25 points, 13 rebounds, 6 assists, and 4 blocks all came from a 36-year old man in the NBA on Wednesday evening.
Who was that man, San Antonio Spurs’ Tim Duncan, as Duncan guided the Spurs in the fourth quarter to a 104-93 victory in the AT&T Center.
“He was unbelievable,” said Spurs forward Tiago Splitter (17 points) after the game. “He’s in great shape and down the stretch we went through him,” added Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich.
Defending an offensive oriented team like the Warriors was no easy task, but Popovich felt the Spurs’ defense did their job.
“They are a very difficult team to guard,” said Popovich of the Warriors. “I thought our defense was the best defense we’ve played in a couple of weeks.”
Outside of Duncan and Splitter, the Spurs knew they were going to need help off of the bench. Rookie Nando De Colo and the Spurs’ bench provided the extra support as the Spurs contained the Warriors. Here are five key points from the game.
1. Duncan dominant once again
With Tony Parker still sidelined, Duncan has continued his All-Star role by guiding his team throughout the game on both ends of the floor. Whether it was the playing the role of point guard on a fast break, knocking down baskets in the post, or making some jumpers, the Warriors had no answer for Duncan throughout the night as he scored six points in the fourth quarter, when his team needed them most.
“Tim Duncan made plays and that is what he does,” said Warriors guard Stephen Curry (24 points) after the game.
“Tim is one of the best to play the game,” Warriors forward David Lee added after the game, “if not the best and I have a lot of respect for him as a player.”
“My jump shot is coming back,” mentioned Duncan afterward. “I feel healthy, my body feels good and shots are going in.”
2. Duncan’s robin, Tiago Splitter
Andrew Bogut looked like he was dancing throughout the night in the paint and it was due to one player, Splitter. Splitter used a variety of pump fakes and jukes in the post to find himself opportunities to score throughout the night.
“They’re a good one-two combo,” said Lee after the game of Splitter and Duncan. “Obviously when the attention we have to show Duncan, it makes Splitter’s job that much easier.”
3. Spurs’ defense resurfaces
In the last few games, when Popovich said the Spurs seemed to be stuck in the mud, they were going through quarters where they were allowing their opponents to score over 30 points in a quarter at times.
Wednesday, the Spurs never gave up more than 25 points in a quarter, held the Warriors to 44% shooting, and made them turn the ball over 17 times. Duncan was the guardian of the paint, as he blocked four shots on the night, though he says the Spurs’ defense wasn’t too great, but it was an improvement.
“It’s closer. It wasn’t exactly there,” said Duncan of the Spurs’ defense. “We had some mistakes that gave up a bunch of points in a short amount of time. But, all in all, it was a good effort and we had good focus.”
The Spurs’ defense limited Curry to 24 points on 20 shots, Lee to 10 points on 17 shots, and Jarrett Jack (who came in averaging 25.5 points and 10 assists vs. the Spurs) to 14 points and seven assists.
4. A physical, aggressive De Colo
One of the surprises of the evening was the play of De Colo. Not only was De Colo physical by taking the ball to the basket instead of just settling for outside shots, but he was responsible for defending Jack throughout the game and grabbing two steals for baskets on the other end.
“I thought he was a really physical player tonight,” said Popovich of De Colo. “He’s a smart player, we already know that. But he’s got to be able to bang, hit and keep up with a physical game like it was tonight and the way it’s going to be in the playoffs.”
Is this a hint De Colo might make the playoff roster in 14 games? Probably not, but Popovich did mention the post-season and De Colo.
5. Ginobili comes through in the final 12 minutes
When you look at Ginobili’s stat line: 5-of-16 shooting and 2-of-8 shooting from 3-point range looks abysmal. Though Ginobili didn’t have a great shooting night, he came through when it mattered most, the fourth quarter. Ginobili scored nine of his 16 points in the fourth quarter, no shot bigger than a 3-pointer that was a dagger for the Warriors.
After the game, Coach Popovich said that he expects Ginobili to come through when the team needs him.
“Manu is a Hall of Fame kind of player,” said Popovich. “You expect it from him and he gives it to you.”
Could Parker return Friday versus the Jazz?
Before the game, Popovich said “it’s possible” Parker might return Friday against the Utah Jazz. If Parker does get the ok, he’ll probably be put on a limited minutes plan. If he doesn’t, the Spurs will have to be prepared as the Jazz are in desperation mode trying to catch the Los Angeles Lakers for the 8th playoff spot in the Western Conference.
Where San Antonio stands
Here are a few stats showing where the Spurs stand in certain categories in the NBA.
Season record: 52-16
Home Record: 29-4
Vs. teams above .500: 25-10
Vs. the Western Conference: 29-12
In wins by 10 or more points: 30-6
As Parker heals: 7-2
Winning Streak: 3 games