Player Grades: San Antonio Spurs 100, New York Knicks 99

Grades
New York Knicks 99 Final
Recap | Box Score
100 San Antonio Spurs
LaMarcus Aldridge, PF 34 MIN | 8-17 FG | 0-0 3FG | 0-0 FT | 9 REB | 2 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 2 TO | 16 PTS | -6 +/-Started slow and let Kristaps Porzingis get the better of him, but then realized he’s much stronger than the rookie, and buried him under the basket. Did a good job recognizing different match-ups and attacking accordingly, taking Porzingis into the post and Robin Lopez out for his face-up game.

Kawhi Leonard, SF 37 MIN | 8-19 FG | 0-2 3FG | 3-4 FT | 12 REB | 0 AST | 2 STL | 2 BLK | 1 TO | 19 PTS | -4 +/-This season Kawhi has unveiled some Jordanesque moments, like when the drove into Porzingis’ body, took the contact, and flipped the ball over his shoulder with perfect body control for the finish. But, perhaps, more than the highlights is the Jordanesque ability to destroy someone’s will, harassing Carmelo Anthony to the point where, on several possessions (including the last), he simply refused to shoot.

Tim Duncan, C 21 MIN | 3-5 FG | 0-0 3FG | 1-2 FT | 5 REB | 1 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 2 TO | 7 PTS | +6 +/-Continues to fill the gaps as needed in limited minutes, doing all the dirty work.

Tony Parker, PG 32 MIN | 7-16 FG | 0-2 3FG | 2-2 FT | 5 REB | 8 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 16 PTS | +2 +/-Tony Parker continues to do a fantastic job of picking his spots, taking full advantage of his match-up with Jose Calderon. The Parker-Aldridge high pick and roll works as a reliable end of shot clock weapon, freeing one of the two for an open midrange jumper, which helped to hold off the Knicks.

Danny Green, SG 35 MIN | 3-9 FG | 2-3 3FG | 0-0 FT | 4 REB | 3 AST | 2 STL | 3 BLK | 2 TO | 8 PTS | +8 +/-The focus on Green this season has been on his shooting woes, and though he shots just 3-for-9, he hit 2-for-3 from deep. But his defense has been invaluable to this dominant Spurs’ team. How frustrating must it be, if you’re Carmelo Anthony, to be hounded by Kawhi Leonard all game, and finally break free, only to get blocked by Green?

David West, PF 16 MIN | 2-6 FG | 0-0 3FG | 2-2 FT | 4 REB | 2 AST | 0 STL | 3 BLK | 0 TO | 6 PTS | +8 +/-Reliable source of physical defense, some floor spacing and ball movement, and a far more intimidating “I didn’t foul” face than Duncan making his eyes bigger.

Boris Diaw, C 18 MIN | 3-6 FG | 0-0 3FG | 2-2 FT | 4 REB | 1 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 8 PTS | +3 +/-His post game has become the point of attack for the second unit, taking advantage of a smaller NBA more than guys like Lance Thomas can return the favor.

Patty Mills, PG 16 MIN | 0-1 FG | 0-1 3FG | 2-2 FT | 0 REB | 3 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 2 PTS | -1 +/-Didn’t get many attempts, but moved the ball and pressured on defense.

Jonathon Simmons, SG 9 MIN | 1-2 FG | 0-0 3FG | 0-1 FT | 1 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 2 PTS | -8 +/-Appeared to be part of some lineups that struggled to move the ball and score, and while that’s not all directly attributed to him, he did little to impact the game in his time on the floor.

Manu Ginobili, SG 22 MIN | 6-12 FG | 2-5 3FG | 2-2 FT | 5 REB | 3 AST | 0 STL | 1 BLK | 0 TO | 16 PTS | -3 +/-Might we see Manu Ginobili collect one more Sixth Man of the Year award for the road? Whether via scoring, pace, or playmaking, Ginobili continues to come in and change the dynamics of a game to the Spurs’ advantage in a way that his box score statistics don’t always give him credit for. Had a beautiful, vintage knifing drive he took directly at Porzingis for the lefty lay-in.

Gregg Popovich
Showed adequate disdain for defensive lapses, and absent any glaring errors, this defaults to A.

Three Things We Saw

  1. Kristaps Porzingis is a special player. Early on he gave LaMarcus Aldridge fits, pulling him away from the basket for three-pointers and disorienting the Spurs’ defense. The combination of small forward skills in a large, long frame is almost unprecedented. Only a lack of experience and strength are currently holding him back.
  2. If everyone attacked life with half the ambition of a Robin Lopez post-up attempt, the world would be a better place.
  3. There was some debate last night on whether the Knicks should have called a timeout to setup a final shot. The argument here is that it was the right move against the NBA’s best defense, and that an (by NBA standards) open corner three-pointer from a quality shooter is the best one might hope for. The Spurs were fortunate it didn’t fall after Ginobili helped from one pass away on a drive that Leonard had already all but swallowed up.
Jan 4, 2016; Milwaukee, WI, USA;  San Antonio Spurs center Boris Diaw (33) passes the ball around Milwaukee Bucks center Greg Monroe (15) in the fourth quarter at BMO Harris Bradley Center. Mandatory Credit: Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports

San Antonio Spurs 123, Milwaukee Bucks 98

Grades
San Antonio Spurs 123 Final

Recap | Box Score

98 Milwaukee Bucks
LaMarcus Aldridge, PF 30 MIN | 6-14 FG | 0-0 3FG | 4-5 FT | 11 REB | 1 AST | 0 STL | 1 BLK | 1 TO | 16 PTS | +11 +/- In lieu of being the go-to-feed-him-every-possession guy, Aldridge has proven adept at doing the dirty work. He worked the glass against Milwaukee’s length all game. Two of his three first quarter field goals were the product of offensive rebounds, including an explosive put-back dunk over the Greek Freak. He stayed engaged and got himself involved when the ball went elsewhere and that’s a great sign for the Spurs.

Kawhi Leonard, SF 31 MIN | 9-12 FG | 3-5 3FG | 3-3 FT | 2 REB | 1 AST | 2 STL | 1 BLK | 4 TO | 24 PTS | +17 +/- The Bucks tried to run away with the first quarter but he wouldn’t let them. He scored 11 of his 24 in the opening frame to keep things close. The shooting numbers are just getting obscene. 24 points on 12 shots? 75 percent from the floor, 60 percent from three and perfect from the free throw line? And it’s how he’s doing it. He’s taking hand-offs from Duncan down the baseline for a dunk and pulling up over Giannis for three. He swaggered his way into a would-be three at the end of the first quarter that would’ve tied the game at 30 if not for a toe on the line. Just nonchalantly walked into it. That’s where we are right now.

Tim Duncan, C 27 MIN | 7-12 FG | 0-0 3FG | 0-1 FT | 10 REB | 4 AST | 2 STL | 1 BLK | 1 TO | 14 PTS | +12 +/- In case anyone was worried about Duncan (really?) after his scoreless outing against the Rockets, don’t fret. He came right back with this ridiculous line against one of the youngest, most athletic teams in the league.

Patty Mills, PG 28 MIN | 3-7 FG | 3-5 3FG | 1-2 FT | 1 REB | 5 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 10 PTS | +20 +/-He was at an obvious disadvantage trying to guard the 6-foot-6 Michael Carter-Williams, but he held his own well enough. 10 pts, 5 ast, 3-5 3PT, and just one turnover in a rare appearance as starter is not a bad night at all.

Danny Green, SG 14 MIN | 1-6 FG | 1-5 3FG | 0-0 FT | 2 REB | 1 AST | 1 STL | 1 BLK | 1 TO | 3 PTS | -2 +/-Jonathon Simmons turning the second quarter into a dunk contest probably ate into Danny’s minutes, and that’s fine. Simmons’s driving ability was more effective against the Bucks tonight. Danny still made some plays defensively. More than missing shots, the disappointment after his breakout night in the previous game was that he clearly hesitated on a few shots, as he’s done too often during his slump this year. Hopefully it’s not a sign that he’s back to over-thinking. Then again, Milwaukee’s length might make anyone think twice. We’ll chalk it up to that for tonight.

David West, PF 15 MIN | 5-9 FG | 0-0 3FG | 0-0 FT | 1 REB | 3 AST | 1 STL | 1 BLK | 0 TO | 10 PTS | +5 +/-Just solid. It was fun to watch him and Boban Marjanovic work together for about five minutes in the fourth quarter. In a stretch that lasted a little over a minute, Marjanovic assisted on two consecutive West buckets before West returned the favor on a Marjanovic dunk.

Kyle Anderson, SF 9 MIN | 1-2 FG | 0-1 3FG | 0-0 FT | 2 REB | 2 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 2 PTS | 0 +/-Didn’t get much time tonight but showed off a little of his typical all-around game while he was in.

Boban Marjanovic, C 5 MIN | 1-2 FG | 0-0 3FG | 0-0 FT | 3 REB | 2 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 2 PTS | +3 +/-It’s already been established that the guy can play but it’s still eye-opening how skilled he is at that size, his vision and the way he surveys the floor.

Matt Bonner, C 3 MIN | 0-1 FG | 0-0 3FG | 0-0 FT | 0 REB | 0 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 0 PTS | +1 +/- Missed his only shot in three minutes but came up with the steal that kept Milwaukee from scoring 100. A for you, Red Mamba.

Boris Diaw, C 19 MIN | 6-8 FG | 0-1 3FG | 2-2 FT | 4 REB | 2 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 14 PTS | +19 +/- Boris has been in an aggressive stretch lately, and mostly to great effect. Tonight was no different as he worked the high-low and tested Milwaukee’s defense for vulnerabilities throughout. Stay a while, Aggressive Bobo.

Ray McCallum, PG 17 MIN | 1-2 FG | 0-1 3FG | 0-0 FT | 1 REB | 4 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 2 PTS | +6 +/-Popovich broke from his usual pattern in choosing to bring McCallum off the bench and start Mills, rather than leave the usual bench unit in tact. He often shared primary ball-handler duties with Ginobili and only took two shots, one of which (the lone three) he missed badly. But I thought he acquitted himself nicely, looking up the floor to advance the ball and helping the bigs secure the defensive rebound.

Jonathon Simmons, SG 20 MIN | 6-7 FG | 0-0 3FG | 6-7 FT | 3 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 18 PTS | +21 +/- The rookie can play. Jeff McDonald of SAEN noted that a group of Bucks fans chanted “WHO ARE YOU?” at Simmons during his first appearance. Simmons wasted no time providing an answer, sparking an instant 10-0 run and helping the Spurs to a 27-12 advantage in his 9:03 of play in the second quarter. He put a lot of pressure on the Bucks’ defense, relentlessly attacking the rim, and defended tenaciously as usual. He was absolutely robbed of a highlight block against Michael Carter-Williams by a poor call. His 18 points are a career high.

Manu Ginobili, SG 22 MIN | 3-8 FG | 2-2 3FG | 0-0 FT | 4 REB | 7 AST | 2 STL | 0 BLK | 2 TO | 8 PTS | +12 +/- Manu was everywhere. Hitting threes, stealing the ball, setting the table for others, selling out to tap a loose ball ahead to Kawhi on the break. Great Manu game. Fun fact: he somehow shot a perfect 2-of-2 from three while throwing a pump-fake before both of them. Tough.

Gregg Popovich
Is this thing pre-coded to give Pop an A+? I swear I didn’t touch it but who am I to change it? In all seriousness, I like that he went to and rolled with Simmons early.