, those who have unexpectedly come into money or influence suddenly, and they express tremendous gratitude and also seek to help others. So it would seem someone can't become spoiled simply by having a lot of something they didn't earn.
Maybe it's having a lot of something you didn't earn for so long you forget what it was like to not have it. You expect it to be there. You expect large amounts of it to be there, all the time, even though you've never worked for it. You feel entitled to it.
After careful consideration, I'm confident the preceding progression would lead to most people becoming spoiled. Nevertheless, Merriam-Webster's definition – and the definition of several other major dictionaries – have clearly spelled out the exact state of being spoiled. The definition states that character has to be impaired by overindulgence or excess.
That raises an important question: can a team win too much? If excess is a necessary component in spoiling someone, is it fair to say that winning can ever exist in excess? If a team wins 75 games in a year, but their division rival wins 74, doesn't that mean the unusually high numbers of wins were all necessary? What if they had the number one seed in the conference secured at 60 wins? Were those last fifteen wins overindulgent?
If the point of the game is to score more points than the other team, doesn't that make playing to the objective of the game (winning) necessary every time? It would seem that winning cannot occur in excess within pro sports.
The definition of spoiled also states that character must be impaired. Impair suggests to damage or diminish. It's hard to make judgments about a large and diverse group of people, especially when it comes to their collective character, if such a thing even exists.
Can we honestly say that the character or disposition of Spurs fans has been diminished because the team they cheer for has won a lot of basketball games? Wouldn't that be levying a charge typically reserved for unappreciative children who spend their wealthy parents' money on frivolous entertainment in amounts that approach what the average person makes in a year? Spurs fans expect their team to perform well, but I don't think they've spiraled down as far as having actual character deficiencies as a result of win percentage.
Spurs fans are surprised. They're shocked at a level of play that is inconsistent with a decade long performance ranking among the best in professional sports. The Spurs aren't playing horribly, but they are playing sub-par, according to their own standards, and that's a distinction Spurs fans are still able to make. The Spurs are like a light that has shone so brightly over the past ten years that when they diminish in radiance, even slightly, people notice. That makes Spurs fans observant, demanding at most, but not spoiled.
The (almost) Exceptions
There are always exceptions. The fan base of a professional sports team is too large and too wide spread to be entirely free of idiots. Though I believe they are in the minority, there are people whose disposition is affected by whether the Spurs win or lose. I still don't believe they qualify as being spoiled, due to the specific criteria the word's definition requires, but their character certainly seems diminished in the wake of half a season only slightly less impressive than ones that have come before it.
How does it happen? How does someone who has nothing to do with the outcome of a game or season become so emotionally dependent on the result? I think it starts with them taking pride in their team; there's nothing wrong with that. At some point, however, that pride becomes personal pride. They believe because they route for the team that wins, that somehow elevates them personally. They feel personal pride when their teams wins, and conversely they feel some level of personal shame when their team loses. They have no effect on the outcome so their frustration is two-fold. Their feelings of personal worth are being affected by a sports team they can't directly help. These people are, obviously, unhealthy and unfortunately they also tend to be excessively vocal during a season like this one.
Most Spurs fans, aren't spoiled. The ones that are having their whole lives ruined because the Spurs aren't winning as many basketball games as they have in the past, those people are just noisier than the rest of us.
Recently, there have been trade rumors circling the Spurs, and often times, the player the Spurs rumored would have to part with is Manu Ginobili. It seems for the Spurs to get any value from a trade, they would have to part ways with Ginobili.
His contract expires at the end of this season, and plenty of teams could use the services of such a battle tested veteran. But as the trade deadline gets closer, the thought of trading Ginobili seems less and less enticing. Even if it is for the chance to gain All Star center Amare Stoudemire.
Try and think about a world without Manu. All the things we Spurs fans will miss. All the things that made him stand apart from the other players of the league, and the legacy that he will leave behind if he is traded.
Silver and Black runs through Manu's veins. He is sixth all time in steals for the Spurs with 790, and is ninth in assist with 1884. He has scored 7559 points for the Spurs, which is ninth all time. But, to the City of San Antonio, he is more than a numbers on a list. He transcends the basketball court and is a part of our community. Let me put it this way, Manu Ginobili is a piece of thread, woven into the cultural fabric of San Antonio. He face is plastered on billboards all along interstate 10 and 35. Even here in Austin, he has billboards that make me proud to be a Time Warner customer.
Even though he had been playing with the Silver and Black since the 2002-2003 season, and was a vital part of our 2003 championship, it wasn't until the 2004-2005 season when a shaggy haired Manu stole our hearts with his unconventional style of play. Never before had we seen a player shred through opposing defenses and finish with thunderous dunks at the rim so effortlessly. His unorthodox style of play was a breath of fresh air to us Spurs fans who were tired of being labeled as "boring." He injected excitement and energy into not only the Spurs organization, but the city of San Antonio.
The 2005 playoffs was Manu's coming out party. That summer, he turned basketball into a dance, a graceful ballet, leaving all of us breathless and yearning for more. In the Western Conference Finals, the 62-20 Phoenix Suns had no answer for Ginobili. He was seemingly able to get to the basket at will. In one of the greatest Spurs moments of all time, Manu crossed Shawn Marion, went around the back, and did a reverse spin left handed lay up all over Amare Stoudemire. Truly vintage Ginobili. Then in Game seven of the 2005 NBA Finals, in the final quarter with the Spurs trailing, he rolled off a screen, crossed Rasheed Wallace, and finished with a monstrous dunk, shifting the momentum back to the Spurs. Another great moment in Spurs history.
After the 2005 championship, "Manu-mania" hit San Antonio like a storm. Manu, not Finals MVP Duncan, was on the cover of the Sports Illustrated Championship edition. Everywhere you looked, people were in the number 20 jersey, and it seemed San Antonio had a new favorite Spur. Women loved his long hair and good looks, men loved his fearless style of play, and San Antonio, being predominantly Hispanic, loved his Latin background.
No player in the history of the Spurs as had such an emotional impact on us like Manu Ginobili, and there is no better example of this then game 7 of the 2006 NBA Western Conference Semi-Finals. After hitting a three pointer to give the Spurs the lead in the final seconds of the game, he fouled Dirk Nowitzki at the other end while he was shooting, leading to an and one. And that's just Manu. There are times when he does things so remarkable, so unbelievable, that we ask ourselves, how did he do that? Other times, he's so reckless and careless, we wonder how he's even a professional basketball player. It's always hot or cold with him. There's been so many ups and downs with him that Six Flags could open a roller coaster called the "Manu Maniac."
It seems every Spurs fan has their favorite "Manu Moment." For me, it has to be the January 21, 2005 game against none other then the Phoenix Suns. Going into that game, the Spurs were 33and 9 and the Suns were 31and 10. It was one of those games that felt like a midseason playoff game. I was watching the game with two of my closest friends, and before the tip off, one of my friends said, "Tonight Manu is going for 48!"
And he didn't disappoint.
Manu scored exactly 48 points on 16 of 22 from the field. He shot a staggering 72 percent from the floor. The Spurs won 128 to 123 in overtime at Phoenix. And I couldn't talk for the next week. I yelled more during that game then any other regular season game, ever.
That's what we'll miss most. Those classic Manu moments that left us gasping for air. Those moments when we scratch our heads and say what just happened? Or in January, when he dove out of bounds to save a ball in overtime against the Thunder. I remember thinking to myself, "What did I just see?"
It's those moments that made Manu stand apart from all other Spurs players. Its those moments that seperated him from the entire league. He made us proud to be a Spurs fan. He made us proud to wear the Silver and Black.
Think about a world without Manu. No longer will we look at our friends and say,"How did he do that?" or "Manu I can't believe you did that!" There will be no more through the legs passes or no look around the back passes. No more Bill Schoening,"That's a Manu tres!", or my personal favorite,"Manu, that is how you do the voodoo that you do so well!" No more of the little things we take for granted every time he takes the floor.
Can you imagine Manu Ginobili, in that hideous purple and orange? The sheer thought of him in a Phoenix Suns jersey should anger any die hard Spurs fan. I've lost count of how many times I've seen him shatter the dreams of Suns fans. It was Manu Ginobili who crushed any hopes of them winning a Championship with 33 points, 11 rebounds and six assist and four steals in the series clinching game six of the 2007 NBA Western Conference Semifinals. I'm pretty sure Suns fans aren't to fond of Ginobili.
So if the trade deadline passes, and Manu is no longer in the Silver and Black, we can't take it personal. We can't hold it against R.C. Buford, because the NBA is a business, and teams have to do what is necessary to win a championship. If he gets traded, he'll get a standing ovation every time he returns to the Alamo City. And when he retires, the Spurs will hang his number 20 jersey in the rafters, right next to the three NBA championships he helped bring to San Antonio.
With the Rodeo Road Trip just around the corner, the Spurs continue to struggle and can't seem to get over the hump. The Spurs are only 8-8 in January and went 2-4 in their recent home stand before going to their annual excursion on the road.
During the past several years, the Spurs used the road trip as the turning point of their season, fine tuning plays, adjusting defensive schemes and figuring out rotations.
It can be seen as a catalyst for a big stretch run to end the regular season. But looking at the Spurs' play right now, there is plenty to fix.
This year, it's an eight game stretch that starts on Wednesday and ends on February 21. They'll head back home to face the Oklahoma City Thunder on the 24th.
The upcoming trip is somewhat unusual and might prove to be harder for the Spurs as they will bring in a lot of new faces with them Bogans, Ratliff, Jefferson, Blair and McDyess are all first timers and they have to go on with the trip with an ailing Tony Parker.
This means that the Spurs have to lean more on the seasoned Rodeo Road Trip vets such as Tim Duncan and Manu Ginobili. While Duncan arguably remains to be one of the best big men in the league, Manu is having some troubles in getting back to his old form. This season Ginobili is shooting a career-low 39% from the field.
However, George Hill has been holding the fort fairly well while Tony is out, DeJuan Blair provides much needed rebounding and Antonio McDyess is finding his groove lately giving hope for a successful trip.
At this point, the Spurs are playing well enough to win games. Many might disagree with this statement, but despite losing most of their games against stronger teams, the Spurs are not getting blown out on most of those games.
In other words an additional hustle, a defensive stop or another shot made could turn things around for the Spurs. This means, one of their main issues is consistency. Whether the road trip will fix that problem remains to be seen.
Here's a look at the Spurs' upcoming games in their annual Rodeo Road Trip.
February 3 @ Kings
In their first two games this season, the Spurs came out victorious and with a lot of rest to start the trip. The Spurs have a great chance to begin the trip on a winning note.
It's the second night of back to backs. Don't be surprised to see Coach Pop rest some of his starters. If that holds true, chalk up a win for the Blazers unless Blair takes over and put up another 20-20 performance.
February 6 @ Clippers
The Clippers have their share of struggles and injuries this season and the Spurs should be determined enough to get this win before their showdown against the Lakers.
Spurs won their first meeting. But Kobe was hurt and Pau Gasol didn't play in that game. The Lakers will be seeking revenge in this one.
February 11 @ Nuggets
The Nuggets has already beaten the Spurs twice this season and they won the last game minus Carmelo. Not looking good for the Spurs, although stealing one from the Nuggets on their home floor might not be too impossible.
February 12-16 All Star Break
Time for some needed rest while Duncan and Blair represent the Spurs in the All Star Game and Rookie Challenge respectively.
February 17 @ Pacers
The first game between these two teams was so close. It had to be decided by a point on a Duncan dunk. But the All Star Break should help rejuvenate the Spurs and make a run towards the end of the trip.
February 19 @ 76ers
The Spurs won the first time they met and I don't expect the Spurs to loose focus and fall to a team with a losing record this late in the season.
The Pistons are probably playing their worst basketball in recent memory and the Spurs should end the Rodeo trip with a win.
Will the Spurs be successful in this year's Rodeo Road Trip?
If history holds true, they probably will. However, the Spurs' normally air-tight defense has shown some leaks.
Maybe they will rally during the trip as they always seem to do. But the past month has been troubling enough that, this year; they need to win as much games as they can just to prove that they are still one of the title contenders in the league.
Prediction: The Spurs will be playing against three playoff teams in the West and five teams with losing record. Safe bet 5-3. Wishful thinking 7-1.
What do you think? Leave us a comment and try to give us your own prediction or thoughts on the Spurs' upcoming road trip.
A few weeks ago, Project Spurs looked at the top five signature moves from former or current Spurs. In that article, we looked at two signature shots from George Gervin and Tony Parker -- The "Finger Roll" and the "Tear Drop."Both shots frustrated would-be shot blockers, as Gervin and Parker put the ball in the basket with ease.
Either shot is effective in the lane but if you were on the court which shot would you prefer? Are you a "finger roll" or a "tear drop" kind of player?
George Gervin's "Finger Roll"
Before Parker's "tear drop" shot, there was Gervin's "finger roll." With the flick of his wrist, Gervin's shot would sail over the finger tips of defenders and go in the basket. Gervin's finger roll was a high arching shot and it didn't matter if the defender was closely guarding him. Gervin could get the shot off no matter what. It also helped he had the size to score over defenders with the finger roll.
Tony Parker's "Tear Drop" Shot
Parker's shot in the paint is more of a "put shot." As soon as Parker gets into the lane, he anticipates the defender coming at him and pushes the shot into the basket over the defender. Unlike Gervin, Parker needs some space to get the shot off. But unlike Gervin, Parker has speed to break down the defender if the "tear drop" is not an option.
Both are effective shots in the lane but which shot would you go to? If you broke down the defense and saw players like Jabbar in Gervin's time or Shaq in Parker's time coming at you, would you use the finger roll or teardrop? Let us know in the comments.
When asked what has changed about Tim Duncan's game over the past twelve years of his NBA career, the casual observer would remark that little has changed. As oppose to challenging that observation outright, I'll instead say that “little” is a relative term.
If you ask him, I imagine Duncan could give a lengthy list of ways that his game has changed and improved over twelve seasons. I'm sure the things he would talk about would be nuanced, perceived as minute to those of us who haven't experienced them. It's the perspective and attention to detail that only comes with experience, the ability to take something apart and understand how every tiny piece fits together.
When you think about how Duncan's game has gotten better, or changed, the reason why nothing jumps out is because he's never had to make any sweeping changes to how he plays his position. Instead he's subtly been improving all the things he was always good at. The footwork has gotten even better, the follow through on a jump hook smoother, he's learned to position himself smarter defensively.
A retrospective of Tim Duncan's career invariably has to talk about his consistency. With enough thought and some honest recollection, however, I was able to come up with a few items that highlighted some level of change in his game. They are, of course, vanilla – subtle, but valuable and instrumental nonetheless.
The first item is likely the most noticeable – free-throw shooting. Duncan's free-throw shooting has gone through a weird up-and-down ride throughout his career, but ultimately we can say that it's improved. It started around 66% in his rookie season and had a few spikes in his first few years, including 80% in '01-'02, before taking a dive for a career low .599 in 2004. This year he's at a steady 75%.
While his accuracy at the line can still be suspect, the ability to knock down free-throws has been the all important compliment to his dominant inside game. It balanced him out in a way that no other offensive component could have. He's going to get the ball inside and he's going to get fouled, therefore being able to confidently step to the line and drain a pair is exactly the skill he had to acquire.
Another key component of Duncan's growth has been his improvement as a passer. He needed to be better passer, it was a requirement considering the amount of attention paid to him by defenses. He started off unselfish enough, but occasionally lacking in knowing when and where to let off the ball.
He's gone from being a simple passer out of the post to being a conduit of the offense from the block, able to pass effectively out of double teams and know exactly when and where to capitalize off of what the defense is doing. He's able to make things happen for the offense, simply by touching the ball and then redistributing it back out.
Maybe the biggest development of Duncan as a player has been the toughness he's developed and his capacity for leadership. I think it's a consensus that Tim Duncan is mentally tough and that he always has been. Yet for some time early in his career there was a perception that Duncan was soft. It's important to note that most of that was a misconception. People misinterpreted his quiet demeanor and lack of pomp for a deficiency in toughness.
It is fair to say, however, that some of it was warranted. It was clear that as he developed there was a demonstrativeness that came with experience for Duncan. As his skills developed and his confidence grew he started imposing his will on games, demanding the ball down the stretch and generally becoming able to punish entire teams physically on both ends of the floor. There seemed a willingness to absolutely destroy the opposition that was lacking his first few years.
It was most evident in the 2003 NBA Finals. He played the best series of his life, one of the best ever. Duncan's game six performance put him in the pantheon with Magic, Bird, Russell and Jordan – amongst the greatest ever. It was during that title clinching game when I turned to someone and said, “it's like winning isn't enough – it's like he wants to erase the New Jersey Nets from basketball history.”
That kind of determination and thirst for victory, I don't think was there, or at least not as pronounced in the early part of Duncan's career. Furthermore it's been his ability to become a more demonstrative leader that was perhaps the key to the two subsequent championship runs in 2005 and 2007. Another area of his game that was once questioned, it's clear Duncan is one of the finest captains a team could want.
Duncan has without a doubt been a model of consistency, but it's a mistake to think he hasn't grown and developed. He built a game that is cemented in fundamentals and not hinged on athleticism or strength. That's given him the ability to have a long, steady career, one that will likely carry on for some time. The same commitment and work ethic that brought him into the league with a fulling developed, All-Star level game is the same one that has kept him on top of the league and also what's made him able to refine the edges of his game.
For me Tim Duncan is the epitome of self improvement. He's a testament to determined growth and an example for anyone who has ever wanted to get good at anything. Even while at the top of his profession he has continued working to get better.
Without question, we have watched one of the finest basketball players to ever live. We shouldn't let ourselves overlook the mantra that helped guide him:
Good, Better, Best. Never let it rest
Until your Good is Better, and your Better is your Best”
- Tim Duncan
Both teams without one of their marquee names, the Tony Parker-less San Antonio Spurs
(27-19) showed little signs of life against the Carmelo Anthony-less Denver Nuggets (32-15) in a nationally-televised showdown Sunday afternoon at the AT&T Center.
After wins against Atlanta and Memphis, the Western Conference fifth-ranked Spurs were set to end their six-game home stand on a short winning streak, but that ended abruptly as the second-ranked Nuggets had their say on the court.
Antonio McDyess, Richard Jefferson, Tim Duncan, George Hill and Roger Mason Jr. started off for San Antonio with first possession. Jefferson made the basket for the Spurs, scoring seven points in the first quarter alone with the first three-point shot of the game. A rousing round of keep-away broke out between Hill and Denver’s Chauncey Billups near the end of the quarter before Duncan and Ginobili stepped in to bolster the Spurs’ offense.
Billups and Martin led the Nuggets in controlling the game for most of the quarter; Denver held the lead three times before San Antonio was able to come out on top, thanks to a three-pointer at the top of the arc from Matt Bonner with 1:50 on the clock. Ginobili made a fast break to score in the last thirty seconds of the quarter, but was fouled by Martin and sent to the line, completing 1-of-2 free throws. The Spurs ended the first quarter with a 2-point lead over the Nuggets, 23-21.
Turnover-plagued Denver gave San Antonio a chance to add to its lead as DeJuan Blair came off the bench, scoring two baskets in the first minute and a half of the second. Newly-recovered Michael Finley made his debut on the court in the first quarter, but made no scoring contribution and returned to the bench after several minutes’ playing time in the second quarter. Blair continued to be a force on the court, defending heavily against Nene before turning around to score for a five-point lead.
San Antonio went into some serious offensive work halfway through the quarter, recovering quickly from missed shots and passing the ball efficiently. After a Denver basket to gain the lead, the Spurs came back as Jefferson scored and Hill turned a fast break basket into a three-point play after being fouled. Duncan added another two points to the board with free throws, while Ginobili made a three-point jumper to give the Spurs an eight point edge - their biggest lead of the game before the half.
The Spurs showed signs of trouble as J.R. Smith went on a scoring spree, leading Denver into a 12-0 run that went unanswered by San Antonio. The Nuggets recovered from their poor showing earlier in the quarter to develop a four-point lead going into halftime, 45-41, over San Antonio. The Spurs shot for 37 percent in the first half, making 3-of-11 three-point field goals and nine second-chance points.
Duncan was able to give the Spurs a little help from free throws, but Denver continued to dominate with as much as a ten-point lead for the first two and half minutes of the third until Hill, McDyess and Jefferson made consecutive baskets. San Antonio managed to overcome the Nuggets’ intense power and eventually became locked in battle for the lead, which changed six times in a two-minute span halfway through the quarter. The Nuggets eventually won out, but the Spurs remained close behind as McDyess, Ginobili and Hill tried to answer each Denver basket yet fell short, 75-68 at the end of the quarter.
Inaccurate shooting caused the fourth quarter to become more difficult than necessary for the Spurs. McDyess, who scored all 13 of his points in the second half, narrowed Denver’s lead to two points with back-to-back baskets with under four minutes to go. San Antonio was unable to regain the lead as Billups and Martin consistently scored for Denver. Duncan made the Spurs’ final basket just before Martin scored six of the Nuggets’ final eight points in the last minute and a half of the game to finalize the win over San Antonio, 103-89.
A glance at the statistics proves Sunday was not the Spurs’ best as Hill led the team in scoring with 17 points, followed by Duncan and McDyess with 16 and 13 points respectively. Duncan had 10 rebounds, while Ginobili and Jefferson each had five. In addition to their 34-of-79 shooting, San Antonio struggled with three-point shots the entire game, finishing with just 3-of-17 completions. The team had 33 rebounds, nine of which were offensive.
With the San Antonio Stock Show and Rodeo in town, the Spurs begin their annual eight-game road trip against the Sacramento Kings (16-30) on Wednesday night.