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.
In hostile territory with momentum turned and yet another large first half lead having dwindled to a single point in the fourth quarter, the San Antonio Spurs abandoned execution and rode the individual brilliance of Manu Ginobili to a 98-93 victory over the Charlotte Hornets.
Clinging to an 86-85 lead with four minutes remaining, a series of dribble hand-offs failed to gain the Spurs any traction against an active Hornets’ defense. With less than 10 seconds remaining on the shot clock, Matt Bonner flipped the ball back to Ginboili, curling from the top of the key to his right towards the rim.
With Cody Zeller in his path and the ever looming Bismack Biyombo forming a wall behind him, Ginobili lofted a hanging, twisting prayer with his left hand and all momentum fading to his right, salvation found as the ball settled to the bottom of the net.
And so it was that every Hornets run was answered by one of Ginobili’s patented exaggerated Euro steps, knifing drives, or back-breaking three-pointers. In nearly 24 minutes Ginobili provided 27 points on 14 shots, yet it almost wasn’t enough.
Welcome to your weekly dose of Corporate Knowledge, a feature I’m bringing over from my days at 48 Minutes of Hell. This will be a weekly look at news and writing pertinent to the San Antonio Spurs from around the internet, so if you have something you’d like to submit just send it to me on Twitter (@BlanchardJRB).
A post curating links from across the NBA Blogosphere is hardly unique, so to add a little something I like to use this space to respond to the writers and expand the conversation. It was a busy week with the return of Patty Mills, another loss to the Memphis Grizzlies, and Tim Duncan’s tip-in against the New Orleans Pelicans to end December with yet another overtime game. So keep this tab open, save it for Saturday or Sunday morning barbacoa and Big Red, and catch up on the week that was:
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.