[Bdiddy -- "Here's another post by our new wunderkind Vinay, he's going to do nothing but make Mike and me look bad."]
Most nights, beating a 9-28 team 94 to 91 on your home floor isn’t the mark of a championship team. And while Minnesota isn’t your average 9-28 team in terms of talent, this one still feels more like we lost. My money is that Pop is probably angrier about this one than he was about the Boston game…
We were very sloppy tonight; turnovers, poor offensive execution, and stagnation occasionally from the Fighting Ginobilis. We should have beat Minnesota by 20, but every time we started to run away, we’d throw a pass to Rambis on the bench, or have one guy hold the ball for 20 seconds before taking a contested jumper. We were nowhere near as aggressive near the end; it’s almost like we were playing to lose instead. Bill Simmons has a term for it… backing into the win. That’s what we did at the A&T Center on this (not so) fateful night, we backed into the win.
Defensively, I thought that it was a solid if unspectacular performance. The rotations on the three ball were a tad slow but the T-Wolves missed a couple so the percentages (7-20 = 35%) don’t look too bad. We also held them to just 12 free throws, mainly because… We did a good job of forcing them into those long-ish 15-22 foot jump shots, just like we did against Boston (except Wesley Johnson/Corey Brewer/Martell Webster was shooting them instead of Paul Pierce + Ray Allen). Down low, our defense was rock solid as usual with Timmy pressuring Darko into 5-16 shooting (though the Flying Serb did out rebound Kevin Love on the offensive end 6-5). We saw more of McDyess as well (though oddly no Splitter) to deal with Minnesota’s front line. The one real trouble spot yet again, was at point guard. This is the 4th straight game where an opposing point has shown up Parker and the Spurs: Ridnour scored 16 points, with 7 assists, and pretty much got where he wanted to on offense. The on-ball pressure on ball-handlers is going to have to improve.
Offensively, the only number that matters to me is 16 turnovers. 16 turnovers on the night led to 20 points for the T-Wolves. Our offensive execution needs to be much crisper. Offensively, your star of the night was again Manu, though Timmy carried them through that 3rd quarter (with all of his 8 points), and Neal did the same in the 4th. We saw Manu’s usual repertoire of fall-away jumpers, acrobatic finishes, and quick strike threes; but not much in terms of volume. He did a good job of getting to the line though, and finished with 21 on the night. Parker, a nonfactor for almost the entire second half (he sat out the entire 4th quarter!), had 11. It was pretty balanced scoring across the board, with 6 in double figures (Bonner, Hill, Jefferson, Neal, Parker, and Ginobili), and Duncan’s 8 pts and team leading 5 assists. McDyess and Timmy both did their damage in the second half, (McDyess had 6) and Duncan could have had 10 assists if people hit their open jump-shots. On a related note, how cool was it to see both Duncan and McDyess get up and dunk over people tonight!? Old dudes still got it.
Spur of the Night: Manu was the leading scorer, but I’m going to go with Matt Bonner/Antonio McDyess here for their solid defense on Love (18 points and 17 boards but just 5 offensive boards) and combined 17 boards. Both of them were offensive boosts (Bonner in the 1st half and McDyess in the 2nd) and scored very efficiently as well. Also, only 1 turnover between the pair of them.