Leading by 36 points at one time on Friday evening, the San Antonio Spurs didn’t celebrate their 130-102 rout of the Sacramento Kings with too much excitement.
The reason being, the Spurs would have probably taken either a loss or a close game instead of losing their best player, All-Star point guard Tony Parker.
“He’ll be out a while,” said Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich after the game where Parker sprained his left ankle late in the third quarter and did not return, “It’s a good one.”
“Now we’ll have to make more adjustments,” continued Popovich. “As I said, I think he’s playing better than any point guard in the league consistently, we’ll definitely miss him.”
Even before Parker went down, the Spurs’ offense, which could only muster one point on Wednesday in an overtime loss to Phoenix, was rolling from the start of the first quarter on Friday with their passing and high shot percentage on the way to their blowout of the Kings.
Here are five key points in the Spurs’ dominating game over the Kings.
1. Moving forward temporarily without Parker
Before going down with the injury, Parker had already scored 13 points and seven assists. Tim Duncan (13 points, 10 rebounds) knows the loss of Parker is a big one for the team. “Obviously it’s a huge loss,” said Duncan after the game, “he’s been our leader all year long. Pop will make some adjustments.”
Manu Ginobili’s answer to what the Spurs must do in order to maintain consistency without Parker: “We’re going to have to move the ball really well.”
Even after Parker left the game, the Spurs showed they are capable of being a dominant team without him so long as they move the ball and take high percentage shots. The Kings came in ranked in last place in the Western Conference on Friday, so moving the ball will be a bit more difficult when the Spurs face higher caliber teams.
The other players like Duncan, Ginobili, Kawhi Leonard (14 points), Tiago Splitter (14 points, 11 rebounds), Danny Green (15 points), and the rest of the roster will have to contribute equally and consistently in order to make up for what the team is losing without Parker’s scoring, passing, and penetrating ability.
2. Manu’s career night
One player who kept the Kings on their toes throughout the night and scrambling on defense either in the half court or open court was Ginobili. He set a new assist record for himself as he dished 15 assists on the night to an assortment of his different teammates. Whether it was throwing the ball through someone’s legs, giving out a no-look pass, or even passing after setting himself to shoot a jumper, Ginobili’s passing ability had the Spurs’ offense rolling.
3. Like soccer, the Spurs’ offense
On nights when the Spurs’ offense is producing so efficiently, they mirror a soccer team with the smooth passing and high shooting percentages. The Spurs passed for 41 assists on 51 made baskets. With those types of numbers, it’s no wonder they shot 60% on the night, scored 30 or more points in three quarters, and put up 130 points in regulation.
When the team is moving the ball and hitting a high percentage, their offense is really tough to slow down. Moving the ball was something Duncan mentioned the team didn’t do in their loss to Phoenix, as he attributed the lack of offense that night to too much one-on-one basketball.
The one area the Spurs need to improve on is their turnovers, as the team turned the ball over 19 times in the game.
4. The bench makes its mark
Aside from Ginobili’s career night, DeJuan Blair, in back-to-back games has been a productive piece off the bench as he scored 16 points in roughly 24 minutes. Matt Bonner’s shooting was also key as he provided 13 points off the bench on 3-of-6 shooting from beyond the arc. Patty Mills even contributed 12 points off the bench as everyone on the Spurs’ bench scored in the game except Nando De Colo.
5. Can Parker’s injury provide more opportunities for Kawhi?
The last time Parker was out was when he sat out a game in Chicago during the Rodeo Road Trip. Leonard was given the keys to the offense that night and he showed what he’s capable of doing offensively when the offense is put into his hands. If Parker is put into a suit for the next few games, days, or weeks, this could be an opportunity for Coach Popovich to see how much Leonard can really contribute offensively if he’s in a premier role in the offense and if the team begins to run the offense through him more often than a few times per game.
If Leonard is granted this opportunity, this is his time to shine and show if he’s ready to be just a role player, or a real threat in the offense.
Detroit Basketball comes in on Sunday
The Spurs will most likely play their first game without Parker on Sunday as they host the visiting Detroit Pistons who were just one of two teams that defeated the Spurs during their Rodeo Road Trip.
Where San Antonio stands
Here are a few stats showing where the Spurs stand in certain categories in the NBA.
Season record: 46-14
Home Record: 23-3
Vs. teams below .500: 26-4
Vs. the Western Conference: 26-10
In wins by 10 or more points: 26-4
(Photo: Spurs.com - D. Clarke Evans/NBAE/Getty)