In their first game without Tony Parker due to an ankle injury, the San Antonio Spurs put on an absolute clinic Sunday versus the Detroit Pistons.
Once Manu Ginobili entered the game in the first quarter, he sparked a run that had the Spurs leading 32-19 at the end of it. That lead only came to grow bigger as the Spurs won 114-75.
Ginobili finished with 17 points on the night on 6-8 shooting, including 3-4 from 3. He also had 3 steals, and 3 assists. The most impressive part of Ginobili’s night is that it all came in the first half, as he was the key to the Spurs gaining the big lead in the first place.
Tim Duncan was on his game as well, scoring 16 points on 7-14 shooting as well as getting 11 rebounds, 6 assists, and 5 blocks. At halftime, it looked like Duncan could have easily gotten a triple double if he played significant minutes in the second half. Danny Green also had 16 points, going 6-12 from the field and 3-6 from three.
Cory Joseph, who started for the injured Tony Parker, looked very good in his first start this year, and one of the first games he got a large amount of minutes. Joseph finished with 8 points, hitting 3-5 shots from the floor in 18 minutes. Joseph also had 4 assists and 2 steals. When asked about Joseph after the game, Coach Gregg Popovich had this to say about his performance:
“I thought he did a fine job. He played a good floor game, I like his defense, I like his aggressive attitude…” (h/t to @Matthew_Tynan)
For the Pistons, the only real bright spots were Greg Monroe and Jose Calderon. Monroe had 16 points on 6-13 shooting, 8 rebounds, and 4 assists. Calderon had 14 points on 6-10 shooting, with 2-3 from beyond the arc.
The Spurs next game is Wednesday, March 6, against the Chicago Bulls at 9:00 ET, and can be seen on ESPN.
- Anyone who watched this game was treated to a very special half of basketball from Manu Ginobili. In the first half he had 17 points on a perfect 6-6 shooting, with 3 three-pointers. He scored on a series of beautiful drives to the basket, using the unorthodox footwork Spurs fans have come to know him for. On one play in particular he started at the top of the key, got past the first defender and then unleashed one of the most furious eurosteps I’ve ever seen from him, leading to a score. He also took on the role of distributor a few times in the game. We saw him do everything from play pick-and-roll with DeJuan Blair (watching those two run pick-and-roll offense is one of the most beautiful things one can watch in the NBA today, they work so well together) to manipulating the defense then skipping the ball over to Danny Green for a wide-open three. On maybe the most beautiful plays of the game, Ginobili was bringing the ball up quickly in transition, and right before he got to midcourt he fired in a pass to a streaking Kawhi Leonard for a dunk. Vintage Manu Ginobili was on display Sunday, and in a season where he hasn’t been healthy enough to play like this consistently, it was a great reminder of what he’s capable of. In Parker’s absence, Spurs fans can only hope for more of this kind of play from El Contusion.
- As I said earlier, Cory Joseph looked impressive in only his second ever NBA start. When it was announced that he would start in Parker’s place ahead of Nando De Colo, it seemed as if Coach Pop was just experimenting because the Spurs were playing the lowly Pistons. Whether he was or not doesn’t matter now, as Joseph erased a lot of questions about how he would play in big minutes. It’s a small sample size, but his play was encouraging. After getting caught on screens early in the game, he stayed aggressive and began to find his way. He made plays defensively, and hustled hard to loose balls. On offense, he had a couple of Tony Parker-esque finishes over bigger defenders in the paint. On another play, he hit a corner three, which will prove to be an extremely useful asset if that becomes consistent. Again, he has only played a decent amount of minutes in the past 2 games this seasons, but the signs of him being a capable placeholder for Parker over the next month or so are there.
- Kawhi Leonard was very, very aggressive early, evoking recent memories of his game against the Chicago Bulls when he scored 26 points. Leonard had 16 tonight, with a lot of his points coming deep into the paint in transition or off penetration. He has continued to look more and more comfortable handling the ball as the season goes on, and has exhibited a lot of different moves when dribbling recently. But only in the Chicago game had I seen him go as hard to the basket as he did tonight, which was a joy to watch. He no longer looks like a baby giraffe learning to walk with the ball, and is a legitimate threat, which is even more of a nice addition to the Spurs arsenal now that Parker is out for a while.
- This was one of the best full games I’ve seen from the Spurs all year long. They looked sharp on both offense and defense all night, and it wasn’t just because they were playing the Pistons. Offensively, the passing was there as they assisted each other on 35 of the 45 shots they made, and created an extremely quick tempo for most of the night. Defensively, they made quick, sharp rotations and forced a ton of hard shots on the night. Even when the Pistons got in the paint, Tim Duncan was there to protect the basket, getting 5 blocks and altering many more shots as the Pistons shot only .326 from the field on the night. This was a great game to watch from start to finish if you’re a Spurs fan. Everyone played well, and the team showed it’s potential quality of play when firing on all cylinders.