AT&T CENTER – In their sixth preseason game on Tuesday, the San Antonio Spurs blew out the Orlando Magic 123-101. How did forward Tim Duncan see the preseason match, well, a bit more fun than just having to participate in a normal practice.
“It’s fun,” said Duncan. “It’s better than practice. We get to play against a different team, a different offense, a different set of guys and get to run our stuff against someone who does not know exactly what we’re going to run.”
Resting for the Spurs Tuesday was point guard Tony Parker, while Jameer Nelson rested for the Magic. Spurs guard Cory Joseph got the start and it began with a quick offensive outburst in the first quarter as the Spurs put 33 points on the scoreboard and never looked back.
When the final buzzer sounded, the Spurs had their highest scoring affair of the preseason with three 30-plus point quarters; and minus Parker, everyone saw time on the floor. To add to the offensive night, six players ended with double-figures as Patty Mills led the group with 22 points, five steals, and two blocks. Kawhi Leonard had an explosive second quarter which will be discussed a bit more in further detail below, as he finished with 19 points, five rebounds, and two assists. Newcomer Marco Belinelli scored 16 points, while Danny Green found the basket a few times for 14 points. Lastly, Manu Ginobili scored 12 points off the bench and Tim Duncan score 10 points, grabbed seven rebounds, and threw seven assists.
Here were some in game observations that were recorded during the game.
First quarter: Spurs 33-25
· The Spurs are running the offense through Kawhi early on in the first quarter. He's scoring at the rim and taking guys into the post. He also fed Duncan in the open court with a bounce pass.
· Mills was the first point guard off the bench for those wondering about the backup point guard depth chart.
· A lineup of Belinelli, Ginobili, Mills, Jeff Ayers, and Boris Diaw are really getting out in transition to end the first quarter.
Second quarter: Spurs 71-46
· The same lineup that finished the first quarter started the second quarter with a 6-0 run. There is so much passing by this group. Belinelli, Ginobili, and Diaw are all throwing fake passes/pump fakes on several possessions to get the Magic defenders out of balance.
· Manu and Bellinelli's continued to put on a show with their passing in their time together. Manu even tried to throw him an alley-hoop but then head coach Gregg Popovich pulled Manu to give him a break.
· The Spurs ran the offense through Leonard in the middle of the second quarter. He continued to attack and score with crossovers and he even drew a double-team before passing out to an open teammate.
· Leonard continued to steam roll through the second quarter. He scored 13 of his 17 first half points in the second quarter. He had several “and-1's” and even made a pull up jumper over two defenders. He also made the basket just before the half ended. Defenders tried to foul him but he still made his layups.
Third quarter: Spurs 102-72
· A lineup of Mills, Manu, Kawhi, Duncan, and Tiago Splitter started the second half.
· Leonard made a one-step to the side jumper before being pulled with 19 points in the game early in the third quarter.
· The Spurs continued to coast by 30-plus points in the third quarter.
Fourth quarter: Spurs 123-101
· To end the game, Coach Popovich played Joseph at point guard, Mills at shooting guard (like he does with the Australian National team), and Nando De Colo at small forward.
· The Magic would trim the lead back into the teens in the fourth quarter but the game was never close as the Spurs held on to win by 22 points.
What they said after the game
· Coach Popovich on Belinelli fitting in early on: “Well, he’ll continue to do that. He just got here and he’s got a really high basketball IQ. It won’t take him long to figure everything out, but so far he’s blended in real well.”
· Coach Popovich on whether Leonard can stay as aggressive when Parker, the full roster plays: “Well you know, that’s something we don’t worry about. We don’t have a need for touches. Whatever is appropriate and whatever wins is what we are concerned with. We don’t have guys that, you know, need to have the ball. It’s not something we do.”
· Magic forward Arron Afflalo on the Spurs: “This is a team that was in the Finals, that knows how to win. They were without one of their best players, and still showed that they can get the job done.”
“One more” – Gregg Popovich
As he was finishing his postgame interview, Coach Popovich let out a “one more” type of grumble referring to just one more preseason game. That final game will be played in San Antonio on Thursday as the Spurs host the new-look Houston Rockets who have revamped their team with Dwight Howard. The Spurs are 3-3 in the preseason.