But Friday night, it was old school offense, and a great game plan, that won the follow up contest against Houston. Tim Duncan led San Antonio with 29 points, 10 rebounds, and three blocks- including the last second block of Harden to win the game.
In the previous game Harden was the focus of the Spurs defense, which one would assume will be the theme should they meet in the playoffs. As previously mentioned, San Antonio put several players on him, keeping their energy up, and his energy down. In this, the final game of the season series, the Spurs had a different ploy; Keep the ball away from James Harden. Popovich dusted off the hack-a-player defense and send Josh Smith to the line 29 times, giving up 12 points.
It worked. Harden was leading the NBA in scoring at 27.6 points per game. In this one, he logged 38 minutes of work and only netted 16 points.
Houston has two stars, right? Dwight Howard was physically present, but was wholly ineffective against the San Antonio front court. Starting center Aron Baynes neutralized Howard, and Boris Diaw’s minutes, and 10 points, were icing on the cake.
That being said, three of San Antonio’s stars failed to make a dent in this game. Tony Parker scored two points on one-of-seven shooting. Danny Green was worse. He and I scored the same amount of points in this game. Zero. Off the bench, Manu Ginobili scored six points in 21 minutes.
The win propelled the Spurs to the third seed in the Western Conference and a 54-26 record. They are now only a half-game behind the Southwest Division leading Memphis Grizzlies.
San Antonio has Phoenix on Sunday night, and followed by the New Orleans Pelicans and Anthony Davis on April 15th to close the season.
The Grizzlies have two big road games remaining: the LA Clippers and the Golden State Warriors. Followed by the Indiana Pacers on April 15th to end the year.