It doesn’t happen every night, but the San Antonio Spurs still have one of those night when the combination of Tim Duncan, Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili can’t be matches by anyone else in the league, not even the hottest team in the NBA, with the hottest player at the moment, James Harden.
So the Spurs couldn’t stop Harden (33 points), Parsons (24 points) and Jeremy Lin (21 points). The Rockets have no problem out running and out gunning teams in the East, but it’s a little bit different when you play Western Conference teams, and especially the San Antonio Spurs. The whole “old” aura is a tad misplaced, because the way Popovich has retooled the Spurs over the last few seasons has turned them into one of the more efficient offensive teams in the league.
It’s just different basketball than most of the NBA play. While the Rockets do play quick, up tempo offense, it’s very individual. James Harden pushing and pushing until teams fall over or grow tired of chasing him, Jeremy Lin and the guys on the wings. It’s hard to say when the Spurs allow 116 points that their defense won them the game, their fourth quarter pressure, forcing the Rockets to only 10-23 from the field, was probably what did the work.
On offense, it was the first time in over three years for the Spurs to have two players scoring more than 30 points. Tony Parker finished with 31 points, five rebounds and 10 assists as he had a very easy time to find space on the way to the basket while Jeremy Lin was guarding him. Tim Duncan finished with 30 points and 5 rebounds in a game that had a total of only 73 rebounds, with both teams shooting over 52% from the field.
Manu Ginobili, having a rough season at the age of 35, trying to rebound from all those injuries, probably had his best game of the season. he spent only 24 minutes on the floor, but finished with 23 points, hitting 5-9 from beyond the arc. It was hist highest scoring game of the season and his fourth with at least 20 points.
We got a group out there that did an excellent job of both sprinting back in transition, showing a crowd in full-court shell and getting guys off the 3-point line. But, other than that period, we were pretty poor in that respect, and that’s Houston’s game. That’s why they’re kicking everybody’s butt and scoring all these points.
Besides the big three, it was Danny Green who added the fourth wheel to the Spurs’ car. Maybe it was the connection he felt due to being included in that imposed rest by Gregg Popovich during a Thursday night that pissed off David Stern so much, but Green enjoyed the rhythm and the pace of the game, finishing with 17 points and 5 rebounds, hitting five from beyond the arc.
This is what both teams do well and better than most – run, run and score. The problem for the Rockets, and the hope for the San Antonio Spurs for their playoff success, is that they can find these moments when their defense actually steps up and manages to clamp down on teams.