Five minutes, 39 seconds left in the game. Tied at 79.
In their next six possessions, the Spurs score five times, with a bad Tim Duncan pass the only blemish. San Antonio ends up with 12 points over the stretch, with Manu Ginobili hitting two threes, Richard Jefferson splitting a pair of free throws and earning and-1, DeJuan Blair scoring a bucket off a crisp pass by Garrett Temple.
Each scoring possession for the Spurs is matched by a futile effort from the Kings. Tyreke Evans gets stopped going to the rim, leaving an inbounds pass to Carl Landry with two on the shot clock -- the resultant rushed shot misses the rim for a 24-second violation. On the next possession, Landry misses a long jumper; Beno Udrih sneaks in to keep the ball in the Kings' hands, but after a stalled offensive set Evans misses a 12-foot jumper. On the next possession, Evans attempts to drive on Ginobili, but spins right into him for an offensive foul. Next time down, Landry draws a foul inside, but misses both free throws. Next time down, Jason Thompson bricks a long two-point jumper with 11 seconds on the shot clock. Next time down, Evans bricks a three with 10 seconds on the shot clock.
If you get decent shots and miss down the stretch, that's one thing. But the Kings had bad possession after bad possession. Only one of the six possessions went the right way -- the one in which Landry got the ball near the rim and drew the foul. He shoots free throws well, so the misses aren't worth worrying about. But the bad shots fairly early in the shot clock? The completely stalled offense? That's what bugs me. That's what worries me about the line-up as constructed, and whether so many as two of the parts fit.
Does Landry really work with Evans? I haven't seen conclusive proof he does. Their pick-and-roll is odd, and Landry has become less a pivot player and more of a spot-up shooter. We need Landry in the post, and playing with Evans has pushed him out. Why? Can it be reversed? Or will Landry eventually end up as a sixth man again?
Evans is not unlike Ginobili, all told, though Manu has always shot pretty well. And Ginobili plays with a player similar to Landry on offense -- Duncan. Big Fun is lethal in the post, but he also has that slick elbow jumper, one he uses more frequently every day. They work, Manu and Duncan. And really, Evans is a bit like Tony Parker, too. And of course Parker-Duncan is a brilliant pairing.
The issue, I think, is the odd pick-and-roll machinations Evans has right now, as well as a general aversion to rolling for the bigs. We saw Evans-Spencer Hawes come around quite a bit as March wore on -- and Hawes really began rolling to the basket. Landry rarely does that at this point. He did have one P&R bucket inside against the Spurs; otherwise, he pops and Evans drives or passes out. Landry is agile, and an effective finisher. Evans is a good passer. This can work, and I hope it's just time and repetition that's needed to get it there. Otherwise, Evans either needs to be put into a non-P&R heavy offense, or he needs a new P&R partner.
I understood why Paul Westphal saved Donte Greene for the fourth quarter, but I didn't -- and don't -- agree with the decision. Andres Nocioni didn't have his offense right. Omri Casspi was active but not sharp. Greene owned the first half, and could have been a decent spark while the Spurs had some bench players on late in the third. This didn't decide the game, and Greene was rewarded with 12 minutes in the fourth, but still felt a bit off.
Sean May has a rather smooth stroke, if you haven't noticed.