Manu Ginobili Fuels Spurs’ Engine in Victory over Hornets

Game Recaps

manu ginobiliIn 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.

Spurs win over the Timberwolves just one of those Daye(s)

Game Recaps

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.

Spurs Wars Episode IV: A New “NOPE”

Game Recaps

In “Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope,” the entirety of the Rebel Alliance’s attack plan on the Death Star relies on the exploitation of on flaw in the design: a small opening about two meters wide.

Hosting Star Wars night in the AT&T Center against the Detroit Pistons it was the San Antonio Spurs playing the role of the empire, firing away from the free throw line with the accuracy of a Storm Trooper, missing six in the fourth quarter.

With an opportunity to put the Pistons away, Tim Duncan reentered the game to inbound the ball, an errant pass sealing the Spurs fate as Brandon Jennings (13 points, seven assists) picked up the loose ball and ran the length of the court in less than seven parsecs (or, you know, seconds). The 104-105 loss by the San Antonio Spurs continues a search for any semblance of rhythm in a very disjointed season.

“Of all the losses [this season] it seems that there are a lot of minor mistakes here and there. We’re not where we need to be or want to be,” Spurs guard Danny Green said. “We’re not able to close the way we have in the past and that’s uncharacteristic of this team.”

Greater fortunes seemed in store for the Spurs as they jumped out of the gate with a commanding 37-20 lead in the first quarter. Tony Parker made his long awaited return to the starting lineup and the Spurs responded with good ball movement and spacing, which got Tim Duncan going early, scoring nine of his 15 points in the first quarter.

Spurs Coach Gregg Popovich continued to utilize his hockey-line (5-for-5) substitution patterns, prompting the best game from Jeff Ayres this season (16 points, four rebounds) and another solid game from Boris Diaw (10 points on five shots).

The second half proved less fruitful for the struggling Spurs. Duncan played only a little more than seven minutes in the second half while Parker (three points and two assists in roughly 13 minutes) did not return to the court after halftime.

“He wanted to play, but I’m being conservative,” Popovich said. “He had 13 minutes. That’s good after sitting out as long as he did; make sure he doesn’t reinjure the thing.”

While the Spurs are waiting to add players returning from injury to make them whole, the Pistons have benefited from addition by subtraction. Since jettisoning Josh Smith the Pistons are now 6-0, led by their foreboding front line of Greg Monroe (17 points, 11 rebounds) and Andre Drummond (20 points, 17 rebounds) as well as Jennings, their resurgent point guard.

Overpowering the Spurs, the Pistons used a 33-19 third quarter to overtake San Antonio. A flurry of fourth quarter three-pointers from the Spurs helped retake the lead, but five turnovers and missed free throws down the stretch provided the flaw in the design the upstart Pistons were able to exploit.

In the end, Pistons coach Stan Van Gundy didn’t need an elaborate defense or Death Star. With a one point lead and a fraction of a second remaining, Spurs fans hoping for a sequel of the New Year’s Eve victory over the New Orleans Hornets were disappointed by Van Gundy’s brilliant strategy.

“Build a fucking wall,” Van Gundy shouted in his team’s huddle, a rallying cry that will reverberate in even galaxies far, far away. Out of the timeout the Spurs got a one-in-a-million attempts on a Manu Ginobili tip “shot.” But for those looking for a victory, these were not the Pistons you were looking for.

Corporate Knowledge: A last look at December

Corporate Knowledge

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:

With the celebration over, the San Antonio Spurs go back to work

Game Recaps

Granted a few more moments to savor their 2014 NBA Championship, San Antonio spurs coach Gregg Popovich permitted himself a fist pump, Tim Duncan slid his diamond encrusted ring over his pinky—having now won enough to necessitate a sizing for each finger—and even Kawhi Leonard let loose a smile.

The Spurs sent the summer celebrating what Duncan called his most fulfilling championship, allowing for rare media appearances as the Larry O’Brien trophy ventured on a world tour and teammates took extended vacations across the globe.

And just like that it was over. With the banner unveiled and the rings put away for safekeeping, the Spurs got back to business with an at-times messy 101-100 victory over the Dallas Mavericks.

San Antonio Spurs 110, Miami Heat 95: Revenge is a dish best served hot

NBA Finals

Inside a sweltering AT&T Center, an exhausted LeBron James looked on from the bench, powerless to help his teammates stem a 21-7 run the San Antonio Spurs closed the game with to take a 110-95 Game victory.

James remains the most remarkable athlete in the NBA, if not the entire world; an unparalleled combination of size, strength, speed, and explosiveness. But like the Achilles of Greek mythology, the basketball gods that blessed James with such an impressive physique also built in one weakness, which he often wears emblazoned across his chest: Heat.