12 November 2008

Let's Start The Roller-Coaster Ride

It feels so uncommon to start the whole new season with so few games -- and so many day-offs in between. Just as uncommon as watching a 0-3 record to start the season, first since that some of the 70s seasons; also 0-3 at home since seasons ago (though i believe it's still not very long ago, in 2002 to quote the running text at the Heat game). The Big Three are downed to Big One, leaving only the Big Fundamental, while the other pillars are limping off the court with problems. The Heat game was the first testimony of how the Spurs would battle themselves out of this heavy burden.
Then it came the Knicks, with their new perspective from their new coach D'Antoni, after sending Utah Jazz down to earth from their 6-0 start. Still, the Knicks had to find a way to contain Duncan inside, while Duncan tried to save his team from drowning early 0-4 at home this season. The latter seems to have the last laugh.
Starting with George Hill to replace Parker, Pop also made some adjusments by playing Roger Mason, Jr. and Ime Udoka earlier, instead of Michael Finley and Bruce Bowen. The latter had been a starter for all of the game when his name was on the list for the Spurs. All but this time; yes, there is always the first time.
Hill answered the challenge well, as he drove several times to the basket early in the game, a feat not followed well by Mason and Udoka, who shot a combined 8 field goal, all missed. Then Finley and Bowen came in to replace them, and Finley quickly answered with a basket and a 3-pointer to keep a tie at the end of 1st period, 20-20.
Udoka continued his shooting slump to the second period, as all the guards who handled the ball the most had zero assist combined, while Duncan had 4. Knicks take the lead when Jamal Crawford hit a 3-pointer at the last minute made it 41-38.
After a brief rest, Udoka started the second half with a pair of basket, including a 3-pointer. Mason also made his first shot in this period. With a steady performance by Finley and Bowen -- maybe they should come from the bench, just like Pop usually does with Manu --, and with a little luck from Bowen, whose three landed just half a second before the buzzer, Spurs gained their lead into the final period, 67-64, a lead they never surrendered 'til the end. The 92-80 win also brought memories back to D'Antoni, the losing ones.
Bowen and Finley combined for 27 points, a productive effort followed by Hill, who scored 12 in his debut as a starter. Fabricio Oberto also made a quiet solid contribution by 6 points, 9 rebounds, and 3 assists.
Well, it's a lineup Popovich would never think of, or even dream of, but in the end, at the emergence of losing his precious duo, the team showed him what are they made of.
Tomorrow, let's taste a bit of Bucks when they visit Milwaukee. Hope it's still a way up to the peak.

07 November 2008

Half-Time Show

More Of Defensive Specialists, Please...
A lively prediction has been occured in some discussion spot wondering who will be the lucky player(s) being signed as (a) Spurs. Had you been forget, it is a team with very strong defensive mentality -- don't forget that defense win championship -- and little did it need a scoring prowess like George Gervin (was it the reason he moved to Bulls?) or the likes of Jordan and other scoring champs. Even David Robinson must fight 'til the end to grab that once-in-a-lifetime chance he'd never have, again, ever!
So, Kurt Thomas was brought in last mid-season, but proved to be insufficient. The talks about Antonio McDyess has been up in the air, but it is reported that he doesn't want to play anywhere but Detroit (although he was drafted by Denver), a condition that probably would force Denver to buy out his contract, like Barry did after his trade to Seattle. If it happens, then it would be a regret not to try luring him to play in San Antonio. Besides, isn't San Antonio is the Western Detroit? (I prefer the term "Detroit is the Eastern San Antonio" rather than the opposite) And if he is hunger for championship, maybe he could be convinced to play here, since Detroit would not be the same team as it was under Flip Saunders.
Personally, I miss the time when my team won the rebounding all the way through the regular season.
A Good PER.. Or A Nice Position On Top?
The thought of Player Efficiency Rating (PER) is all about offensive statistic, isn't it? As far as teams go, there'll be a lot more than that. According to PoundingTheRock, #1 player in the list is... guess who: TONY PARKER, with some numbers begin with 39. The next closest is LeBron with 32-something. The next Spur is in #9, TIM DUNCAN - over 28. And still has two Spurs in the top 25: ROGER MASON, Jr at #25, and have another wild guess... rookie GEORGE HILL above him, in #22, also ahead of Steve Nash. A very terrific combo, and Spurs at the bottom of the table with one win out of four games.
Still from the same site, then if four Spurs mentioned above still play the way they played, and the rest of the team still defend the way they did, the record at the end of the season would be under .500 as well. Boy, i would be more than happy to trade those position to Kobe, AI, T-Mac, Shaq, and be in the driving seat now, 'til the end of the season next June.

06 November 2008

A Win Needed So Badly

It has been... i forget how long, i haven't born yet, but isn't a loss in season opener, then followed by 2 more, too much for the Spurs? I mean, look at them, 2 years ago they're in the top of the world... i mean: "top of the USA". Sure, Coach Pop knows how to make his players understand that winning the NBA championship means nothing compared to the world; it's only one of terms defined in american dreams, and by his name, you know that's he's not a native.
Three losses! Well, what do you expect, all came from playoff teams -- or at least playoff-caliber teams -- a 5-point-game from an Arizona team, followed by a near-win (but unfortunately lost) game in Portland, and a blow-out against texas arch-rival back home. The fourth one should be easier anyhow, as predictors ranked them as high as the 12th team out Western Conference, the Wolves.
Should you watch the game, it didn't turn out exactly like that. Super Parker, recording his second double-double in the first four games which isn't what he is this recent years, leading the team with 55 points in a heroic double-OT win in Target Center, including his 20-feet-buzzer-beater shot that slipped through the basket as time expired in the first overtime to force the tie at 116. It also matched the third-highest point scored by a Spur in a single regular game. Only the Admiral's 71 points and Iceman's 63 points exceed Parker's total this night, and both of them made in the final game of the regular season to clinch the NBA scoring title for both players. Had the 2008/09 season end by today, he will, lead the NBA in scoring, matches his two predecessor back in 1978 and 1994. Rookie George Hill quoted as saying something like: "never seen something like that, except when i was playing him in video games."
Hill also had some role that make Spurs look fresh. Swingman Roger Mason, Jr., whom the Spurs signed last summer to take some of the load off Ginobili, doing well by scoring 26 points, including two vital offensive rebounds in the last 25 seconds of the second overtime. He is now third in scoring average behind Parker and Duncan.
Tim Duncan did what he did every night, but Minnesota had him worked harder, so someone had to be more aggresive on the other end. Last year, it was Manu. And tonight, the French point guard took over.
He played more than 48 minutes, but "I just wanted to win so bad that I was going to do everything i can." And at the end, "whew, I am tired."
But at the end, the win finally did come. When one came, they'll be always others to follow.