Just when everybody thought these guys are running empty on their gas tanks, the San Antonio Spurs floors the accelerator on their engines and wages a mad dash toward the top spot at the close of the regular season.
And for the fifteenth straight time, they’re spending summer playing ball against 15 other teams.
How many times have they been written off as old, aging, and running low on fuel, and yet they somehow manage to claw their way up the top half of the standings and secure a spot in the playoffs? How many skeptics have been proven wrong about their pre-season hypothesis about the Spurs being just mere pretenders? And how many times this season have we seen these guys run winning streaks, pull off blow-outs and survive back-to-back-to-backs, without playing Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili and Tony Parker?
Whether we like it or not, these guys are set to be a mainstay in the postseason for a couple more years. Especially now, with the addition of both new and old players that have contributed to what has now become arguably “the deepest Spurs” roster ever, according to coach Gregg Popovich.
Speaking of coach Pop, he’s back in the Coach Of The Year discussions.
And why shouldn’t he, after pulling off the best run his team has ever had, amidst the pressure of a shortened season, which has become prone to injuries, fatigues and burn-outs? Keeping your big three players fresh for the playoffs is no easy feat, especially if you have to do it in 66 games. But not only has Pop kept Duncan, Parker and Ginobili healthy, but recharged for the tiff they’re set to have against the Utah Jazz.
So some might say an upset could once again derail these Spurs for the second time again. I disagree. The Spurs disagree. They’ve got enough fresh and healthy knees ready to bang against the young and upcoming teams in the West. And after they dispose of the Jazz, they’re raring to get even with the Memphis Grizzlies in the second round of they both survive the first round.
Maybe the word “survive” doesn’t fit them. You only use that for sputtering empty tanks.
Because the Spurs still have a full one left on them.
They just beat the surging Boston Celtics on the road, 87-86. They are now on a 9-game winning streak. They just closed in to the number one team in the West (OKC), just behind one game for the top spot, and is leading by as much as four-and-a-half games ahead of the number three LA Lakers. They’re one win away from clinching their 14th consecutive playoff berth, the longest current playoff appearance streak, and could be in the history of the NBA.
So, what about these Spurs’ huh?
A few months ago, people have been dismissing them as old, outdated and outworked by the up and coming new teams. But the results will bear the Spurs out–they have won their series against OKC and with the Denver Nuggets (their possible match-up of the playoffs started today). And they have been stepping up in their strategies on both ends on the floor. Just the other night, a newbie in the neighborhood by the name of Patty Mills, topscored during their game against the Cavaliers. New guys in the block like Danny Green and Kahwi Leonard have been taking more important roles in the rotation. Putting Manu Ginobili back into his former role as first man of the bench has enabled his team to win better without him getting more tired. And the recent acquisitions of Stephen Jackson and Boris Diaw has further deepened the Spurs.
And, it has also bolstered their bid for the championship.
On that regard, let’s all just wait and see–after all, they still got a few more days to prepare.
And now the question: are the Spurs aging, or are they raging?
Whoever said the San Antonio Spurs are boring and aging, must have one weird sense of boredom and age.
So now there’s a joke running around:
“70% of the earth is covered with water.
The rest is by Bruce Bowen!”
That was a good one, I should say, but just in case your not convinced, here’s a video recapping the highlights of one of the greatest defenders of the game. If your PC’s buffering just fine, go ahead to 1:08 all the way to 1:27, and see what commentators called as “tremendous defense.”
If you look at his career stats, you may be fooled to believing he had done nothing as a player in the eight seasons he had with the San Antonio Spurs.
But if you ask around the players during halftime break, they’ll tell you a totally different story about Bruce Bowen.
And they’ll tell you why they’re putting up his jersey number in the rafters.
Tonight, the Spurs organization pay tribute to the player that epitomized the Spurs defense during their three runs to a championship, by hanging his jersey into the rafters of the AT&T Center, for everyone to see and understand that high figures in stat sheets don’t always necessarily mean you’ll end up as a revered player in your franchise. In his own small ways, Bruce Bowen showed hardwork, dedication, commitment and diligence in perfecting and improving his craft that blended well into the system of the 4-time champion Spurs. If Tim Duncan, Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili were the Spurs’ Three Musketeers, Bowen would have to be the fourth one, the key that held the best of the three together in capturing the three Larry O’Brien trophies they earned in five seasons.
Bowen’s tenacious defense earned him a spot at the All NBA-Defensive Team for eight seasons, a testament to his aggressiveness and hustle play. His role as long-range shooter from the pocket has become a fixture in the Gregg Popovich-offense system, and the on the other end as a defender, well, let’s just say his work speaks for itself.
In an interview before his jersey was to be retired, Bowen admitted that this is much more meaningful to him than being hailed as a Naismith Hall of Famer, because the retirement of jersey shows that you have been loved and embraced by a family, a community, a throng of believers who have accepted him as one of their own. Not bad for a champion who has been to seven other teams in three different leagues, before finding a permanent home in Texas.
And so, from a Spurs fan, here’s to one of its great defenders–Bruce Bowen.
Finally, the drought away from home is over.
The San Antonio Spurs escaped with a win on the road over the Orlando Magic, 85-83, to finally snap a five-game losing skid outside of the AT&T Center.
It wasn’t an easy win, though, as it took five minutes extra to settle the matter. And it would have gone Orlando’s way, if not for J.J. Redick’s .5 second delay in getting the ball out of his hands and swishing the three at end of overtime.
Tony Parker scored 16 of his 25 points in the fourth quarter and the overtime period. He also dropped 9 dimes to help his team bounce back from a disappointing loss to Miami just last night. The Heat beat the Spurs 120-98, nullifying what began as a 17-point lead by the Spurs at one time, which could have gotten them their first win on the road. Nonetheless, San Antonio still keeps a good hold on top of the Western Conference standings with 10-5.
Dwight Howard scored 24 points and grabbed 25 rebounds, followed by Ryan Anderson’s 17 points and 11 rebounds. The Magic are now 10-and-4, with home and road records identical (5-2).
The Spurs host the Kings on Friday, before hitting the road again to face Houston. They then return on Monday to play the slumping New Orleans Hornets. The Magic on the other hand will face the LA Lakers on Friday, go to Boston on Monday, and the rising Indiana Pacers on Tuesday.
Tony Parker scored 12 of his 20 points in the fourth quarter to lead the San Antonio Spurs to a win over the Portland Trail Blazers, 99-83, earning them as well an 8-0 home record, their best start since 2007.
The Blazers had the lead entering into the fourth until Parker went to work, scoring 4-for-4 from the field and the charity line. He stole the ball twice and never committed a turnover. Tiago Splitter had 14 points courtesy of 5-for-5 from the field and 4-for-7 in the foul line. Tim Duncan and DeJuan Blair combined for 20 points and 20 rebounds to aid in the Spurs’ defensive end. In the end, San Antonio outscored Portland 34-18 in the final leg of the game.
The Trailblazers, on the other hand, weren’t as lucky as their main defensive big man Marcus Camby rolled his ankle during a tiff over the ball with Blair with four minutes left in the second quarter. Camby did not return to the game, and hinted that he might miss the next two to three games while the Blazers go on an eight-game road stretch starting with Houston tomorrow. LaMarcus Aldridge led Portland with 29 points, while Raymond Felton scored 13. Gerald Wallace and Wes Matthews each scored 12. Camby was the only Portland starter without a score.
Duncan was only seven points tonight on a 3-for-7 shooting. He is six points away from passing Gary Payton at 26th place in the all-time scoring list.
The Spurs are the only team in the Western Conference with a perfect record at home so far, but is also one of two teams in the West with a winless record on the road (along with Golden State). They play one more home game against the Phoenix Suns before the face the Miami Heat, who as of late has been beaten thrice. The win lifts San Antonio (8-4) back to third spot, just half a game behind Los Angeles and two games behind the West-leading OKC Thunder. Portland, on the other hand, drops to the fifth spot with a 7-4 card.
After losing to the Oklahoma City Thunder and the Milwaukee Bucks, the San Antonio Spurs got themselves out of the hole, exacted revenge against the Houston Rockets, and continued their winning streak at home with a 101-95 victory over their Texas rival.
The Spurs needed five more minutes to secure an unblemished record at home with 7-0. Offensively, Tony Parker took the lead with 28 points and 8 assists. On the other end of the floor, Tim Duncan came back to his typical, old defensive self, gathering 8 boards, swatting the ball twice and stealing it thrice, and still contributing 17 points to the Spurs’ winning cause. He also passed Larry Bird in the all-time scoring list after making a free-throw at the second half. He came into the game just 10 points shy of the former Boston Celtic legend’s record. Duncan’s role was most evident at overtime, with 1:18 remaining, where he blocked a shot which led to a fast break and a three-point dagger from Richard Jefferson, ultimately sealing the game for the Spurs.
The road, however, has not been very cooperating with San Antonio, as they have yet to win a game away from the AT&T Center. They still have the luxury of playing two more home games, against Portland on Friday and Phoenix on Sunday, just before they hit the road again and face the Miami Heat on Tuesday.
Already missing the services of injured Manu Ginobili, the Spurs lost the just-sizzling TJ Ford to a torn left hamstring during their loss to Milwaukee the other night. He, too, will be missing four to six weeks of action. The losses prompted coach Gregg Popovich to make some adjustments in his starting line-up, with Kawhi Leonard starting in place of Gary Neal, who goes back to bench duties. Coach Pop also recalled Corey Joseph and Malcolm Thomas from the D-League to expand further their thinning bench line-up.
Kyle Lowry led the Rockets with 22 points and 7 assists, while Luis Scola had 20 points and just 5 boards.
Having stayed in the number two spot for two weeks, the Spurs slid down the standings to number 4 with 7 wins and 4 losses. Houston, as of this moment is at the cellar of the standings in the West with 3-7.