Apr 12, 2013; San Antonio, TX, USA; San Antonio Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich talks to Tim Duncan (21) during the second half against the Sacramento Kings at the AT
In the next to last home game of the season, the Sacramento Kings admittedly playing out the string, came to town looking to finish on a high note and continue the San Antonio Spurs’s problems. On a day that could only be described as tumultuous. It found the Spurs announcing that Boris Diaw would be unavailable for 4 weeks due to having a cyst removed from near his spine, and the shocking announcement that forward Stephen Jackson had been released from the team.
The news flew quickly through the basketball world and was met with equal shock and awe, as the Spurs have now only 14 roster players and no backup for Kawhi Leonard. However as coach Pop is fond of saying, “It’s life, you move on”. Tony Parker‘s return was made almost a side note, however this game he made it a headline as he had 22 points and 10 assists. Tim Duncan had, for him, a slow night with 6 rebounds, however he had 18 points and 5 blocks.
The night started well as the Spurs raced out to a double digit lead pretty quickly and at the end of 1 the Spurs lead 23-13 after 1. The second quarter found the Spurs defense which was good in the first quarter, disappear as they allowed the Kings, yes the Sacramento Kings, to score 37 points in the quarter. Thankfully the Spurs offense was working well and they scored 37 as well. The second half started ominously as the Kings opened the half with a 15 to 6 run and as the Spurs walked to the bench for a timeout, they found themselves only ahead by 1.
Apr 12, 2013; San Antonio, TX, USA; San Antonio Spurs forward Kawhi Leonard (2) shoots during the first half against the Sacramento Kings at the AT
The Spurs managed to work things out and got the lead back up to 10 to end the quarter. The 4th quarter was even kinder as the Spurs stretched things out to as much as a 16 point lead, and fans were starting to relax and feel that things were back to normal in Spur world. However the Kings would chip away chip away and cut it to 8 as soon as coach Pop looked to empty the bench. The Spurs however more than held on and won the contest 108-101.
Turning point: In the third quarter with the game at 66-65,the Spurs were on their heels a bit,but however, came back gave a run of their own and took the game over and never lead by less than 8 points the rest of the way.
Whos hot: Tony Parker was definitely en fuego last night hitting 9-13 for 22 points. What’s even more amazing about his evening? He didn’t even attempt a FG until the second quarter, where he scored 13 of the final 15 Spurs points to end the quarter. The Spurs also scored 100 points for the first time since March 29th. No coincidence that this happens the night that Parker returns.
Whos not: Tyreke Evans. Evans was brutal all game long. Evans was guarded well by Green and at times Kawhi Leonard, however, he almost seemed to guard himself with some of the shot attempts he showed on the evening. Including in the second half when he tossed up a complete airball prompting the question, what happened to the rookie of the year?
Up Next: Were at the final stretch of games as the Spurs travel to Los Angeles to play the now Kobe-less Los Angeles Lakers, then Monday night to Oakland to take on the Golden State Warriors, then back home on Wednesday to close the regular season against Ricky Rubio and the Minnesota Timberwolves.
PG Tony Parker 22 points 9/13 shooting 10 assists 3 rebounds
Parker returned to the Spurs lineup and looked fresh and rested. Not quite having that 100% burst around the pick and roll yet, however, Parker’s touch was quite there as he had a fantastic shooting night. However, better than his shooting was his passing, as Parker found open shooter after open shooter on the perimeter with Kawhi Leonard, Danny Green, Gary Neal and others being the recipients of his passes. As coach Popovich put it, “He would’ve had 1,000 assists if anyone could make a shot”.
Danny Green 12 points 4 of 6 shooting 5 rebounds 3 assists
Green has struggled lately to put it nicely. Not only offensively but defensively has Green struggled, however on this night Green was solid on both ends. Green was ready for the shots and was more than happy as a clam to see Tony Parker back. On the defensive end he harassed and forced Isaiah Thomas and Tyreke Evans into the defense to force bad shots or turnovers. Green is hopefully going into the hot stage of his icy hot play, cause without Stephen Jackson, the Spurs are going to need all the perimeter defense and outside shooting they can get.
Kawhi Leonard 15 points 7 of 14 shooting 7 rebounds 1 assist, 2 blocks
It was a strange night for Kawhi as his 3 point shot noticeably struggled. However his drives cuts and post ups were solid as always. Defensively he was solid but not great, as he was beat a few times and missed assignments, however would recover with a good challenge or in one case, a blocked shot.
Tim Duncan 18 points 7 of 18 shooting 6 rebounds 2 assists 5 blocks
Duncan had what I would call a coaster of a night. At times he seemed to just float along and coast, others he would get engaged and play well. His outside shot was off, but not very much, some shots practically going all the way down and somehow coming out. On defense he let Jason Thompson and Demarcus Cousins score a little too frequently, however defended the rim against penetration at times decently. His rebounding, to put it nicely, was average. Timmy however gets a pass as he’s had the team on his back lately for a while.
Tiago Splitter 12 points 4 of 7 shooting 12 rebounds, 6 assists, 3 blocks 2 steals
While the box score shows a huge night, It was a very up and down night for Tiago, as in the first half his offensive move was pretty much the lazy half hook that rolls off the rim for misses more often than not. He had a half hearted layup thrown back in his face, before finally going up stronger for dunks and drawing a foul or two here and there. His defense was mediocre at best allowing his man to get by him whether it be Thompson, Cousins, or Patrick Patterson. Tiago however rebounded having a solid 4th quarter in leading the reserves to a 16 point lead. The numbers look nice, but they could be so much better with a little more aggression from the Brazilian.
Bench 29 points 11 of 19 shooting 8 rebounds, 6 assists, 3 steals, 2 blocks
Well how about that, the bench wasn’t half bad. Granted, its against the vacation mode Sacramento Kings but still, progress! Dejuan Blair was the first big man off the bench with the news Boris Diaw won’t be back for a while and produced a very solid game, with decent defense, solid rebounding, and mixed in a good pass or two, especially the bounce to Duncan for a nice jam. Matt Bonner’s shooting stroke woke up however his pathetic rebounding continued. Nando De Colo struggled, playing OK defense, but offensively just held onto the ball too much at times wanting to dribble around and would stagnate the offense. Gary Neal’s shooting touch seemed to come back a little bit as he instead of threes, seemed to take a step inside the ark and dropped some two point baskets. Corey Joseph and Aron Baynes played a nondescript 25 seconds