The Spurs are coming off a big win against the Sacramento Kings- yes, it was a big win. The victory stopped the bleeding from a four-game losing streak, the second this year. If only for a single game, it looked like San Antonio fixed their defensive problems, allowing the Kings only 96 points in the game.
Feb 28, 2015; Phoenix, AZ, USA; San Antonio Spurs guardTony Parker
(9) dribbles against the Phoenix Suns during the second half at US Airways Center. The Spurs won 101-74. Mandatory Credit: Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports
Stepping onto the court in Phoenix, the Spurs couldn’t possibly be feeling great about their positioning in the West, nor the Rodeo Road Trip. They entered the night 3-5 on the trip, ensured of a losing road swing. They appear to be perpetually locked into the seventh position in the Conference. But on Saturday night, the thin ray of hope shined directly onto the Spurs at center court for the tipoff.
The hard charging Oklahoma City Thunder would announce that Russell Westbrook will be out of action for an undetermined length due to facial surgery. Dallas would be up against the wall against Mason Plumlee and the Brooklyn Nets- eventually losing that game, and both the Clippers and Rockets would be facing solid Eastern Conference teams on Sunday- the Bulls and Cavaliers respectively.
So, as the opportunity to improve their positioning in the West primed itself, the Spurs looked around the arena to see a gutted Suns team whose best player could be the new acquisition, Brandon Knight.
San Antonio needed to dominate. To prove to themselves, as much as the fan base, that they can and will win games that they should be winning- and do so as a matter of course.
The Spurs road win over the Suns was a critical milestone in their climb back in the standings and positioning for the playoffs.
Make no mistake, that locker room has got to be wondering if they have it this season. That is what success does. Before last night they were below .500 on the road, this following a season in which they were the NBA’s best road team. The win against the Kings had an importance that Spurs fans don’t usually hold out for California-teams not called the Lakers.
San Antonio held the Suns to a horrendous first half shooting- in which they lost Knight to a hip pointer. It is hard to believe that an NBA team could score only 24 points in a half, but that is what the Spurs held Phoenix to on Saturday.
The Suns didn’t even get out of the teens in three quarters of play, scoring 13, 11, and 17. They needed a huge fourth quarter, all of which was considered garbage-time for the Spurs, to avoid their worst offensive game in franchise history.
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Coach Gregg Popovich got a unique opportunity in this game. He actually rested his Big Three. Tim Duncan was limited to 21 minutes, Manu Ginobili to 19, and Tony Parker played only 23. Their offensive input was nothing to write about either. And that is impressive. The Spurs were able to get in the paint, scoring 50 down low, and score with Aron Baynes and Boris Diaw– each with 12 points.
Danny Green had a great rebounding night, adding eight to the 56 total.
With this dominating performance San Antonio is now 16-16 on the road. A critical milestone in their climb back in the standings and positioning for the playoffs. They get a few days off before taking on those Kings again in a must-win game this Wednesday.