“It is what it is, this is who it’s going to be,” said San Antonio Spurs’ Tim Duncan after his team earned its first victory of the season without injured guard Manu Ginobili.
The Spurs defeated the Golden State Warriors 101-95 on Monday in a come-from-behind victory led by Tony Parker, Richard Jefferson, Tim Duncan, and role players T.J. Ford and Danny Green. The Warriors left the court in bad shape with an early first quarter injury to Andris Biedrins, and a third quarter loss of guard Stephen Curry who re-aggravated his injured right ankle.
The first quarter saw Monta Ellis get hot as he started with 12 points while the Spurs welcomed back guard Gary Neal who made his reappearance in silver and black with 5:44 remaining in the first quarter. The Warriors ended the quarter with a 26-20 lead.
By the time halftime came, it looked like the Spurs might be seeing a repeat of the Rockets and Timberwolves losses as Ellis and Curry shot a combined 15-of-19 from the field in the first half, and had 38 of the Warriors’ 53 points. The Warriors took a 53-45 lead into halftime shooting 56% through two quarters.
Richard Jefferson took command in the third quarter with eight points and with 2:56 remaining in the game, Curry rebounded a ball and re-injured his right ankle. The Spurs’ defense made improvements as the Warriors only made eight of their 21 shots; the Spurs trailed 75-70 going into the final quarter.
The final quarter was all about a line-up adjustment and the fire Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich brought into the game. He used a line-up of Ford, Parker, Green, Jefferson, and Duncan to close out the game with speed and defense, while also leading the charge with fierce encouragement for the team to attack. The group did their part as they held the Warriors to 35% shooting in the quarter and even got the run-and-gun offense going with 31-points in the quarter.
“He was pretty fired up tonight,” said Duncan of Popovich’s enthusiasm after the game, “it was great to see.”
With the win, the Spurs move to 4-2 on the season, but more importantly, they have confidence that they can march on without Ginobili.
“We have the mentality that we’re going to be alright,” said Jefferson after game, “everyone has to step up.”
The Spurs will host their division rivals and defending NBA Champions, the Dallas Mavericks Thursday in another back-to-back game.
Analyzing the Win
- With Ginobili out, the Spurs are learning that it’s going to be a struggle to score points at times as the team couldn’t really get it going until the 31-point fourth quarter. The defense made improvements after halftime by holding the Warriors to less than 25 points in each of the third and fourth quarters, while the Warriors’ shooting percentages also began to drop.
- After it looked like he was beginning to fade, Parker responded as the leading scorer for the Spurs with 21 points and eight assists, ten of his points came in the fourth quarter. Coach Popovich knew the team would need more from Parker with the absence of Ginobili, and he hopes Parker continues to stay aggressive. “He’s a great player,” said Popovich after the game “and when he’s in attack mode, he’s an even better player.”
- Before the game, Popovich said the pressure isn’t on the younger players to produce, but more himself, Duncan, Parker, and Jefferson. The group responded with Parker leading the team in scoring, Jefferson scoring 17 points himself, and Duncan finishing with 15 points and 11 rebounds.
- Jefferson was on fire from behind the arc as he shot 5-of-5, after the game, Parker elaborated on Jefferson’s shooting. “He needs to stop shooting two’s,” said Parker, “I told Richard to just shoot three’s. He was 5-for-5 tonight”
- Monta Ellis had 38 points for the Warriors by shooting 50% from the field. Though in the fourth quarter, Green’s length and defense impacted the scorer and helped to slow him down.
- In his first night starting, Anderson scored five points on 2-of-6 shooting.
- Gary Neal notched 16 minutes of game time and produced seven points off of the bench and shot 1-of-3 from behind the arc. “We’re glad to have him back, we need him,” said Duncan after the game regarding Neal’s return.
- Ford and Green were monsters in the second half as Ford scored nine points, and had eight assists, while Green scored eight points and had two blocks, one on Ellis. “TJ was fantastic,” said Popovich after the game, “Danny Green was fantastic. The two of them, they gave us the energy to get that ball game.”
With the team needing more offense than defense from the wing, rookie Kawhi Leonard was limited to just eight minutes in the game. He scored two points and grabbed two rebounds while shooting 50% from the field in limited action. It seems that Leonard’s minutes will come as the opponent comes. The Warriors were run through the guards, so the Spurs needed Parker, Green, and Ford more than Anderson and Leonard.