Alright everyone, to keep with what we’ve been doing for the past couple of games, we’re going to award some grades to the Spurs players for their efforts (or lack-thereof) in Tuesday’s game against the Minnesota Timberwolves. If you are currently living under a rock, or had something more important to do than watch Tuesday’s, the best way to put it was “a snoozer.” After a good first quarter, the Spurs seemed to switch sot-making abilities with Minnesota as the Timberwolves ran away with the game and ever looked back.
For Minnesota, Ricky Rubio was the star pupil, earning his first career triple-double with 21 points, 13 assists, and 12 rebounds. Alexy Shved was also on for most of the game, getting 16 points and 7 assists. Keeping with the theme of Minnesota guards doing well, J.J. Barea played out of his mind, dropping 17 points (5-7 from 3!!!!), 5 assists, and 5 boards. Barea and Rubio got everyone going in the second quarter by beating their man and forcing the Spurs into rotation drills all night long as they found the open man for a good shot (Which the Wolves were actually able to hit). With that, let’s get into the Spurs grades.
PG Cory Joseph | 15 points, 5-9 shooting, 3 assists, 2 rebounds
Joseph was the high point man for the Spurs with 15 points, even though more than half came late in the game when it was already decided. But, when he did score it was usually by getting into the paint, and he had a couple of nice finishes when he had t angle his body (in a very Tony Parker like fashion) and get a bucket over the bigger defender. Defensively, he continued to get caught on screens and look a little lost, but that is to be expected with a young player in a complex defensive system. Nonetheless, that still affect his grade.
SG Danny Green | 10 points, 4-10 shooting, 4 rebounds, 2 assists, 2-6 on 3PT
Danny Green stated out hot, just like he ended his last game at the Target Center in Minnesota. Unfortunately, he fizzled after his 8 point first quarter. He only made one more shot on the night, and was one of the many Spurs that struggled from the field for most of the night.
SF Stephen Jackson | 14 points, 5-10 shooting, 5 rebounds, 3-5 on 3PT
Jackson was another bright spot in the first quarter that couldn’t keep it up as the game went on. In the first period, Jackson had 10 points on 4-6 shooting including 2 threes. In the second quarter he had just 1 three, and for the rest of the game he had just three more attempts. And, of those three attempts, they all had a very nonchalant feel to them since it seemed the game was already over.
PF Matt Bonner | 2 points, 1-4 shooting, 6 rebounds
The Red Mamba had no venom for the Timberwolves, and really just didn’t produce much of anything. He was chased off of the three point line for most of the night, which lead to him either taking a bad runner or passing off to keep the play going. Because he’s so one-dimensional as a player, and because Minnesota was keeping him from getting threes off for most of the game, he had to be sat down to put in a more versatile player.
C: Tiaago Splitter | 4 points, 1-10 shooting, 11 rebounds, 3 assists
A shell of what he was against Oklahoma City on Monday, Splitter had a truly bad game. He looked awkward whenever he posted up, and missed a lot of shots at the rim. A couple of times early, he was able to show off his underrated passing by hitting Ginobili on a pretty backdoor cut for a layup, but that was about all of his positive impact. Defensively he was unable to corral any pick-and-roll the Timberwolves ran, and couldn’t keep the paint closed down. Hopefully Tiago can just hit ctrl+alt+del on this game and move onto the next one.
Bench | 38 points, 13-39 shooting (UGH), 11 rebounds, 11 assists
As you might expect, the bench played the same way the starters did: Horribly. No help whatsoever came from the bench, and when they play equal amounts as starters, that’s going to hurt. There isn’t much else to add here, except I’d like to take this time to talk about Manu Ginobili for a second. Manu hasn’t had a very good past 3 games. In those past three games, he has averaged 33% from the field when he’s been needed to carry a lot of the load, and such performances have caused a little bit of panic from Spurs fans as we prepare for the last stretch before the playoffs. But, if you were to look at the stats and film for the 3 games previous to these, you would see that he averaged 58% from the field, 54% from 3, and been the catalyst for the Spurs without Parker getting 9 assists per game. What you can draw from both these sets of numbers is that while he may not be the Manu he once was, he still shows flashes of being the go-to guy. And really, even though he’s gotten older his game hasn’t declined so far that he can’t still be productive on this team. What he can’t do is be the first option on offense anymore, but that’s fine, he hasn’t been that for the past two years. He needs others to help him out, and tonight he didn’t really have that. The Spurs 3 other bets players were out, leaving Manu out to dry. But once the Spurs get healthy, he will be able to produce very well in his role of 6th man.
Overall, even though there were a lot of bad performances in this game, there’s no real reason to get upset or hit the “panic” button. Parker, Duncan, and Leonard were out; which left the Spurs without their most important pieces on both offense (Parker) and defense (Duncan, Leonard as a playmaker). The Spurs shot 35.4% from the floor, which is a figure so bad that not even the worst teams in the league hit that low consistently. And, Minnesota shot 60% from three point land, when regularly they are one of the worst shooting teams in the nation. More than anything, Tuesday’s game was a statistical anomaly that can largely just be written off. These types of games happen. And while there are a few things from this game that could represent a real issue moving forward (Like, say, defense without Tim Duncan on the floor), Spurs fans will be better served by knowing that there’s a game against a struggling Dallas Mavericks team that an angry Spurs team would love to come out and absolutely destroy. The lesson for today is to move on, and forget about a game that is out of the ordinary for this team. I hope you’ve all paid attention, because there will be a quiz on these notes in the next class.