The Spurs are far better than .500, despite the record. I could try to explain what's gone wrong, but Timothy Varner of 48 Minutes of Hell can do it from a tighter perspective, much more eloquently.
[T]hrough 18 games, those horses have come up lame. Rather than getting a lift from the supporting cast, Tim Duncan is playing with MVP-efficiency and barely keeping the Spurs at a half-respectable .500. If the Spurs recover from their start of sputter and stall, Tim Duncan ought to be placed at the center of the MVP conversation. He’s threatening a career season, at least in terms of efficiency. And it’s all lost on a 9-9 start.
Don’t get me wrong. It’s not that no one else is playing well. Matt Bonner is a having a career year; DeJuan Blair is occasionally sensational. Tony Parker is not dominating, but playing competent basketball. I get all that, and I could further qualify. It’s just that the supporting cast taken as a whole is providing more drag than momentum-gathering boost. Tim Duncan is all dragster, and the team is mostly parachute.
Richard Jefferson has certainly been disappointing, and Manu Ginobili has seemingly been on-and-off, hot-and-cold. For the Kings' sake, given that our defense isn't bright and the Spurs' defense continues to be, let's hope Jefferson disappoints and Ginobili is more cold than warm.
|Roger Mason Jr.||17||18.4||2.3||6.0||38.2||0.9||3.1||30.8||0.4||0.5||77.8||0.1||1.6||1.6||2.2||1.1||0.3||0.2||1.5||5.9|
THE KEY BATTLE
Tony Parker vs. Tyreke Evans. Reke struggled to defend the pick-and-roll against the Spurs last time around, with Parker slicing to the rim at will. Now granted, Parker does this against most teams. But if the Kings want to compete, Parker can't own the driving lines. He's going to have to work.
On the other end, it's a two-fold challenge in attacking San Antonio's defense: win the favorable size mismatches (particularly Evans-Parker) and overachieve in the problem spots (Andres Nocioni against the tough-inside, anti-three team defense, Jason Thompson vs Tim Duncan). Evans is the biggest key here, both in terms of punishing Parker without getting denied by Duncan and friends, and in terms of setting up Thompson, Spencer Hawes and others with easy attempts.
Let's play Inane Arguments, hosted by Grant Napear! His tirades against
a) Paul Westphal for protesting the shot clock violation when the Kings inbounded with 1 second on the clock, and
b) Jason Thompson for protesting his fifth foul, which came when he pulled Darius Songaila's jersey on defense
were inane. Everyone, including Westphal, who, you know, has been around the league a while, knows that there could be less than a second left. Westphal was indicating he thought the New Orleans scorekeeper jobbed the Kings by starting the shot clock just a touch before the ball was touched. This is a pretty classic home court advantage type move. If you read Westphal's lips, he says "Nice timekeeper!" or something like that. He is indicating that he believes the shot clock was started early. Not that the Kings deserve a full second because the clock read 1. You idiot.
Regarding Thompson, Napear kept on about how obvious a foul it was, and how Thompson should have shut up about it and play smarter defense. Of course, Thompson was protesting the fact that he was assaulted repeatedly at the other end, with nary a whistle to help him out. You can see him motion to the refs that he had been beaten about the head by the Hornets defense, and how he deserved to get some calls if the refs insisted on calling Nancy garbarge like the jersey yank. Thompson wasn't saying, "I didn't pull his jersey!" He was saying, "They are beating me about the head and whatnot, how bout a whistle, chum?"
And missing those things isn't terrible. It's the attitude that he, Grant, is the smartest person in the world that grates.
Matt Bonner takes more three-pointers than Spencer Hawes.
Spurs by ... never mind. I am not a jinx.
The tip-off, again, is at 5 o'clock. Game thread then, with the second game thread at 6 and the post-game thread at 7:45. Recap someday.