Coming into Wednesday’s matchup with the Phoenix Suns, the San Antonio Spurs already knew they would be without point guard Tony Parker, who suffered a right shin contusion on Monday in the team’s loss to the Los Angeles Clippers. The Spurs were about to have the task of facing a Phoenix team that was on a 5-game winning streak.
Apparently, one 36 year old on the Spurs’ roster, was ready for the challenge.
Manu Ginobili and the Spurs would comeback down 10 points Wednesday to defeat the Suns 108-101 in Phoenix behind Ginobili’s 24 points, 7 assists, 6 rebounds, and 2 steals, including a clutch fourth quarter in which he scored 11-of-his 13 fourth quarter points in the final five minutes of the game.
Channing Frye (22 points) started the first half with a hot-shooting hand for the Suns as he scored 15 points in the first 24 minutes, including shooting 3-of-3 from beyond the arc. Ginobili led San Antonio with 11 points and 5 assists in the opening half, while Kawhi Leonard scored 10 of his 14 points in the first half to pace the Spurs. In that opening half, the Spurs would fall behind 10 points, but they would make strong comeback to take a 59-58 halftime lead.
In the second half, Tim Duncan would have a strong performance with 10 of his 17 points, as he put together his fifth straight double-double with 13 rebounds on the night.
On Saturday, in a win against the Minnesota Timberwolves, Ginobili scored 16 of his 20 points in the final quarter. He had another spectacular closing quarter against Phoenix as he scored 11 of the Spurs’ 15 final points in the last five minutes of the game. Whether it was hitting a clutch corner 3-pointer, his only one of the game; or providing layups or free throws, Ginobili was the Spurs’ answer without Parker.
· December Manu: In the win, Ginobili set a new season-high with 24 points. He scored that season high while playing just 27 minutes the entire game. In the month of December through 18 days, he’s averaging 14 points, shooting 55% from the field, shooting 39% from three, 5.4 assists, 4 rebounds, and just 2.4 turnovers in just 22.6 minutes per game. The production Ginobili is providing two months into the season is showing that with him taking the summer off from international play, his play is being rewarded early on at the start of the season. Ginobili’s offensive rating has also risen from 110.6 points per 100 possessions in November to 120.7 in December.
· Spurs’ Defense Present for 36 minutes: After allowing the Suns to score 34 points and shoot 60% in the first quarter, the Spurs’ defense held the Suns to quarters of 23, 22, and 20 points in the following three quarters. After the first, the Suns only shot 42% from the floor the rest of the way and only 20% from 3-point range.
· Limiting the Suns’ two-headed guard monster: The Spurs’ defense threw multiple defenders at the Suns’ guards Goran Dragic and Eric Bledsoe from players like Cory Joseph, Kawhi Leonard, to Marco Belinelli and more. The Spurs’ defense played solid defense as it took Dragic 18 shots to score 18 points and Bledsoe 15 shots to score 15 points.
· Mills providing support in Parker’s absence: Even though Joseph started the game at point guard, Patty Mills would finish the game in the fourth quarter. Mills score 12 points and threw 4 assists in his 31 minutes of play, while Joseph played 16 minutes.
· Bench play continues to soar: The Spurs’ bench outscored the Suns’ bench 58-29, while they also were responsible for 70% of the Spurs’ total assists (16-of-23 assists). Of all Spurs players that played in the match, every player scored at minimum four points.
Where they stand: With the win, the Spurs improved to 20-5 on the season. They moved to 11-3 on the road, they are 6-5 against teams that are .500 or above, and 11-4 against the Western Conference. They hold the highest Net Rating in the NBA at +9.8. They’re 4th in offensive rating at 106.5 points per 100 possessions, and their defense continues to rank 2nd in the league at 96.6 points per 100 possessions.
Up Next: The Spurs will travel to Oakland where they’ll face the Golden State Warriors on Thursday in a back-to-back set. The Warriors are currently 14-12 on the season, 8-3 at home, and are 3-8 against winning teams. The Warriors have an offensive rating at 104.1 (11th) points per 100 possessions, a defensive rating of 100.3 (7th) points per 100 possessions, and have a Net Rating of +3.8 (8th).
Parker will not play against the Warriors, while the Warriors recently added Andre Iguodala from the injured list back into their rotation.