San Antonio needed to show up today, and they did. Well, Tony did.
1Q The French Flash opened it up with a reverse layup, and the Spurs started out shooting dramatically better than game 3. Duncan was working down low, drawing fouls, and got Dirk frustrated enough to be T’d up. Sadly, the offense started to stall, with only Parker generating any offense. Josh Howard, off to another strong start, kept the intensity up for Dallas, and they went on a 14-1 run as San Antonio forgot how to box out and rebound. But Udoka made a block to end the quarter on a positive. 29-32 Dallas.
2Q 2 minutes in, and Bonner picked up his 4th foul. The Dallas defense had stiffened up, and the Spurs were playing sloppy on both ends of the court. Disturbingly, Gooden looked tired, not anywhere near the energy level he displayed in game 2. But as Terry broke away on the break, Udoka made a fantastic hustle play, chasing him down to disrupt the shot. San Antonio caught the energy and went on a run. Parker tied the Iceman’s playoff record of 31 points in a half at 56.7 seconds, and the Spurs rolled to a 55-51 halftime lead, with Parker and Duncan combining for 46.
3Q Dallas came out of the locker room hot for 3s. San Antonio’s offense was stagnant throughout the period, and they had no answer for Hollins energy off the Dallas bench. Pop finally brought Hill into the game, who was strongly rejected by Hollins on a layup. Spurs did nothing as they managed a mere 16 points in the quarter. Dallas up, 71-80.
4Q Gooden was doing his part to get Tim and Tony some rest, by sending Mavericks to the charity stripe. With the team still struggling, Parker started to heat up with 8 minutes to play, and the defense showed signs of life. Pop had put Hill back in the game, and while not playing spectacularly, was playing solidly on both ends of the court, even hitting a big 3 with 2:30 to play. Duncan picked up his fifth foul with 2:06 to play, and San Antonio promptly stopped attacking. As we bricked 3 after 3, the Mavericks ran up a 9 point lead. With the game all but over, Popovich waves off Hill’s attempt to foul and stop the clock. Spurs drop another one, 90-99.
Review 68 of 90 pts, 10 of 14 assists, 6 of 9 steals, and 2 of 3 blocks. Those were the stats of the Big 2 compared to the rest of the Spurs. That is not a recipe for winning a basketball game. Parker tied the Iceman’s record not because he wanted to, but because he had to. Take away Tim and Tony, and you have a group that combined for 25% shooting. When Dallas brought someone to the bench, Terry and Hollins kept it going with production and energy. When San Antonio brought someone to the bench, they got missed shots, bad defense, and turnovers. Hill provided a small spark at the end, but it was far too little, far too late. Question: What did Finley do to deserve 36 minutes?
Coming Home It’s win or stay home. The Spurs need Parker to do his thing, Duncan to play like the All-Star he is, and everybody else to do, um, something. It’s hard to pinpoint anything specific, because they’ve done so little. I see a lot of standing around when you could slide 3 feet for a more direct pass and still very open 3. I see complete ignorance when it comes time to box out. I see Duncan running to the perimeter because no one is guarding the open 3. I see Parker sapped of energy from carrying the entire team on his back. The Spurs are built with stars and role players who know what to do, and when to do it. Now, those role players need to do that, whatever that may be.
Parker 43 pts, 5 boards, 18-29 FG Duncan 25 pts, 10 boards, 7 assists Hill 6 pts, 2-3 FG, defense, 14 minutes
Howard 28 pts, 4 boards Kidd 17 pts, 7 boards, 7 assists Nowitzki 12 pts, 13 boards