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NBA@2: Spurs Choose Duncan Over Highlight Reel
Posted By Bill Ingram On May 16, 2012 @ 2:00 pm In All,Main Page,NBA | No Comments
Six of NBA.com’s top ten plays from Tuesday night involved the game between the San Antonio Spurs and Los Angeles Clippers, but not one showed Spurs star Tim Duncan scoring any of his 26 points. In fact, the only play involving Duncan at all was one in which Kenyon Martin swept over from the weak side to send a Duncan shot into the stands. The Clippers may have gotten all of the highlight reel love, but the Spurs walked away with a relatively easy 108-92 win.
That’s just fine with Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich.
“Tim was solid, as usual,” Popovich said after the game. “He’s played like that all year long. He’s not doing anything that will be on the highlight film for TV, but highlight film for coaches, possibly. Just being solid, making a great pass, playing the defense that he did, rebounding. He’s the anchor.”
Indeed, Clippers All-Star Blake Griffin was the subject of the majority of last night’s highlight reel, but Duncan outplayed him in every facet of the game. Griffin had a good showing, scoring 15 points and grabbing nine rebounds, but the elder statesman in white and black was hands-down the better player overall. Duncan poured in 26 points, grabbed 10 boards, blocked two shots and came up with two steals. Every time the Clippers tried to make a run, Duncan answered with a big shot, a big defensive play or a pass that led to an open three.
As usual, Duncan deflected any talk about his own stellar game, deftly deferring to the team as a whole.
“Just like we said before the game, we knew it was going to take awhile to knock that rust off and we hoped things would go well early on and it did,” Duncan said. “I missed some shots early and then I got a couple to go. My teammates moved the ball really well and I got a couple layups.”
Granted, Griffin was not 100 percent, telling HOOPSWORLD he felt like he was probably 80 percent on his injured knee before the game started. Still, the savvy veteran got the best of the NBA’s Western Conference poster child by playing old-school, grounded basketball in the least flashy way possible.
It couldn’t have come at a better time, either, as Tony Parker went just 1-for-9 and scoring a meager seven points to go with 11 assists. It also helped that Manu Ginobili, who obviously benefited from the lay-off between series, was as energized as he’s been all season. Ginobili came off the bench to pour in 22 points in just 26 minutes.
After the first period ended in a 29-all tie, the Spurs won all three remaining quarters with typical lock-down defense, dominant board work and smart, determined play on the offensive end.
“We weren’t able to slow them down,” Clippers head coach Vinny Del Negro said. “The tempo was in their favor a lot. We missed a lot of easy shots, which got them out in the open court. I thought in the beginning of the game we did a good job in terms of our tempo a little bit. We were scoring the basketball well. At the end of the half we missed a couple of easy shots and that gave them some rhythm. But we can’t expect to get outrebounded like that and then turn the ball over like that against San Antonio and give them that many extra opportunities. They obviously shot the ball well. We have to do a better job with a sense of urgency getting out to shooters. We need to do a better job at our pick-and-roll coverages, so we can get back and bump our wings out. We have to do a better job at controlling the glass and controlling the turnovers and making plays when we have opportunities.”
While Del Negro is undoubtedly right, understanding how to beat the Spurs and actually beating them are two different things. San Antonio looks like a team with a destiny, and that destiny will likely go untested until Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook and the Oklahoma City Thunder come calling.
Meet NBA Draft Prospect Robert Sacre
Gonzaga center Robert Sacre is hoping to carve out a niche for himself in the NBA after enjoying success in Canada and at Gonzaga. He talks with HOOPSWORLD about understanding what his role is, his willingness to begin his career as a backup center and then challenge to start, his strength coming into the draft process and more. Sacre is preparing for the arduous draft process at IMG Academies, which is where we caught up with him.
The Eleventh Pick In the 2012 NBA Draft
If the NBA Draft Lottery goes as the odds say they should (which it rarely does), the Portland Trail Blazers should have their second crack at the draft board with the eleventh overall pick in this summer’s NBA draft. Assuming they actually do land the that pick, which player best fits their needs?
HOOPSWORLD’s Mock Draft team is somewhat divided, with one thinking the Blazers should take a second center – assuming they took one with their first pick – and the others thinking Portland will look for a Brandon Roy replacement at two-guard. The latter makes a bit more sense if Tyler Zeller is the best center left on the board at 11, so let’s take a look at a shooting guard who might fit the bill in Portland.
All due respect to Wes Matthews, who says he will play with the Blazers’ summer league team in an effort to step up his game, but Portland is still significantly lacking at the shooting guard spot in the wake of Roy’s premature retirement. The best shooting guard in this draft class – Florida’s Bradley Beal – will likely be long gone by pick #11, so Portland’s best choice might be UConn’s Jeremy Lamb.
Lamb certainly benefited greatly from playing alongside Kemba Walker last season, and while his backcourt help was significantly less talented this year, Walker’s departure to the NBA did allow Lamb to highlight his vast array of offensive talent this season. He still scored the majority of his points on spot-ups, where he ranked in the 81st percentile, but that was far from being his only weapon. He was also in the 81st percentile in transition, here he got 17 percent of his points, 78th percentile in scoring off screens, and 91st percentile when cutting to the basket. He was just 50th percentile in isolation, but that was the only real weak spot in his offensive game.
Lamb was also strong on the defensive end of the floor, where he was called upon to defend spot-up shooters 41 percent of the time and he ranked in the 68th percentile in that category. He was at his best when fighting through screens, where he ranked in the 84th percentile. Given how prominent the screen-roll is in the NBA, that should help his stock. He wasn’t quite as good against the pick-and-roll, ranking in the 51st percentile, but he was pretty good at stopping isolations, ranking in the 60th percentile.
The Blazers definitely need help in transition, where they ranked 28th in the NBA this season, and Lamb would fit right in with their spot-up game, where they got 12 percent of their points and ranked second in the league. Portland’s biggest weakness defensively was in getting to spot-up shooters, so there’s an area where Lamb would help as well.
Comparing Lamb to Roy would be utterly unfair, and create an unrealistic expectation, but he is the kind of player who could help the Blazers in their effort to recover from the loss of the best shooting guard to wear a Blazers uniform since Clyde Drexler.
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