Not too many eyes were turned to San Antonio where the Spurs had no problem beating the worst team in the NBA, even without their starting point guard dressing up. The Milwaukee Bucks are just that easy to play against.
The Spurs won 110-82, led by Patty Mills who scored 20 points off the bench, adding 7 assists. The Spurs finished with 28 assists on their 43 field goals, scoring 21 fast break points and in general enjoying freedom to do whatever they want against the Bucks, who are just waiting for the season to be over and for guys like John Henson and Giannis Antetokounmpo to develop a little more.
There are the kind of games that the Spurs’ depth is shown, as no one played more than 28 minutes but everyone had at least 15 minutes of basketball. Besides Mills, it was a strong performance for Nando de Colo who scored 13 points, Jeff Ayres with 13 and Macro Belinelli with 14 points in the starting lineup. Cory Joseph got the start instead of Parker, finishing with 12 points. Tim Duncan had an 11-13-2 night, with his no-look assist to Jeff Ayres probably being the highlight of the night around the NBA.
Ayres enjoyed a pretty assist from Manu Ginobili as well (7 assists), getting the ball after it went through Ekpe Udoh’s legs and dunking it. The Spurs shot 56.6% from the field against the no-defense of the Bucks, which struggled handling the ball movements. Spurs players kept finding themselves open on the perimeter, hitting 61.1% of their shots.
Ginobili didn’t score much, but it was his entrance that paved the way for the comfortable 28 point win. The Spurs and Bucks were tied at 12 when he first stepped on the floor, but five minutes later the Spurs had a 13-point lead, and it was pretty much over.
The main theme of the evening was having fun, especially after a tough home loss to the Portland Trail Blazers. Staying happy and playing enjoyable basketball was apparent on every player, with even Popovich finding it difficult not to smile.
Jeff Ayres – My confidence is going through the roof, man. You don’t see me out there? I’m having fun, dunking on people and stuff. It’s awesome. Life is good.
Gregg Popovich even let Malcolm Thomas have his debut (15 minutes, 2 points, 9 rebounds): I thought he was real active. He blocked two shots; you know we don’t block shots; that’s not part of our program … that’s a joke. here’s always things you can improve and do better. You look at the film, try to keep your standard and get ready for playoffs, but overall it was a good performance.
The Spurs needed this, before they host the Oklahoma City Thunder. Both teams are missing players (Spurs still without Danny Green), but there comes a point when losing too many games to direct rivals starts affecting the players. After their losses at home to the Rockets and the recent one to the Blazers, the Spurs need to start improving their record against the other top teams in the West – not just for the mental aspect, but home court advantage is crucial.