Two things had to happen in this game: 1) The San Antonio Spurs needed to turn on the offense and get over 105 points; 2) They needed to play stronger on the defensive end and hold the Kings to under 100. During this four-game skid San Antonio was giving up 107.5 points per game- a far cry from their norm, and not good enough to get them anywhere in the Playoffs. Maybe not even into the Playoffs.
Good thing they did both. In the win, San Antonio put up 107, and held the Cousins-less Kings to 96. A win in convincing fashion.
Feb 27, 2015; Sacramento, CA, USA; San Antonio Spurs guard Manu Ginobili (20) scores in front of Sacramento Kings guard Ray McCallum (3) in the second half of their NBA basketball game at Sleep Train Arena. Mandatory Credit: Lance Iversen-USA TODAY Sports. Spurs won 107-96
So, during this year’s Rodeo Road Trip, San Antonio’s record has been dismal- now 3-5, with one game remaining. But the point of the trip is to congeal as a group. Come together for a push to the end of the season. In seasons past, the Spurs have been able to dominate teams at this time of the year, and accomplish the aforementioned goal of team unity. These aren’t those Spurs, and perhaps that is going to be ok.
Tony Parker has been my target, as well as other writers, as the reason for the Spurs’ lackluster season and pathetic February. His stats this year have been the worst across the board since he was a young player. He has not attacked the lane this season with the reckless abandon that made him an All Star, and San Antonio a four-time NBA Champion. He has been timid, he has been a jump shooter, and he has been disappointing.
Last night, he broke out of it, for at least one game. He and Coach Popovich had a “great talk” the previous day that seems to have him back on track. I’m finding it very odd that a four-time Champion, All Star, and Finals MVP (2007) needs additional prodding from Popovich. The notion that Parker appears to be reactive to external motivation bugs the hell out of me. All that aside, he was awesome against the Kings with 19 points and four assists.
“I know [Parker] has been really hard on himself over these last couple games and really struggling, and hopefully that builds the confidence he needs.” – Tim Duncan
Tim Duncan even spoke up for his little buddy following the game. “That was huge for us. That was huge for him. I know he’s been really hard on himself over these last couple games and really struggling, and hopefully that builds the confidence he needs and that we need him to have.”
The five turnovers committed by San Antonio were far below their season average of 14.3.
Defensively, the San Antonio backcourt is going to have to improve. How crazy is that statement? But true. Sacramento didn’t have Darren Collison last night at point guard, and instead relied on Ray McCallum. McCallum outmatched Parker, going for 20.His running mates Rudy Gay and Ben McLemore added 16 and 21 respectively.
If the Spurs are going anywhere in the post season, this has to get better. The Kings’ backcourt is not even close to the best the Spurs will see in the West.
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Any win is a good win. A road win is even better. Make no mistake, San Antonio needed this one. Actually, they need every road win the rest of the way. They had 30 road wins last year. The 2014-2015 Spurs are 15-16 away from the AT&T Center. If the Playoffs started today, they would start out on the road, and play away from San Antonio most of the way.
On a side note, as I was writing this review I learned of the death of Anthony Mason. Growing up in the Houston area in the 1990’s I both loved and hated Anthony Mason and his New York Knicks. They met the Houston Rockets in an epic- maybe greatest ever?- seven-game NBA Finals series. He was a bruiser during his time in the NBA. An intimidator. He paved the way for players like former Spurs DeJuan Blair, and Malik Rose. He was respected around the Association for his workmanlike approach to the game. I am saddened by the news and wish his family the best.