The San Antonio Spurs kick started last week with a 119-98 win that followed a familiar pattern this season.
The Spurs found themselves trailing at halftime, then had a great 3rd quarter to climb back into the game. Followed by a 4th quarter where they run away with the game and the score looks like it was a blowout from the get go, which it wasn’t.
The Phoenix Suns were shooting a red hot 68 percent at halftime, and despite the Spurs putting up 58 points, they trailed by six.
In the 3rd quarter, the Spurs turned up the intensity on both ends of the floor. Manu Ginobili was the catalyst as he has been many times before, and turned the game around with a variety of game changing plays.
During a 3rd quarter run, he took a charge, hit a couple of 3 pointers, and blocked a couple of shots to fire up the Spurs and their home crowd!
Ginobili had a 12 point, five rebound, three assist, three block, and one steal game that doesn’t come close to encapsulating the game he had, or his impact on the game.
LaMarcus Aldridge in a quieter, more efficient performance, scorched the Suns for 27 points on 10 of 12 shots from the field. Tony Parker added 20 points, tying his season high, and Danny Green, David Lee, and Pau Gasol all reached double figures as well.
The Spurs ended up shooting 54 percent to the Suns 48 percent, and won the battle of the boards by 13.
It was an entertaining game from start to finish, and the Spurs were able to win while Leonard sat out with an illness.
The Spurs next hosted the Blazers on Friday night. The Spurs sat out an ailing Kawhi Leonard, and the Blazers sat out Damon Lilliard.
The Spurs found themselves in a hole after the 1st quarter to a hot shooting Blazers squad 32-22. The Spurs clawed their way back to within five by half, and then made their customary 3rd quarter run that they have done quite often this season.
The Spurs outscored the Blazers 33-21 in the 3rd quarter, and continued their stellar 2nd half play with a 30-21 4th quarter to turn another game where the Spurs trailed at half, (and about halfway into the 3rd quarter), before making a HUGE run in the second half resulting in a 4th quarter BLOWOUT!
Green was on fire with 6 of 8 from 3 point land, finishing with 18 points. Jonathon Simmons turned in one of his best outings this year too, finishing with 19 points and a HIGHLIGHT SLAM DUNK!
Ginobili was BIG again with 14 points and seven rebounds, and Parker went on a run late to keep the Blazers from thinking about a comeback with 18 points and five assists. The Spurs final score was 110-91 over the Blazers, and moved their record to an impressive 27-6 heading into the New Year.
The Spurs ended the week and started the new year with a heartbreaking loss. I guess they were due after rendering heartbreaking losses to the Rockets, Bucks, and Wizards just to name a few that come to mind immediately.
Both teams played great, so there is nothing but pride for our Spurs, just as if they had pulled it out. Aldridge, Parker, Gasol, and Green were all at their best, including when it mattered most late in the 4th and in overtime.
Tim Hardaway Jr. had a career game for the Hawks scoring 29 points on 11 for 13 shooting from the field. He hit the game tying 3 pointer in the waning seconds, off of a HOLD- PUSH-FOUL by Muscala on Ginobili that got him open, illegally!
Then Leonard who was 3 for 12 coming off an illness, had the game winner roll around the rim and drop out. That was the second sign, it just wasn’t our night with the bounces, or the calls, or the no calls.
The Spurs fell to the Hawks 114-112 in overtime.
The Spurs take a great 27-7 record into the upcoming week, and have in my opinion a team superior to the record setting team from last year.
This next week, they face a very good Raptors team on Tuesday, a Nuggets team on the road Thursday, and host the Hornets back home in San Antonio on Saturday.
I see an undefeated 3-0 week forthcoming.
The Raptors will be the victim of the Spurs frustration in barely being denied in their last game. The Nuggets are a team the Spurs seem to almost always get the best of in mile high city during the Duncan Era, and I’m hoping that continues this year post Duncan Era.
The Hornets are also pesky and Raptor like, but the Spurs home record is starting to get better and I see that trend continuing.
Happy New Year and Go Spurs Go!