The San Antonio Spurs notably returned the entirety of their 2014 NBA Championship roster, adding only rookie Kyle Anderson to shore up lagging doughnut responsibilities. However, that the same cast and crew are back does not mean larger roles aren’t up for grabs.
Last year Cory Joseph was more stunt double than backup, on the court only to spare Tony Parker the most dangerous rigors of an NBA season. But if each season writes a new story, Joseph is the background character the author found a little more time to flesh out in the second book.
It’s been some time since Austin Daye played more than cleanup minutes for the San Antonio Spurs, so the Minnesota Timberwolves can be forgiven if they failed to include him in their scouting report.
Still, allowing a player–scouting report or not–to part your defense like Moses in the Red Sea and throw down anf uncontested dunk hardly seems like something that requires spelling out on the white board.
And yet, with a simple kick-out pass from Boris Diaw, Daye gave a shot fake to dismiss a lone rotating defender, driving all the way from the three-point line as the rest of the Timberwolves’ defense stood still and watched.
San Antonio Spurs point guard Cory Joseph slices through the Washington Wizards defense.
Heading into his fourth season, San Antonio Spurs point guard Cory Joseph was still a mystery to the NBA, though one that some light would be shed on with Patty Mills expected to miss half the season while recovering from shoulder surgery.
Injuries to Tony Parker, however, turned opportunity into necessity, which often breeds invention. And the Spurs have needed Joseph to reinvent himself from caretaker to playmaker, the evolution showing itself in the first half of the Spurs 102-91 victory over the Washington Wizards.
With Tim Duncan and Manu Ginobili struggling–each shooting 2-8 for the game–it was Joseph who kept the Spurs afloat in the first half, scoring 17 of his 19 points, while the Wizards torched the Spurs’ defense with 58 points on 60.5 percent shooting.
“God gave us memory so that we might have roses in December.”
-James M. Barrie
Grayed and grounded by winter and the Memphis Grizzlies, the San Antonio Spurs continued their stumble through December, securing their first losing month since 1999.
A barrage of injuries, losses, and exhausting overtime games has made the harsh cold of December brutal and seemingly never-ending for the San Antonio Spurs. But Sunday night’s surprising return of Patty Mills and a potentially stabilizing 110-106 victory over the Houston Rockets offers some respite for the weary defending champions.
Mills was shaky in his return, as could be expected after months removed from the basketball court following offseason shoulder surgery. A bevy of missed shots (0-4 from three-point territory) and turnovers (five) did little to dissuade his teammates’ enthusiasm for the hyperactive point guard’s return.
“His energy, just his activity was contagious. It brought a huge spark to the team,” Tim Duncan said. “Even he’ll say he didn’t play the greatest, but he made such a huge impact just being back out there.”
The Spurs confidence in Mills paid off down the stretch, with Mills scoring eight points and pressuring James Harden into a decisive turnover in the closing minute while playing almost the entirety of the fourth quarter.
“[It was rough] with the grind that the guys were going through, coming into the locker room knowing that they were tired and that there weren’t that many subs to give them a break,” Mills said. “It was disappointing thing for me because I felt helpless.”
Mills returned to a standing ovation from the San Antonio crowd, infusing the AT&T Center with energy. But perhaps his greatest contribution was some measure of a return to normalcy.