Spurs show no love for Nets

NEW JERSEY – It may be Valentine’s Day but the San Antonio Spurs (46-9) showed no love tonight towards the New Jersey Nets (17-39) as they beat the Nets 102 to 85 at the Prudential Center.

For the most part, the Spurs got the win in the paint dominating the Nets 40 to 28. Tim Duncan was doing most of the damage for the Spurs as he scored 15 points, three blocks, and grabbed 11 boards.

The Spurs’ other big man DeJuan Blair pointed to Duncan as the key to the Spurs dominating the Nets in the inside.

“Tim Duncan sparked it off. He played great against a great player (Brook Lopez).”

But it wasn’t just the Spurs inside game that got the win tonight. The Spurs held the Nets to 45% shooting (36 of 80) and dominated the boards 50 to 39.

In the second half, the Spurs didn’t start off strong as they picked up two quick offensive fouls and Nets’ center Lopez was hitting shots at the rim.

But the Spurs went back to what was maintaining their lead by getting it in the middle to Duncan and clamping down on defense as at one point they held the Nets to 32.8% shooting at one point.

“It was tough,” said Nets’ Brook Lopez on playing Duncan. “I tried to keep him from getting middle, but he spun back a couple of times and had some big shots. They were good looks for him they went down.”

It also wasn’t just Duncan doing the damage to the Nets on the inside. Spurs’ guard Tony Parker was knifing into the lane, getting lay-ups and finished the night with 13 points and seven assists.

Nets’ coach Avery Johnson had a lot to say about his former team’s performance tonight and Parker.

“They do a good job off of scoring their offensive rebounds. They do a good job at closing out quarters, definitely closing out the halves, and Tony (Parker) is the reason. He’s number one on points in the paint for a reason. You saw it tonight, but we just didn’t do a good job of getting what we call, two on the ball, getting some support in that situation.”

Spurs’ coach Popovich was also pleased with the Spurs’ focus on the defensive end.

“I was pleased, I thought we focused the entire game. We played with physicality and we played good defense throughout the game.”

Manu Ginobili led the way for the Spurs scoring 22 points.

Perhaps Nets’ coach Johnson said it best, “We just didn’t have much of an inside game tonight.”

The Spurs will conclude the Rodeo Road Trip with a visit to Chicago to face the Bulls on Thursday.

Notes:

  • Five Spurs scored in double figures tonight: Duncan with 15, Blair with 10, Manu Ginobili with 22, Tony Parker with 13, George Hill with 13, and Gary Neal with 11.
  • The Spurs are now 34-3 when scoring 100+ points and 38-0 when shooting a higher field goal percentage than their opponent.
  • The Spurs came into tonight’s matchup ranked first in the NBA in three-point field goal percentage at .395. Tonight they shot .438% (7-16) from the three-point line.
  • Duncan tallied his team-leading 19th double-double tonight recording 15 points and 11 boards in 26 minutes.
  • Nets’ Lopez scored 11 points and grabbed 10 rebounds in 30 minutes.

Spurs vs. Nets Recap

For those of you late to the party, it should be obvious by now that it is a difficult year for the San Antonio Spurs (44-29). The same team that beat the Boston Celtics (47-26) on Sunday evening couldn’t beat the struggling New Jersey Nets (10-64) a mere 24-hours later.

While back spasms forced Manu took a seat courtside next to injured teammate Tony Parker, the Spurs’ starting lineup of Keith Bogans, Antonio McDyess, Tim Duncan, George Hill and Richard Jefferson took to the hardwood.

The first minute of the game was just foreshadowing for what was to come as the Nets gained first possession of the ball. After a Spurs rebound, Hill went for a failed layup and put the ball back in the Nets’ hands. Almost immediately, former Dallas Maverick Devin Harris shot a three-pointer for the first points of the game… not exactly a good sign.

After Devin Harris’ free throw to tie the score at 14-14, Duncan missed what could’ve been a nice floater. With four minutes left in the quarter, San Antonio was barely trailing New Jersey with less than stellar shooting, making seven of sixteen shots. Garrett Temple, one of the newest members of the team, made his own mark with a huge three from the corner with a minute to go. Coming off a double-double on Sunday night against Boston, former Net Jefferson was actually a significant contributing factor to the Spurs’ offense with 10 points in the first, in which San Antonio finished with a six-point lead over New Jersey, 33-27.

Nearly a minute into the second quarter, Roger Mason Jr.’s basket put the Spurs on a seven-point run as well as an eight-point lead, their largest of the game so far. It wasn’t long before New Jersey returned to narrow the lead to four. San Antonio’s shooting began to suffer further, missing five consecutive shots; Duncan stepped up to the free throw line only to miss both shots. Jefferson brought the ball back in and got the ball to Hill, who shot an impressive three-pointer right when they needed it most with nearly six minutes left in the half.

A three-point play from Jefferson gave the Spurs an eleven-point lead, taking advantage of the Nets’ own shooting woes before Harris came back with a layup. In addition to seven turnovers in the second quarter alone, missed free throws from San Antonio continued to hurt the team as Bogans missed both shots with less than two minutes left. Harris’ three-point play brought the Nets back within three of the Spurs; Bonner’s three-point attempt and Blair’s offensive rebound-for-layup both failed at the end of the half – San Antonio 46, New Jersey 43.

We all know the third quarter is unusually rough for San Antonio and Monday night was no exception, which wasn’t helped by Mason’s sprained right knuckle – he did not return to the game. Picking up the slack, Duncan and Jefferson came back to help early on by adding three-of-four free throws to bring the Spurs a little room to breathe over the Nets, who were fighting to avoid the worst record in NBA history.

San Antonio fought to stay alive over New Jersey towards the end of the third, but Harris continued to lead the Nets in a charge to catch up. With just under three minutes left in the quarter, Hill made two nothing-but-net free throws before a big offensive play ending in a basket. Blair recovered a missed New Jersey shot and found Hill, who moved the ball down the court before passing to McDyess. He got the ball back to Blair, who passed back to Hill – a big jump gave the Spurs a six-point lead yet again.

Hill’s missed jumper was recovered by Blair, who went in for the basket to bring the Spurs back within six over New Jersey, but a Nets basket cut the San Antonio lead right at the buzzer to end the third quarter, San Antonio 66, New Jersey 62.

It was hard enough to watch live, so for those who missed out, here’s a two-word synopsis of the fourth quarter in general:

THEY CHOKED.

I won’t ask what words began flowing from the mouths of every Spurs fan in the Izod Center, but I can assure you they weren’t pretty, considering the final score of San Antonio 84, New Jersey 90. The San Antonio defeat ended New Jersey’s 14-game losing streak to the Spurs, their first win over the team since 2002.

The upside to the dismal duel in the Meadowlands was the nice turnout of fans donning the silver and black, including Project Spurs’ own head honchos, Jeff Garcia and Mike DeLeon. With so many fans in the seats to cheer the team on far from the 210 area code, it’s sad that the team didn’t quite show up to play for them.

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