As of 10:32 PM CST, San Antonio Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich hadn’t yet been named the head coach of the 2013 Western Conference All-Star team, as his team needed one victory to put Coach Pop in the top position.
After 48-minutes of a game where the Spurs turned the ball over 23 times, Tony Parker (22 points, 7 assists) shined in the fourth quarter, the young Spurs perimeter line scored over 14 points apiece, and the new Australian Aron Baynes received a decent amount of minutes and almost grabbed 10 rebounds, the Spurs defeated the Charlotte Bobcats 102-78.
“If that’s the case and I am the coach of the West All-Star team,” said Popovich after the game, “it will be just like in the past, a heck of an opportunity to enjoy amazing talent.”
Here’s the rundown of the Spurs’ game where they played a sloppy game yet maintained a double-digit lead for the majority of the game.
First Half: Spurs 49, Bobcats 39
Baynes checks in – At the 6:35 mark in the first quarter, Baynes check into the game. How was his first possession? He got called for a screen in which he checked his defender. The Australian wasn’t spectacular in the first half, but he also wasn’t a liability out on the floor as he finished with four rebounds, one foul, and one turnover in 8:20. He looked like he was adjusting to the speed of the NBA as he was trying to hustle back to his defender or switch on guards in pick-and-roll plays.
“He got a little winded,” said Popovich after the game of Baynes. “Since I’ve been talking to them and trying to work things out,” said Baynes after the game, “it’s been a little while since I’ve played so I’m just trying get out and adjust as fast as I can.”
The young wing players – Both Kawhi Leonard (18 points, 5 rebounds, 2 steals) and Danny Green (17 points, 5 rebounds, 3 steals) had eight points at the end of the first quarter as Leonard got most of his points off 3-pointers and Green scored from the inside. By the halftime came, Leonard had collected 13 points and Green had 10 points as both players combined were 5-of-5 from behind the arc.
Oh the turnovers– The one weakness of this years Spurs team returned in the first half, as the Spurs turned the ball over six times in the first quarter and six more times in the second quarter to go into halftime with 12 turnovers. The Spurs’ lead got as high as 13 points, and it seemed as if they were going to blow the game open, but the turnovers would stop their own momentum.
The quiet Parker and Splitter – Since Leonard and Green were having a stellar first half, the Spurs’ new bread-and-butter pick-and-roll duo of Parker and Tiago Splitter (15 points) went into halftime quietly with a combined 17 points.
Ball Game: Spurs 102, Bobcats 78
Baynes unleashed – The second half was where Spurs fans in the AT&T Center along with Baynes’ teammates and coaching staff got to see more of his positive attributes he can bring to a game. Baynes was physical down low grabbing rebounds with two hands, power slamming a two-handed dunk off a pick-and-roll from Parker, getting tip-ins on the offensive glass, and his final statement was a successful alley-hoop from his fellow countryman Patty Mills.
Baynes finished the game with seven points, nine rebounds, four fouls, three turnovers, and one block in almost 18 minutes of play.
“He’s a very strong and a very hard playing young man,” said Popovich after the game, “It was good to give him some minutes and to get a look at him. I thought he did a fine job.”
“I’m trying to focus in on Spurs basketball and help them as much as possible,” said Baynes after the game.
"It was good," said Baynes of Mills' alley-hoop, "I just wanted to put it in the hole. I didn't want to kill the assist."
Parker continues to dominate – There’s a reason the NBA named Parker the Western Conference player of the week. Parker again made the plays when the Spurs needed them most. Though the Bobcats were down by 24 points at most, they did get the lead down to nine points in the second half and Parker helped the Spurs push back their lead. Parker scored 13 points in the second half while also initiating the offense for his teammates.
“He’s just been great,” said Leonard of Parker after the game. “He’s been stepping up when we really need him.”
“He made a couple of buckets down the stretch when they (Bobcats) cut it to nine or ten,” said Popovich after the game, “He put it upon himself and scores two buckets. He has been really special.”
Manu questionable again? – Late in the second half, Manu Ginobili’s hamstring began to feel tight, so coach Popovich said the team decided to rest him. There is no word yet on whether Ginobili will play on Saturday.
Last game before the Rodeo – With the victory, the Spurs moved to 37-11 on the season, stretched their league leading win streak to nine games, improved to 21-2 at the AT&T
Center, are 21-1 against teams below .500, and are 19-3 in games decided by 10 or more points.
For Parker, Wednesday’s win meant he’ll get to enjoy something new in his career that he has yet to do.
"Personally I'm happy,” said Parker after the game, “I've never been to the All-Star Game with him."