It has been harder on Tim Duncan at certain moments this season to shine, but still, you don’t expect a 36 year old man to turn on the time machine so often and play like these are his MVP days every night. And still, without Tony Parker, it seems that’s just what the San Antonio Spurs need him to be doing.

Tim saved our butt. He obviously carried the whole night for us. He was great. It shouldn’t have to be that way. We’ve got to step up and play better. he playoffs are around the corner; 15 games to go and we are doing worse than at the beginning of the season. We’ve got to go by this slump and get our things together.

The Spurs are a bit hard on themselves, but that’s how you keep being excellent your goal for all these years. Tim Duncan scored 30 points, adding 12 rebounds, 4 assists and 5 blocks, leading the Spurs to a 119-113 win over the Cleveland Cavaliers, who didn’t even have Kyrie Irving playing for them.

While the Spurs’ defense wasn’t a thing of excellence on the day, it was Tim Duncan’s D that saved it for them. He blocked Tristan Thompson twice with the Spurs leading 113-109 and 54.9 seconds remaining; he blocked Dion Waiters later on, with 17.9 seconds left, and the Spurs leading 116-111.

We’ve been emphasizing for two and half weeks and it hasn’t done any good. I need to learn another language or I don’t know what. But, very disappointed in our defensive execution in the last two to three weeks after we raised our stock from being a middle of the road defensive team last year to one of the top two or three this year. Then in the last three weeks, we decide to toss it; that it’s not important. I’m really concerned and disappointed in that.

However you try to turn it, the fact that Tony Parker isn’t playing is affecting the Spurs, although differently on different nights. Some players, like Kawhi Leonard, scoring 24 points and adding 13 rebounds, seem to be a bit more concerned with offense or making up for what isn’t there without Parker or be a bit over indulgent on the help defense.

Offensively, it’s clear that Cory Joseph isn’t the answer, but Gary Neal hardly got a chance to play, Nacho de Colo was playing instead and Manu Ginobili’s form has been erraticthis season, adding 14 points and 10 assists in one of his better efforts recently, at least on offense.

It’s not been great and I don’t know why. I think the effort is there. We’re playing hard. We’re giving up too many straight drives right to the rim. We’ve got find a way to kind of counter that; find a way to clean that up. We’re moving the ball and it’s gone to the post a little more. That’s where I’m a little more effective. I still haven’t gotten my shot back the way I want it. I’m just trying to be aggressive.

This is Popovich’s way of keeping his team on the edge as the final stretch of the regular season arrives. Staying ahead of the Oklahoma City Thunder, even at the cost of playing Duncan a little bit too much, seems vital at this point. He’s had plenty of rest this season, and without Tony Parker, he isn’t likely to get a lot of it until the postseason begins.

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