I said throughout training camp and the preseason that Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili looked to be in the best shape I had seen them in the past three years.
The proof was certainly in the pudding in the Spurs 122-109 season-opening win on Wednesday night.
“I feel great. In the first half, I was a little too excited and tried to create so I had to settle down,” Parker said. “But it’s the first game of the season and you want to try to do good.”
Parker ended the game with 20 points, nine assists and three steals. If there was ever any doubt about it, I can tell you after watching that Tony Parker is officially back.
He seemed to have the same speed and elusive moves that made him impossible to guard in the 2007 NBA Finals.
While Parker was just one of six players in double figures for the Spurs, the Pacers went into the lockerroom after the first half with three of their own scoring in double digits.
The Spurs had been up by 10 points at one point in the first half, but Danny Granger, Roy Hibbert and Darren Collison kept chipping away at that lead and went into the half with only a one point deficit.
While the Spurs scored 66 points in the first half, the Spurs’ shaky defense kept the Pacers right there with them.
“Pop kind of made it clear at halftime, it was a very poor job. It’s good that we made a lot of shots,” Spurs guard Manu Ginbili said. “The good thing is that we stepped up in the second half, it was much better, 44 points compared to 65 in the first half so we improved.”
One of the players the Spurs clearly needed to step up their defense against was Danny Granger. Granger seemed to be hitting every shot and exited the first half with 19 points.
Granger would only score seven more points in the second half and the Spurs controlled the boards, got some of their second unit going and relied on their veteran leadership to open up another big lead in the fourth quarter.
George Hill, who had been struggling through a preseason shooting slump that saw him only make 23 percent of his shots, came alive at the right time.
It seems his slump may be over for now, after scoring 16 points and making 50 percent of his shots.
“With any player, once one goes in, you start to find the touch you need,” Hill said. “Once the first one went in, I knew if I could get a couple more open ones like that, my chances were better.”
10 of Hill’s points came in a crucial fourth quarter run that the Pacers just could not fight back from.
Tim Duncan, who faced stiff competition all night in third-year center Roy Hibbert, was also instrumental in the second half, scoring 13 of his 23 points.
“I started to get going but overall I really felt like I let the team down.” Hibbert said. “I let Tim get going in the fourth quarter.”
“I thought we did a much better job in the second half to slow them down a bit and continue our offense,” Duncan said. “It was a good win for us and a good start to the season. Obviously we have a lot of work to do throughout the season to get a little more consistent, but that’s what it’s all about.”
The Spurs will look to go 2-0 on Saturday night against the New Orleans Hornets.
• Bonner suffers ankle sprain
Matt Bonner suffered a sprained right ankle in the second half. X-rays were negative, but Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said it will keep him out a while.
He’ll be out for a while,” Popovich said. “I don’t think a long while, but he’ll miss some games.”
• Anderson’s debut
Spurs rookie James Anderson started his rookie season off on the right foot Wednesday night, scoring 10 points in 26 minutes. Anderson got some hefty minutes at backup small forward and spent about five more minutes on the floor than Richard Jefferson.
“He was great tonight. He had a little deer in the headlights look for a while, just getting used to the pace of the game and being out on the floor,” Duncan said. “As he calmed down and tried to get his rhythm, he hit some big shots. Defensively, he was really trying hard and he just has to get used to the speed of these guys.”
Line of the night
Tim Duncan – 23 points, 12 rebounds, four blocked shots, three assists, three steals.
While Tony Parker isn’t highly regarded in fantasy circles, his 20 point, nine assist and three steal night on 50 percent shooting from the field may give you another reason to take a second look at him. If James Anderson continues to play as many minutes as he did last night, and you’re in a deep league, he can be had easily to fill out one of your bottom of the roster spots.
Tweeting the game
@mg_indy – Spurs-Pacers hilites fail 2 make the cut on SportsCenter last night. But we WERE able to see clips of the Nets-Pistons classic. SMDH
@miseree1 – Well the Spurs did their job. Maybe now the Cowboys can do their job.
@ChaseReynolds – Great win last night #Spurs! James Anderson is legit, @DeJuan45 is a beast and Splitter comes back after Saturday. The forecast is bright!
Kens 5 – Opening Night Slideshow.
MySA – Why TD will be badly missed one of these days.
Indy Cornrows – Spurs take advantage of Pacers’ depth issues