"We moved the ball really well. We have to without Tony's penetration."
That was San Antonio Spurs forward Tim Duncan Sunday after his team took the court without injured All-Star guard Tony Parker, and walked off with a 39-point victory over the Detroit Pistons.
“That’s who we have to be if we want to go into the playoffs and advance,” added Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich after the victory where his team passed for 35 assists on their 45 made baskets.
"The system is pretty much still the same,” said guard Gary Neal of the Spurs playing without Parker, “just stay true to the system." Neal himself thought he might not play, but with a 114-75 rout, every Spurs player in uniform was granted minutes.
The one Spur who initiated the blowout of the Pistons was Manu Ginobili (17 points), who said he knows he has to be more efficient with Parker out for a projected month.
"I'm going to have to make more decisions with the ball and be more active," said Ginobili after the game.
Here are five key points in the Spurs’ blowout of the Kings where all active players scored, second year guard Cory Joseph looked comfortable running the show, and the Spurs’ offense and defense were both in sync.
1. It was 12-12 until Manu came in
The first six minutes of the game were the closest to competitive the game would be, as the Spurs and Pistons were tied at 12. Then insert Manu Ginobili. Ginobili came in and immediately scored 10 points in the first quarter, he ended a 20-7 run with a 4-point play by getting fouled for a 3-pointer that he made. Ginobili would continue to score at will in the second quarter where he added seven more points, to go into halftime with 17 points.
One of his many premier plays in the game was a half court pass to a defended Kawhi Leonard (14 points, 6 rebounds) that resembled a quarterback in football leading his receiver on a route. Ginobili spoke of the chemistry he and Leonard are developing in the open court.
“We are starting to find each other in those situations,” said Ginobili of his pass to Leonard. Ginobili was almost perfect shooting in the game, as he finished shooting 6-of-8 from the field.
“Ginobili is a great player,” said Pistons guard Will Bynum after the game, “that goes without saying, they just beat us badly tonight.”
2. The machine-like offense
“You know what’s coming,” said Pistons coach Lawrence Frank of the Spurs’ offense after the game, “but we couldn’t stop it.”
Aside from the on-mark passing, the Spurs’ offense scored over 25 points in each quarter of the game, outscored the Pistons 25-6 in fast break points, and shot 51% on the night, while limiting their turnovers to just 11.
Every player scored in the game and four players ended the night in double figures. Duncan and Stephen Jackson even tied their season high in assists with six a piece.
3. Solid defense throughout the game
A sign that the Spurs’ defense really held the Pistons was that Detroit had barely scored 50 points midway into the third quarter.
“We had good focus,” said Popovich of the Spurs’ defense. The Spurs kept the Pistons below 20 points in the first, third, and fourth quarter. Detroit shot 33% on the night, and the Spurs forced them into 19 turnovers. Overall, the Spurs tallied 12 steals and nine blocks. Duncan alone had five blocks, while Danny Green (16 points) had two blocks.
4. A walk in the park for the starters
Joseph made his second start of his career and was productive with his 18 minutes of play. He ended with eight points, four assists, and two steals.
“I thought he did a fine job,” said Popovich after the game of Joseph, “I liked his defense, he was really sticking his nose in.”
Duncan finished the game with 16 points, 11 rebounds, and six assists. Popovich said it was the best Duncan has looked in a few weeks. Duncan though said he’s still not 100%.
"I still don't know,” said Duncan of his rhythm and health, “health wise, I felt great tonight."
Duncan passed Buck Williams in NBA career rebounding, as Duncan is now ranked 13th in NBA history. Aside from Green’s 16 points and Leonard’s 14 points, Tiago Splitter even added eight points and eight rebounds on the night.
5. The bench
Aside from Ginobili’s scoring, the bench was very efficient as each player mainly scored or threw an assist in the team effort. The Spurs’ bench outscored the Pistons bench 52-31. Aron Baynes and Gary Neal both produced seven points each in limited minutes.
Bulls visit Wednesday
The Spurs will have two days off before resuming play where they’ll host the Chicago Bulls on Wednesday. The Bulls are the 5th seed in the Eastern Conference currently, and are 17-11 on the road.
Where San Antonio stands
Here are a few stats showing where the Spurs stand in certain categories in the NBA.
Season record: 47-14
Home Record: 24-3
Vs. teams below .500: 27-4
Vs. the Eastern Conference: 21-4
In wins by 10 or more points: 27-4
(Photo: Spurs.com/ D. Clarke Evans/NBAE/Getty)