It really shouldn’t be even remotely surprising that Tim Duncan is playing great at his old age. Not just the 23 points and 21 rebounds, but the game winning shot to give the San Antonio Spurs a 102-100 win over the Atlanta Hawks, writing yet another page in the book of respecting your elders in the NBA.
Picking up two losses against the Houston Rockets and the Oklahoma City Thunder haven’t changed anything for the Spurs, as expected. Spacing, ball movement, and usually a bench player that rises above what’s expected to give a hand with the win for the big three. Tony Parker scored 15 points and added 7 assists, Manu Ginobili scored 10 points with 7 assists on a bad shooting night from him, and Boris Diaw was the one who gave the scoring aid with 16 points and some quality defense.
The Atlanta Hawks, at 9-10, are one of the best teams in the Eastern Conference. It says something about the disparity between the two sides of the NBA, but this is a team that probably should be with a slightly better record. There is one huge problem for them – not just Kyle Korver being injured, but a bench that contributes almost nothing to the game. The Hawks were led by Al Horford , Jeff Teague and DeMarre Carroll, but anytime they had to move away from their starting players the Spurs went on a run.
Still, it came down to the final shot. The game tied at 100. A great screen from Marco Belinelli helped Duncan away from Horford with a screen. Carroll didn’t exactly realize what was going on, and stayed too close to his own player, while Duncan had just about enough time to take the step he needed to get comfortable, and hit the game winning shot, something we forgot he can do if the Spurs run the right kind of play for him. After a slow start this season, Duncan is averaging 16.6 points and 10.2 rebounds over the last five games.
Championship team? Titles aren’t won in November and December, but much later, as the cliche goes. Even losses to the Thunder and Houston aren’t going to shake the feeling that this team is headed in the right direction for another season is Popovich will be lucky enough to have everyone fit and healthy when it matters the most.
I feel a lot healthier now. For a while there, I was dealing with some stuff, but now my body is feeling good and I’m starting to get my legs underneath me.