The Rodeo Road Trip has begun. San Antonio, winning nine of the last 11 games, will take their next nine on the road.
Perhaps equally as important, although he will never admit to its value, coach Gregg Popovich was competing tonight for his 1,000th career victory.
Feb 8, 2015; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Toronto Raptors forwardTerrence Ross
(31) drives to the net against San Antonio Spurs guard Patty Mills (8) at the Air Canada Centre. Toronto defeated San Antonio 87-82. Mandatory Credit: John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports
This was a poor game for Tony Parker, which wasn’t to be expected. Parker had averaged 24 points per game in his last five games against the Raptors. 10 points were all that the point guard could muster.
The criticality of the game cannot be overstated. The Rodeo Road Trip is typically the time of the season that the team gels, and they turn the corner on their Western Conference counterparts. This has been an up-and-down season to say the least. And while San Antonio is still on pace for another 50 win season, their inconsistency within these games is unsettling for a squad with back-to-back title aspirations.
Before the Spurs game, the Houston Rockets announced that Dwight Howard is to miss six-to-eight weeks with a knee injury. This is the time to make a push up the Western Conference standings as Houston becomes a one-act show, albeit with an impressive actor in James Harden. That stated, San Antonio has Houston in their sights.
So it is surprising to see such a bad game unfold for the Spurs. This was another one in which San Antonio’s Big-Three only put up 32 points. In 24 minutes, Danny Green managed only six points – although he finished with seven rebounds.
The shooting for the Spurs was awful. 33% from the field, and only 25% from three-point land.
Granted, it was against one of the Eastern Conference’s best. Toronto is first in the Atlantic Division.
A positive for San Antonio was on the defensive end. The Spurs shut down the hot Raptor-offense, limiting them to 87 points. They had averaged 106.2 per game on the season.
Tim Duncan continues to impress. In addition to his 12 points, the Hall of Famer grabbed 12 rebounds, added five assists, two steals, and two blocks.
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But searching for positives in a loss is a reward-less task. The Spurs of old didn’t need “at-a-boys”. Losing like this (on a poorly timed turnover by Duncan) should be unacceptable. They should have taken Toronto apart. However, this season, this type of play is par for the course.
Memphis is crushing teams. The Thunder just ran away from the failing Clippers. Portland managed to gut out a win over those Houston Rockets. And the Spurs, well, the Spurs can’t separate from Dallas. They can’t show that they can routinely beat a team from the East.
If the Playoffs started today, Kawhi Leonard’s team would go up against the Grizzlies. How do you think that would go?
Coach Pop will have to continue to wait for win number 1,000.