The Milwaukee Bucks came into San Antonio last night after coming from behind to beat the Dallas Mavericks and busting their winning streak.
Early in the game, it looked like the Spurs wouldn't face the same problems as they had a 15 point lead going into the half, but the second half proved other wise, as the Bucks made a 19-5 run.
With the game on the line, tied 90-90 with seconds left in the fourth quarter, Manu Ginobili did what we've seen him do several times now, win the game for the Spurs.
Ginobili was heavily guarded by Luc Mbah a Moute, when he put up the fallaway jumper that went through the net as the buzzer sounded, giving the Spurs a 92-90 win.
Sandwiched between Ginobili's game tying three-pointer and his game winner were two layups that were blocked by Andrew Bogut, so he said he knew he didn't want to take it back into the paint for the final shot.
"It was a tough shot, (Mbah a Moute) guarded me really well. Anyway, I prefer playing against one, not against two, him and Bogut," Ginobili said. "I got lucky. I made the shot and we all celebrated."
While many in the AT&T Center celebrated and some of the players may have been happy to leave San Antonio with a win, Spurs coach Gregg Popovich had other things in mind.
"Manu hit a hell of a shot to pull it out for us. We played a great half, but we didn’t play 48 minutes. I thought in the second half they were more aggressive," Popvich said. "I thought our defense really let up and I thought mentality wise, we did a very poor job in the third and fourth quarters as far as making stops and let them back in the ballgame."
"We were just lucky. Just a lucky win"
It's hard to disagree. There is likely way too much tape on their defensive inconsistencies throughout the second quarter.
While Tim Duncan got seven blocks at the rim, there were also way too many open shots due to the Spurs being slow on closeouts. Even when players did close out quick, some of the bigs need to start chopping their feet as they attempt to close out on someone else's player. In the process, the Bucks players flew by them and got to the rim or pulled up for open mid-range jumpers.
Luckily on the last play of the game, the defense showed up and allowed the Spurs the chance to win the game.
"RJ and Tony, Tony was unbelievable chasing Jennings. He’s not the type of player that’s easy to stop, so it was a great job defensively and TD got the rebound and called the timeout right away so we had time to design a play and do it with time," Ginobili said.
Ginobili had 26 points, six rebounds and four assists. Tim Dunan had 13 points, 11 rebounds and an impressive seven blocked shots. Tony Parker finished the game with 16 points and eight assists.
With the win, the Spurs are now a league best 21-3 and will look to improve on that tonight against Denver.
Note: Tiago Splitter left the game in the third quarter with a right adductor contusion and is day-to-day. DeJuan Blair also left the game with a hyperextended right knee.
The Milwaukee Bucks came into San Antonio last night after coming from behind to beat the Dallas Mavericks and busting their winning streak.
The San Antonio Spurs extended their winning streak to six games with a close 92-90 victory over the hard-fighting Milwaukee Bucks.
Manu Ginobili scored a game-high 26 points and made the winning jumper over Luc Mbah a Moute as time expired.
It's now time to take a look at some of the numbers that stood out in this Spurs' exciting win.
87.5 - The Bucks made their free throws, making 14-16 (87.5%) of their foul shots. The Spurs only made 17-25 (68.0%) free throws.
54.5 - Milwaukee connected of their outside shots making 6-11 (54.5%) three-pointers while the Spurs made 3-8 (37.5%) of their shots from behind the arc.
52 - The Spurs shot well from the field making 36-69 (52.2%) of their shot from the floor. While the Bucks made 35-79 (44.3%) of their field goal attempts. The Spurs also outscored the Bucks on inside points 52-40.
24 - San Antonio shared the ball well. They finished the game with 24 assists compared to the Bucks' 17.
22 - The Spurs used their running game outscoring the Bucks 22-11 on fastbreak points.
21 - Chris Douglas-Roberts led the Bucks with 21 points, three rebounds and two assists.
20- Drew Gooden played well against his former team scoring 20 points and grabbing 11 rebounds.
7- Tim Duncan and Andrew Bogut played a hell of a game for their respective teams. Duncan had 13 points, 11 boards and seven blocks for the Spurs. On the other hand, Bogut had 15 points, seven rebounds and seven block shots for the Bucks.
6 - George Hill scored just six points off the bench, that snapped a string of 11 games in which he scored in double figures. DeJuan had six points and three rebounds in 18 minutes of action.
0 - Antonio McDyess had two points, two rebounds and two assists in 15 minutes of playing time and did not commit a single turnover.
Rookie Watch: Gary Neal scored just three points on 1-5 shooting from the field in 12 minutes. Tiago Splitter left the game early after suffering a right adductor contusion, he scored two points and dished out one assist in four minutes of playing time.
What's Next? The Spurs will visit the Denver Nuggets at the Pepsi Center tonight.
Follow Robby Lim on Twitter @RobbyLim21
• According to Yahoo! Sports, San Antonio Spurs' coach Gregg Popovich is set to sign a contract extension:
Popovich has long joked that he plans to retire about 30 seconds after Duncan plays his final game, and his contract allowed him to do that: Like that of Duncan, it was set to expire after next season. Parker and Ginobili, understandably, wanted assurances their coach would wait another few years to tend to his vineyard.
“I kind of feel I have to commit to those guys,” Popovich said.
Though the addendum to Popovich’s contract might not be formally completed, it’s close to a formality to those within the organization. Even as the team struggled last season, Spurs owner Peter Holt made clear he wanted Popovich to stay on the sideline during the inevitable transition.
“He suggested that maybe he could have some kind of consulting role,” Holt said. “I told him I didn’t need a consultant; I need a coach.”
This is fantastic news for not only the franchise but for Spurs fans around the world. Not seeing Pop patrol the sidelines during games, his sarcastic banter with the media (something I can personally attest to) and winning attitude would be sorely missed.
• I recently named former Spur Bruce Bowen one of the best defensive players in franchise history and mentioned about his reputation as a "dirty player." Despite his defensive prowess, it seems not even in retirement can he escape this reputation. Bowen ranked the fourth dirtiest player in sports history by best.complex.com.
Really? In sports history! Should Spurs fans be upset or impressed?
• A great read from Express News' Tim Griffin discussing the importance of stability from the Spurs starting five:
While San Antonio’s bench has been one of the most productive in the league, the starting five of DeJuan Blair, Tim Duncan, Richard Jefferson, Manu Ginobili and Tony Parker has been the bedrock on which the team’s 20-3 start has been built upon.
• For those old enough to remember former Spurs' coach Stan Albeck then you have to read this article from spurs.com on the man who coached Spurs' legend George Gervin. He suffered a stroke but that hasn't stopped him from cheering for the Spurs and watching his favorite player Manu Ginobili:
Once a Spurs coach in the George Gervin era (1980-83), now a rabid fan, Stan Albeck pulls for the Silver and Black as hard as anyone. He rarely misses a home game. A stroke in the Toronto Raptors locker room – 30 minutes before tip-off in December 2001 – left him partially paralyzed. But the disability also turned his life around.
• Reigning Black talks about Tim Duncan, his career and Popovich:
Has Duncan finally reached that point in his career? Or are he and Gregg Popovich simply taking a page from former Spur Robert Horry's playbook and saving their best for the playoffs?
Read more HERE and what do you think about this?
• Spurs' guard Gary Neal discusses the team's winning ways, double-digit victories, the Spurs' shooting percentage and more in this video from woai.com:
If you're like me, you enjoy listening to the San Antonio Spurs' TV announcers of Bill Land, Sean Elliott and newly added Malik Rose. Land with his "Oh Mama!" whenever a Spurs player does a fantastic play on the court and Elliott for his dry, witty comments.
However, don't tell that to ESPN's David Thorpe.
In one of his ESPN chats, Thorpe was asked about local TV crews and which were his favorites. He mentioned a few but also gave his thoughts on the Spurs TV crew:
Celts and Spurs have terrific organizations, but their tv guys are not remotely objective or particularly informed.
Thanks Thorpe. I guess the fact they cover the Spurs should not weigh in your thoughts huh?
Do you expect them to be cheering for the opposing team? And did you just infer Land and Elliott are not knowledgeable about the game? In case you forgot, Elliott played the game, was an All-Star and won an NBA championship. Rose also played the game and gives insight to the Spurs inner-workings and also won a title with the Spurs. Land does say when the refs make the right call even if it does go against the Spurs.
Might want to rethink your thoughts on the Spurs TV crew Thorpe.
For a preview of tonight's game between the San Antonio Spurs and the Milwaukee Bucks, I got together one of the best Bucks writers I know, Frank Madden of BrewHoop.
Frank has been writing at Brewhoop since he helped start it back in October of 2007, but his Bucks fandom didn't start there.
Here are his answers to my questions about tonight's game:
1. The Bucks just had a great win over Dallas, which stopped their win streak at 12 games. The Spurs, like the Mavs, also have gotten off to a great start this season. What will the Bucks have to do to sweep Texas?
It always starts with defense for Scott Skiles, but teams that have given the Bucks trouble have generally had attacking guards who can draw defenders and get their teammates easy shots. Generally speaking, the Bucks try to crowd the lane and cut off dribble penetration as much as possible and force teams to beat them with jump-shooting--last time I checked, no team allowed fewer shots inside of ten feet than the Bucks. So preventing guys like Parker and Manu from getting to the rim is generally job one for the Bucks, and hoping the Spurs perimeter shots don't fall is closely related.
Offensively it's been a major struggle all season. Virtually everyone on the team has been well below their career averages in shooting efficiency, and even Jennings is still well below average in that department despite improving on his rookie year. Salmons and Maggette (though he's gotten to the line a ton) have not been able to finish around the hoop with any type of consistency, and that's a big issue given how much the Bucks rely on them to create offense. Jennings has improved from a year ago, but I think he has a way to go in terms of creating easy shots for teammates and managing the offense.
Bogut is the other key guy offensively, and he's been on a real roll since coming back from his back injury (21 ppg, 16 rpg over the last five). While he's a solid post player who needs touches down low to keep the offense balanced, it's also really important that the Bucks get him the ball on the go--off P&R, penetration, screens across the lane, etc. Everyone knows Bogut needs to touch the ball, but it's more difficult to keep him involved since he's not going to score unless he catches the ball within 10 feet of the hoop.
2. What's your early assessment of Larry Sanders so far this season?
The Bucks were a bit spoiled after getting Jennings 10th overall in 2009, but I think everyone has generally been pleased with what we've seen of Larry. He's a nice kid who works hard, has the physical tools to be a disruptive defender at both big positions, and he has a surprisingly nice stroke out to around 18 feet as well. I'm not sure how much longer he'll start at PF given Drew Gooden is getting healthy, but playing him next to Bogut makes the Bucks really hard to score on inside and could very well be the long-term pairing the Bucks use at the big positions.
That said, he has a very long way to go in understanding the NBA game and how to use his tools. He tends to settle for jump shots and has not distinguished himself as a finisher, which explains why his efficiency has been rather unacceptable for an athletic big man. Defensively, he doesn't have the kind of lower body strength to hold post position against really big guys, and that's also limited his effectiveness as a rebounder. He blocks a ton of shots, but he not surprisingly commits a lot of fouls as well and can be prone to biting on pump fakes. Overall, I'm not sure he'll ever develop the offensive game to be a major impact player, but his versatility as a defender should keep him in the league a long time.
3. It's still months away, but has Bogut done enough this season to earn an All-Star spot?
I think he has, but then again it's going to be very difficult at that position with guys like Al Horford and Joakim Noah competing for the same spot (I'll ignore Amare for the moment). Though he's a skilled guy around the hoop, his offensive numbers would be the main thing holding him back from an all-star perception standing point, as he's been playing through pain in his right arm for most of the season, has struggled mightily from the line and hasn't been very consistent in the post either. But Bogut's quietly developed into one of the league's best defenders over the past couple years, and Bucks fans have to be rather ecstatic that his rebounding (12.3 rpg, 2nd in the league) and shot-blocking (league-leading 2.9 bpg) have actually improved since his horrific arm injury last year. Though he doesn't have the pure physical talents of a Dwight Howard, he just reads the game exceptionally well--such as knowing when to take a charge vs. go for the block.
4. Who has been the Bucks' biggest surprise player this season? Douglas-Roberts, Delfino, Gooden or someone else?
Delfino was playing the best ball of his career early in the season, so losing him to another concussion has been a big blow. He's not exceptional at anything, but he's versatile, does all the little things, and could be a useful 25-30 mpg guy on any team in the league in my opinion. The Bucks especially miss his ability to space the floor, particularly now that Mbah a Moute has been starting at SF. Delfino was normally the guy parked in the weak side corner looking for open threes, which helped open the court for guys like Jennings and Salmons, but it's much easier for defenses to crowd the lane with someone like Luc at SF. Other than Delfino, CD-R has shown some nice scoring instincts off the bench since returning from eye injury, and that's been particularly useful given the struggles of Salmons and Maggette.
5. There is definitely potential for some great matchups, including Duncan-Bogut and Parker-Jennings. Which will be the key matchup and why?
I think it starts with Jennings/Parker. As mentioned earlier, the Bucks could be in for a long night if they can't adequately contain dribble penetration, and offensively everything starts with Jennings. The Bucks have been bad all season on that end, and much of their offensive strategy is predicated on high P&R action where they try to get Jennings going toward his preferred left. If the Spurs can show hard or double and force Jennings moving laterally rather than getting going towards the basket then Bucks become pretty easy to defend--they just don't have enough shooters or other shot creators to punish you. Brandon has generally been better about attacking and converting at the rim this season and he's also gotten his three point shot back over the past few weeks, but he's streaky and you never know what you're going to get. Teams are generally well-served trying to force him into mid-range jump shots, and if his shot isn't falling it's important that he find other ways to make the offense work.
Otherwise Salmons is usually the x-factor for the Bucks. Aside from Jennings, he's the other guy who the Bucks rely on to initiate offense, so when he's off--as he has been most of the season--then they have a really difficult time scoring consistently. Against the Mavs they had guys like CD-R, Dooling, and Ilyasova picking up the slack, but that hasn't been typical thus far.
6. What is your prediction for tonight's game?
I'd have a hard time predicting a Bucks win with a straight face, but I'd be surprised if they weren't competitive--after all, this is still a Scott Skiles team and they should be fairly confident after the Mavericks game. The Bucks have somehow been winning close games of late, which is interesting given their lack of a consistent go-to guy, and keeping the game close up until the last two minutes is generally the most you can ask for when playing a team like the Spurs. But I'd certainly favor the Spurs if the game goes down to the wire, simply because Salmons has been miserable late in games and neither Jennings nor Bogut are reliable late-game scoring options either.
Thanks to Frank for taking the time to answer my questions and make sure to look for my answers to his questions over at BrewHoop this afternoon.
Tiago Splitter is part of the San Antonio Spurs' future plans. He was considered to be the best big man outside of the NBA seeing how he was named ACB league MVP before coming to San Antonio.
However, a month and a half into his rookie NBA season, Splitter is having difficulty getting consistent playing time in coach Gregg Popovich’s frontcourt rotation.
When Splitter finally signed in July, most NBA observers believed Popovich had a new starting center to pair with Tim Duncan. The search for Duncan's side-kick was over. Right?
That hasn’t panned out quite yet. In fact, Splitter and Duncan have rarely been on the court together at all.
Splitter has played in 19 games averaging 4.5 points and 2.5 rebounds while shooting 50.8% from the floor in 11 minutes per ball game. He has scored in double figures on two occasions. The first came on a November 25 win over Cleveland Cavaliers where he had 18 points and five rebounds while playing 26 minutes and then scored 12 points and grabbed six boards in 24 minutes of action against the Golden State Warriors last December 8.
Clearly if given more playing time, Splitter could proved to be the big man the Spurs are hoping for.
However, the Spurs seem to take a very careful approach with Splitter and this have drawn some ire from some Spurs fans eager to see more of Splitter on the floor.
It's apparent he's eager to show the Spurs what he can bring to the table but hasn't got the needed break yet. Also, he has a clear grasp of the Spurs scheme, and even in limited minutes he has been effective and has shown excellent potential.
So why is he not getting the minutes? Here are some probable reasons:
- He is coming from a various injuries leading up to his arrival in San Antonio including suffering a strained calf muscle injury during training camp thus his learning process of the Spurs system slowed down.
- He missed the entire preseason including the first few games of the regular season.
- Besides Duncan, three of the Spurs frontcourt rotation players (DeJuan Blair, Antonio McDyess and Matt Bonner) are all back with the team making it difficult for Tiago to get significant playing time.
- Bonner has been effective in stretching the floor for the Spurs in the most part this season.
- McDyess continues to be a steady veteran presence providing some needed hustle and grit.
- After a slow start, Blair seems to be in tuned with the team's starting unit.
For Splitter it's like trying to fit to a team that is already made which can be tough. Let's face it, playing a supporting role is brand new for him but he will continue to get spot minutes until coach Popovich is comfortable enough to put him in for longer stretches.
Now here is food for thought: if the frontcourt is crowded, and he needs more time on the court to continue to adapt to the Spurs system, then why not send him to the Austin Toros for a few games and see what happens?
OK let the angry comments come in and the uproar from Spurs fans begin.
This is by no means any disrespect for Splitter or his game. What I know is with Toros, he can play a lot of minutes and his learning curve with the Spurs' complex system could be cut short. By doing so, the Spurs will see more of Tiago in action and will be able to pin-point what he needs to improve on and what schemes he needs to familiarize on.
And then, they could simply call him up when they feel that he's ready. Sounds like a win-win doesn't it?
What do you think?
• Think Manu Ginobili appreciates being a San Antonio Spur? Indeed he does! Check out what he said via Twitter on being with the Spurs franchise:
• Into stats? Then check out Express News' Tim Griffin's post on the Spurs' Tim Duncan and Manu Ginobili tied for the team lead in plus-minus:
The Spurs clearly play better when Duncan is on the floor. Bonner has been the best 3-point shooting big man in the league. George Hill is playing at a level that could lead him to the NBA’s Sixth Man of the Year.
• The Spurs face the Milwaukee Bucks tomorrow and if the Bucks get the win over the Spurs then they will lay claim to have won against all three Texas NBA teams:
They beat Houston at home on Friday night, using a 24-point, 22-rebound, 5-block game from Andrew Bogut to get it done.
On Monday in Dallas, the Bucks received a huge bench effort inspired by Ersan Ilyasova, Keyon Dooling and Chris Douglas-Roberts to snap the Mavericks' 12-game winning streak.
Now for maybe the toughest part. The Bucks headed to San Antonio on a charter flight after their 103-99 victory in Dallas. Next up will be the NBA's top team, the 20-3 San Antonio Spurs.
"That's big for us," Jennings said after the Bucks' victory improved their road record to 3-8. "But we've got another tough team, one of the best teams in the NBA, San Antonio. We've got to go in there and take care of business. (source jsonline.com)
The Spurs can't sleep on this Bucks team. They beat the Mavericks, Bogut plays very well against the Spurs and Jennings can catch fire and explode offensively.
• A contract between Time Warner Cable and Sinclair Broadcasting Group is still not renewed and if it doesn't get renewed by December 31, then San Antonio Spurs fans in San Antonio may not catch a few games on the CW channel after January 1, 2011. (source Express News)
• The Spurs recent victory was over the Portland Trail Blazers holding them to 78 points. Check out our fellow Bloguin blogger Beyond the Beat's four reasons why the Blazers lost to the Spurs:
First, their bench continued to struggle. They weren’t able to score consistently or keep San Antonio’s reserves in check. After combining to shoot 0-11 in victory over Phoenix, the duo of Rudy Fernandez and Nicolas Batum managed to make only three field goals in fourteen attempts. Overall, the unit was 7-26 shooting with a measly two assists and two free-throw attempts. They have some good players, but the bench is lacking an inside presence. This has allowed the Spurs to primarily defend the perimeter. In turn, a predictable offense was once again run.
Click HERE to find out reasons two through four. Do you agree?
• So that UFO Manu Ginobili saw in California turned out to be Red Bull skydivers:
"As soon as I saw the videos on the news I busted up laughing," DeVore wrote on redbullairforce.com, which also includes footage of one of the jumps. "It was us jumping with our night flares." (source smdp.com)
Note: We apologize for the poor audio quality, due to using a cellphone while out of town and in a bad reception area.
Jeff and I got together last night for our weekly ritual of talking San Antonio Spurs basketball and the latest news.
We started the show off by recapping the week since we last talked, which was a 4-0 run, including impressive wins against the Hornets, Hawks and Blazers. We also talked about whether or not the Spurs will be able to continue at this level of success throughout the season and Jeff and I both agree that it would be very difficult to top or repeat what they've done so far this season, but we still expect them to have a successful season and be a top seed going into the playoffs.
In the second half of the show, our topic of the week was whether or not the Spurs can sustain their current hot shooting and if fans can expect to see the same percentages throughout the season. Be sure to listen in to hear what our thoughts are on the topic.
Also make sure to tune in this weekend as we go live before the Memphis Grizzlies game. We'll also have live chat during the show and during the game, and if possible, a post-game show as well.
The Spurscast. The first and original San Antonio Spurs podcast.
Intro Music: "Hold on" by Korn
With a 20-3 record heading into a match-up with the Milwaukee Bucks tomorrow night, the San Antonio Spurs seem to have found the right balance between their offense and defense. This season the Spurs are averaging 106.4 points per game and allow 96.5 points per game.
So what does Tim Duncan have to say about the Spurs winning with offense and defense? Find out.
(video courtesy of woai.com)