On an usually cool night in San Antonio, two teams heading in different directions met up as the Orlando Magic came to visit the San Antonio Spurs. The Spurs were coming off two heartbreaking losses in a row and were looking to turn things around against the lottery bound Magic club. The Spurs would be shorthanded again. They would be without the services of Kawhi Leonard, Manu Ginobili, Tony Parker, and a last minute scratch due to illness in Dejuan Blair.
Tim Duncan was back in the lineup, and Nando De Colo replaced the injured Parker. The game was not an aesthetically pleasing one as both teams fought bad shooting along with poor ball control. The Spurs couldn’t separate themselves from Orlando as their largest lead of ten in the first quarter shrank to as low as one and only got to as high as 8 through the next two quarters. In the 4th quarter Coach Popovich inserted Aron Baynes into the lineup and he immediately paid dividends with his energy, and his tenacity in keeping the ball alive.
The top all around performance came from Danny Green who had 20 points on 7 of 10 shooting 3 rebounds and 3 assists. From the start to the end Danny played good defense, got his hands in the passing lane causing steals and deflections, and not only was his outside shot on, but even his game inside the three point line worked. The game worked to perfection as the Spurs bench held off the Magic allowing Tim Duncan and Tiago Splitter to play hardly any minutes at all. The Magic were led by rookie Moe Harkless with 18 points, and underrated Nikola Vucevic added 16 points and 14 rebounds. Seeming to snap out of his shooting slump, Gary Neal shot 6 of 14 for a solid 16 points but had an eye opening 8 rebounds, many times mixing it up with the much bigger Vucevic.
The stars of the night were the Spurs bench, and not only did they win a game, they allowed the Spurs to set things up for the big show down tonight in Oklahoma City against the vaunted Thunder.
Nando De Colo was thrust into the starting lineup and played a very solid game, after coach Popovich had declared the back up point guard job his. His play the last few games put him head and shoulders above everyone else, and to add to that his solid defense at his position. De Colo on the night had a pretty complete stat line with 8 points 7 rebounds and 6 assists. The one aspect of his game that he has improved is his offensive aggression, shooting when open and shooting without worry.
Its a night that Stephen Jackson wishes he had never had. Not only was his shot off with 1/9, but he had trouble holding onto the ball with 3 turnovers. along with getting his dunk blocked at the rim by Vucevic. To add to the insult of the bad night, coming down for a rebound his foot was stepped on rolling his ankle. He went down immediately and after a timeout was called, he came back out and played. He started the second half but asked to come out and eventually went to the locker room where he tweeted out a photo of an ice bag around his ankle. He will not make the trip to Oklahoma City and will have an MRI Thursday. Spurs nation along with the Spurs have their fingers crossed it comes back negative.
While Jackson was bad,Boris Diaw wins goat of the night with a really really tough night shooting 2 of 7 and 3 turnovers. None of his misses were close, he was never in sync with his teammates, and on defense, the janitor mopping the floors of the AT&T Center could’ve put up a better fight. It was a night I, and the Spurs would like to forget for 33. Heres hoping that he makes up for it against the Thunder. His role as bench big is a semi large one, especially with no Manu Ginobili.