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28 February 2005

Lebron, Zydrunas and Pray for Rain

San Antonio 94 @ Cleveland 92

(I'm a little behind on my game reports. I'll come in over the weekend and catch up.)

So I get home around 6 PM PT and sit down to watch the TiVoed game. Matty da Blade, long time San Antonio resident, calls about thirty minutes later.

da Blade: "I know you TiVoed the game, so I won't talk about that."
Me: "Yeah, I'm only half way through the second quarter."
da Blade: "Can I ask you an NBA rules question?"
Me: "Uhh. OK."

Matty procedes to describe the Timmeh goaltending/tip-in situation at the end of the game. He leaves out names and teams and circumstances such as score and time remaining, but I still spent the rest of the game waiting for an air-balled three. I also figured the game had to be a close one; Matty usually only calls when the Spurs aren't playing well-- so we've been talking a lot lately.

Zydrunas absolutely torched the Spurs the first quarter. He had 13 points and drew two fouls from Duncan. He also shut down Duncan for the first twelve minutes. I was surprised they had Z on Tim; I figured they would want to shield him from foul trouble.

Nazr Mohammed made his Spurs debut in the first quarter; he was actually the first guy off the bench (before Tim drew his second foul). His first contribution was a nice, athletic rebound over a couple of offenders. He had some trouble on defense which I expected. The Spurs don't really jump the pick and roll, but they always have the big man step out to cut off penetration. At first Nazr laid back in the paint, which led to Bron gaining the elbow and breaking down the D. After a time out Nazr came out and played the P&R a little better, but this time he was coming out too soon and too far away from the Spur being picked, leading to more penetration. The effort was definitely there, though.

And the guy was definitely nervous. He airballed his first free throw despite being a 64% career free throw shooter. He also forced a couple of turn around jumpers. His best moment of the night was a fairly strong finish at the basket off a pick and roll. He also had a nice back flash which earned him a layup; or maybe it was free throws; hell maybe it was nachos, I don't remember. Overall an entirely acceptable debut-- 6 PTS and 6 REB in 16 minutes.

The Spurs just cannot seem to get their big three all going in the same game, forcing Tony Parker to pick up the slack. The Wee Frenchman had 19 PTS on 17 POSS, 8 REB and 10 A. He broke down the defense repeatedly and seemingly at will. I am pretty sure all of his buckets came in the paint; brought tons of energy all night.

Ginobili had another off night. He missed some big FT down the stretch but still managed 17 PTS on 15 POSS. He also got stripped on two consecutive possessions in the fourth quarter. He also had another Manu Exclusive-- a play only he would think to do. With a couple of minutes to go in the game Parker threw Nobili a back door lob. The ball was a little too far from the basket, so Nobili caught the ball and, while still in the air, threw an overhead bounce pass to Bruce Bowen who nailed a three in the corner. He makes me either laugh or shake my head in amazement every game.

Duncan was in foul trouble for most of the game. He started weakly, 0 for 7, but he hit 9 of his last 10 shots, including all 5 attempts in the fourth.

The fourth ended in a deluge of crappy play. First, Jeff McInnis airballs a wide open three. The Spurs, up by four with a chance to put the game away, ended up with the ball in Bowen's hands with 3 seconds on the shot clock. That's never good. Airball --> shot clock violation. Duncan had the ball wide open at the top of the key with about 6 on the clock but he passed up the shot. I think his jersey wasn't tucked in right or something.

So the Cavs are down four with less than a minute left. Bruce Bowen, who played phenomenal defense all night (Bron was 6-22), managed to force the Super Freak to pass the ball. McInnis wound up shooting another airball from three. However, for reasons yet undetermined, Duncan got a hand on the ball and tipped it in. The refs called goaltending but the ball was obviously WAY short (I think Bowen may have gotten a hand on it). Duncan argued that the basket should count for two points instead of three, but the refs poo-pooed that immediately. Snow fouls Nobili right away and he's forced to shoot free throws while Pop is trying to figure out what the refs called vs. what they should have called and with Duncan yammering away at the refs the whole time. He misses both.

Timeout Cleveland.

Paul Silas' master plan was to run Lebron off a Z screen down low. Z sets a good screen on Bowen, forcing to Rasho to step out to challenge a possible lead-taking three pointer. Unfortunately Bowen went with him, leaving a 7'-4" man wide open 6 inches from the basket. Oops. My bad dawg. Tie game.

Timeout Spurses.

Of course I'm wondering if the Spurs can botch another play at the end of the game. Parker has the ball at the top of the key, I'm saying "Wait, wait!," petrified he'll leave time on the clock. Duncan sets a good pick, forcing Z to pop out to stop Parker. McInnis falls down, leaving Duncan wide open. He gets the ball, pauses, and nails the 18-footer as the time expired. Game. Bitches.

Man, Cleveland has a bunch of shitty players. Z's darn good and Gooden's a good rebounder and garbage man. Varejao's a better version of Gooden, but he's hurt. That's all they got.

Nobody else would even crack the Spurs rotation. McInnis is especially bad. He's always whining about something. After he peeled himself off the court at the end of the game he was grabbing his leg like the pick injured him. Whatever. Then, after the game, he said he didn't know the pick was coming. Uh? Yeah, the Spurs never run pick and roll at the top of the key. And don't get me started about Eric Snow.

Seriously, how many good point guards are left in the league? Point guards are supposed to distribute the ball, right? Run the offense? Has a team ever won with the PG as their best player?

I hereby submit that if you shoot more than 8 shots a game with under a 45% FG% you are NOT a point guard unless you average more than 9 assists a game. So, that leaves us with Marbury, Nash, Wade, Parker, Bibby, Miller, Payton, Terry, Udrih and Palacio. That's the list.

That reminds me. I watched the first hour of the Knicks vs. Pacers game on Saturday. I was curious to see how Rose would do (he played well in 9 minutes). It's funny; the things you notice after watching only Spurs games for a while. For example, on two consecutive possessions, Jamal Crawford had the ball 20 feet from the basket with about 15 seconds on the shot clock. He proceeded to shake his head around and dribble the ball through his legs about four times. He wasn't really going anywhere-- just sort of messing around. After practicing his mix tape moves he hoisted up a couple of 20 footers.

HAHAHAHAHAHA.

The Spurs don't do that shit. Don't get me wrong; I like the fancy dribbling and I know who The Professor is, but, uh, I'd rather see my team win. And I'll let you in on a little secret: you don't win by hoisting contested twenty footers. Especially when the person shooting the ball SHOOT LESS THAN 40% FROM THE FIELD. Jesus Christ on a skateboard! Why won't someone reign him in? You think Pop would stand for that shit?

Why does this crap drive me so crazy?

The Chris Webber Trade

Note: I started this entry on Thursday... the Malik Rose trade hit while I was writing this, forcing the Webber trade to the back burner.

If you've been reading this blog since its inception, you know my feelings on Chris Webber (scroll down to "Rick Adelman..."). You also know that I'm doing a study to determine his ineptitude. Lastly, you know that I was hoping he would get traded to the Knicks. So, when he got traded last night to Philly, I felt obligated to write something.

The components of the trade:

Philly gets

Chris Webber
Michael Bradley
Matt Barnes

Sacramento gets

Corliss Williamson
Brian Skinner
Kenny Thomas

I first want to address why the Kings would want to trade Webber. The first two reasons are obvious and known to most fans:

1. He will make 62.16 million dollars over the next three seasons.
2. He has a very bad knee; to the point he cannot run full speed or move laterally with any sort of quickness.

The third reason is less obvious; in fact, 98% of NBA fans will scoff at it, and some of those will get offended by the notion that:

3. The Kings are a better team without Chris Webber.

How is this possible? Chris Webber is a five time All Star who is averaging 21 PPG, 9.7 RPG, 1.5 SPG and 5.5 APG! He's gotten 3 or 4 triple doubles in his last 5 or 6 games!

Let me first address the above stats. The main problem with traditional stats is that they basically entirely ignore defense. Rebounds, steals and block are all parts of a larger picture. Small parts, at that. Steals do not describe how many open looks or easy baskets given up when an attempted steal goes awry. Blocks do no include the number of goal tends or fouls committed when going for the blocked shot. Rebounds are largely a function of your position and how many minutes you play a game.

The traditional offensive stats are better but still lacking. A player's PPG does not give a good picture of how good an offensive player he is. Allow a simple illustration:

Let's say Sammy Sosa gets five plate appearances in a game, and that for each plate appearance the bases are loaded. If he ends the game with five RBIs, how do you rate his performance? Not knowing the circumstances you might think he had a great game, but given the context it is clear he had an average one at best.

Last night a headline on ESPN.com stated that Antoine Walker had 33 points to lead the Celtics to victory. Woah, that's a lot of points. But, see, he had to take 32 shots to get those points. 33 points on 32 shots is fucking awful. It gets even worse when you consider he had 10 free throws attempts. Basically, it took him 36 possessions to get 33 points. Whore end us.

Back to Webber. He's a volume scorer. Always has been. He produces about 1.04 (ignoring TOs, S and OFFREB) points per possession. He's still a good passer for a big man and a slightly above average rebounder. But, in the context of the Kings, he was a huge drag. Don't believe me? Check it. What you see there are plus/minus stats. They're real simple. Let's say Webber plays the entire first half. The half time score is Webber's team 50 other team 45. Let's say he get's a labial cramp and sits the entire second half and the final score for the game is Webber's team 100 and 85. Webber's +/- for the game is -5. 82games.com keeps track of that for the entire season. +/- is a very good way to see how important a player is to a team. As you can see, the Kings are a better team when Webber is on the bench. It's not surprising to me at all. When he's on the bench he can't force up 20 footers-- those shots go to better offensive players like Bibby, Stojakovic or Miller.

Like many, I was surprised that the Kings didn't go after some expiring contracts for Webber. However, I think a lot of people are generalizing too much when they say the Kings aren't benefitting from a salary perspective.

First off, all three contracts are much more tradeable than Webber's (though they're all "bad"). Secondly, the Kings are paying roughly the same amount for three players instead of one. That's an obvious point, but one that still needs to be made. The Kings did add depth. Let's look at the Kings' salary gains/losses due to the trade in a year by year format:

05/06 -$2.08 million
06/07 -$2.10 million
07/08 -$15 million
08/09 +$7.9 million
09/10 +$8.6 million

Those are the raw numbers. Sacramento basically spread out their salary woes-- sorta like getting a home equity loan. A year from now, when Webber is still limping around and Philly is still a .500 team this trade is going to look a lot better from the Kings perspective.

I do think Philly is a little better after this trade. For this season, anyway. Unlike Sacto, Philly doesn't have a lot of good offensive options. However, this trade doesn't make Philly contenders. They won't make it out of the first round. If anything, it ensures their mediocrity for years to come.

26 February 2005

More Thoughts on the Malik Rose Trade

First off, I want to correct some salary errors in my last post. I get all my salary information from the wonderful HoopsHype. As far as I know, it is the only site that provides tabulated salary data.

From reading numerous articles regarding the trade I have determined that the salary data posted is missing the last year of Malik Rose's contract. Apparently Malik had a player option which he exercised a while back. The option, worth about $7.7 million, included a $3 million trade kicker which the Spurs paid upon trading Malik.

So the Spurs saved $14.2 + $7.7 - $3 = $18.9 million, and Malik will be 34 when the contract runs out. This, of course, makes the trade even better from the Spurs prospective.

But I am not going to rehash all that. All day Thursday I read people bemoaning this trade on spurstalk.com, and yesterday afternoon I watched a clip of Malik saying goodbye to San Antonio, the Spurs and his teammates. The only thing that prevented me from crying was the fact that Malik rarely looked into the camera. I liked Malik (who didn't?), and I'm going to miss him. The trade has me happy and sad at the same time. "I am large and contain multitudes."

I have never doubted Malik's work ethic, attitude or desire to win. From all accounts he's a good teammate, a good presence in the locker room and a willing and generous participant in the San Antonio community.

But none of that changes the fact that Malik's on the court contributions do not match his salary; and the discrepancy will most likely grow as het gets older (and his contract gets bigger). None of the above changes that the Spurs now have much more financial flexibility. No, the Spurs will not be under the salary cap in the forseaable future, which is $43.87 million this year. However, moving Malik's salary will help the team avoid the dollar for dollar luxury tax. And don't forget, teams can exceed the salary cap to sign its own players. That $7 million designated for Malik can now go to someone the Spurs need.

Despite my desire to see Malik stay a Spur, I can still see past that and realize the very obvious benefits of this trade. To effectively evaluate the ramifications of any set of events one must be able to discount irrelevant emotion. Some people call this "thinking rationally" or "being logical." To me, it's simply "not being stupid."

Call me crazy, but I love the team more than any individual player. I prefer team success over individual success.

If you want to bemoan the trade because Malik is your favorite player, that's fine. Maybe you dislike this trade because you're afraid Malik will move his restaurants out of San Antonio. Maybe you're stalking the unmarried Malik Rose and this will make things more difficult. I understand all that. That's your prerogative.

But don't try to justify those emotions with baseless claims; don't try to tell me that this is somehow a bad trade, or that the Spurs are somehow now less likely to win the title. Don't give me this crap that Malik is a better player than Nazr (or Rasho, or Horry or...). Don't fucking tell me the sky is green. It makes you look like a damned fool.

24 February 2005

God Bless Isiah!

Note I: I just read an AP article that has the Spurs giving up 2 first round picks. I'm making the appropriate changes below.

Note II: There is an error below in the salary figures. I am going to correct it in a new post.

It was tough choosing between that title and "There's a Sucker Born Every Minute."

Chad Ford is reporting the following:

New York Knicks get:

Malik Rose
Phoenix 2005 1st round draft pick
Spurs 2006 1st round draft pick

San Antonio Spurs get:

Nazr Mohammed
Jamison Brewer

The key player details:

Malik has a contract worth $19.7 million over the next three years.
Nazr has a contract worth $5.5 million next year.
Jamison Brewer is a free agent at the end of the season.

Unbelievable. The Spurs just cut $14.2 million in salary. They had to give up two first round draft picks, but considering they're Spurs and Suns picks, it is going to be at the bottom of the draft. Giving up the rights to the ~28th best player in the draft is no big deal in my book. The Spurs already have the rights to 4-5 players over seas-- they'll have little room on the roster in the coming years and this way they don't have to pay guaranteed money to a first round pick. In fact, I would bet the Spurs wanted to get rid of the pick. Also, the next CBA will likely contain an age limit of 20 years old. This means the next couple of drafts are going to be extremely weak; the next Dwight Howard will have to wait until 2007.

So, not only did the Spurs drop tons of salary, they got that extra big body in return. Nazr ain't no scrub folks. 11 PPG, 8 RPG and 1.0 BPG in only 28 MPG. That's a rebound rate of 13.7P48MIN which is good for 15TH in the entire league. And he shoots 51% from the field and 71% from the line. And he's 6'-10" and 250 AND he's only 27. AND he's only signed through next year.

He seems like a great fit for the Spurs... exactly what they needed. I simply cannot believe it. Isiah Thomas has proven, once and for all, that he's a colossal idiot and has absolutely no idea what he's doing.

23 February 2005

Potpourri

-So yesterday I spent a couple hundred words explaining why Mourning will have little impact on the Heat. Shaq then promptly injures his knee. He'll probably sit out a couple of weeks just to damage my credibility. He's like that.

-Thanks to NBA League Pass, I now know that Wang Zhi-Zhi's nickname is "The Dodger." Speaking of Wang, he played phenomenally in Shaq's absence. 5-6 shooting, a couple of steals, decent team defense. He even used two spin moves and an up and under; drove baseline a couple of times, too. But I don't think he could block me out.

-I cannot wait for the Sonics to ruin their future. You can smell it in the air around here. They're going to trade Radmanovic for somebody like Chris Wilcox. They'll sign Ray Allen to a ridiculous contract and probably go after Eddy Curry, who averages less RBP48M than Paul Pierce. They'll keep Flip Murray but let Antonio Daniels go. Ray Ray's going to be 30 before the next season starts. 30 year old shooting guards not named Michael Jordan do not lead their teams deep into the playoffs. He's just another volume scorer who's just an adequate defender. A poor man's Reggie Miller. But he has huge calf-muscles. Grotesque even. I'll give him that.

-Isaiaiaiaih wants Chris Webber. Please God, make this happen. And then let them sign Antoine Walker in the offseason. I'm dizzy just thinking about it.

-How is Yao Ming only averaging less than 1 APG; he had 5 in the All Star Game. He's 24, shooting 55% and 4th in the NBA in PPS. Yet people make him out to be a disappointment. I don't get it.

-Lebron's +/- is 8.0. Ilgauskas' is 6.3. That's, uhh, interesting.

-Is there an unspoken rule that websites for shoe companies have to be unnavigable? Nike.com is a train-wreck. It takes about ten seconds to load each page and if you hit the back button it takes you back to the splash page. Ugh.

-Timmeh's got some new shoes coming out. Ginobili is now wearing Air Max Ballers, which I don't think you can buy yet. He used to wear those Huarache things. I would link a picture, but Nike.com was designed by retarded space monkeys.

-About 12 different people have come to this site looking for pictures of Manu's wife. Hmm. That gives me an idea. Lindsay Lohan boobs breasts boob breast nipple nipples melon melons knocker knockers tits tit titties tittie titty jug jugs babonga babongas ta-ta ta-tas.

22 February 2005

Free Michael Doleac!

San Antonio 92 @ Miami 96

"We're doomed! DOOMED I say! Miami beat the Spurs and they're going to add Alonzo Mourning which makes them ten times better than they are now!"

That's the sort of stuff I read on various message boards after the Spurs lost in Miami. Sports fans love to overreact to singular events and overestimate the contributions of single players. This is probably due to the fact that most sports fans are stupid. But then again, my First Rule is "People are dumb." That's just the way it is. Some things will never change. That's just the way it is it is it is...

The Spurs were playing on the road against arguably the best team in the Eastern Conference. They shot 39% and allowed the other team to shoot 52%. Duncan was nursing three different injuries and played poorly. Given those parameters, you would expect the Spurs to lose by double digits, but the Spurs only lost by 4.

Am I discounting the results of this game entirely? No. Am I worried about playing the Heat in the finals? Yeah, a little. But I am more worried about playing Detroit.

Over a seven game series those shooting percentages will regress towards the mean. And I don't see Miami getting passed Detroit anyway. Kobe, Shaq and some scrubs got annihilated against the Pistons last year. You're telling me that Wade, Shaq and some more scrubs are that much better than last year's Lakers? Whatever.

As for Mourning, people need to simmer the hell down. First off, he's 35 years old. Secondly, he's got one good kidney. He's not going to be playing 30 minutes a game for the Heat. Thirdly, is he really all that much better than what the Heat already got? Yeah, I said that.

I'll admit he's a better defender than Haslem, Doleac or Laettner. But he's no longer the offensive threat he used to be. He's basically a 45-46% shooter now, which is worse than Haslem (53%) and Doleac (48%). If the Heat play him with Shaq he's going to be a drag on the offensive end. Teams will not (well, they should not) respect his outside shot. And he's certainly not going to get any touches on the block while Shaq's in the game. As for rebounding, he's really no better than Haslem-- they both average about 13 RP48M.

From what I can tell, the Heat gain a better backup center than Doleac. Big deal. In the playoffs Shaq is going to play 38 minutes a night anyway, reducing any impact Mourning has.

20 February 2005

Yahoo > Google

If you're looking for my piece about Kevin Garnett's TNT interview, go here.

I strictly use Google for all my searching needs. I also use their e-mail service and their new mapping interface is off the chizzle. But now that I have a small, inconsequential website my opinion has changed somewhat.

If you use Google to search for "San Antonio Spurs blog" (without quotes), you won't find my site on the first ten pages of links. Originally I was on the 42nd page; later I found myself on the 19th page. I realize the process is automated and takes time etc., but, uh, this is basically the only Spurs blog out there.

Yahoo, on the other hand, has my blog as the second link under the same search. Another positive aspect about Yahoo is that it seems they update their listings quite often. I wrote my Garnett piece late Thursday night. About 24 hours later my blog got a visit from someone searching for "kevin garnett interview john thompson" at Yahoo. Since then I've gotten 30 additional visits due to a similar search.

That's pretty cool. The thought that I have played a part in (rightfully) tarnishing the reputations of Sprewell and Cassell brings a tear to my eye.

17 February 2005

This NEEDS to be Said

During tonights NBA coverage TNT previewed an interview between John Thompson and Kevin Garnett. In the snippet shown Thompson asks The Big Ticket if he's banged up. Garnett says that he is but it doesn't matter, he has to play. Thompson then follows up with "What's driving you?" Garnett replies "I'm losing, man. I'm losing." And then something alarming happens. Tears start welling up in Garnett's eyes and he motions to the camera to stop filming.

At this point I'm getting emotional-- some sadness but mostly anger. I need to get some things out in the open, things that no sportswriter has the guts to write, and I'm going to be as blunt as possible. Let us begin. *Deep breath.*

1. To Latrell Sprewell: GO FUCK YOURSELF.

First off, everyone knows you choked P.J. Carlesimo, The Man of a Thousand Groupies and currently head assistant coach with the Spurs. I don't care; hell, even Wayne Brady nearly had to choke a bitch once. I'm not holding that against you. But, then again, there's everything else.

"Why would I want to help them win a title? They're not doing anything for me. I'm at risk. I have a lot of risk here. I got my family to feed. Anything could happen."

That's what Spree said when he was lobbying for a contract extension this fall. He's making $15 million this season and the Wolves offered him $27-30 million for three years during which he would be 35-37 years old. He thought the offer insulting and said the above.

Are we, as fans, really supposed to believe this shit? $10 million a year isn't enough to feed your family? It reminds me of when Barry Bonds said he didn't know he was using steroids. Does he think people are that fucking dumb? And yet no sportswriter is willing to go out there and tell him, in an eloquent manner, to go fuck himself. Stop beating around the bush, grab some sack and print the headline "Barry Bonds is a Large-Headed Liar."

And this was after Garnett took a large pay cut to allow the Wolves to sign players around him.

On top of that, Spree is playing like absolute ass this season. 13 PPG on 12 FGA. That's awful. 2.6 REB, 2.2 APG and 1.6 TOPG. He's so bad that the Wolves are actually better when he's off the court. I don't know if his age has caught up to him or if he's just mailing it in. Either way, he should be apologizing every day for sucking while getting paid ~$177 000 a game. But no, Spree's not done.

He and Sam Cassell thought they should have the same amount of input that Garnett has. They also were bothered that Flip Saunders gave Garnett special treatment. Which leads to:

2. To Sam Cassell: GO FUCK YOURSELF, TOO.

Charles Barkley is the one NBA analyst who actually voices his opinion; he doesn't just mindlessly put cliches together. I don't know exactly what he said, but he basically called out Cassell and Sprewell and said they needed to play better. Here's what Cassell had to say:

"Charles was a helluva ballplayer when he played the game. I played against Charles," Cassell said Monday. "But is he an ultimate winner? No. He didn't win. He won some games, but he didn't win."

So, according to Gollum's feeble little mind, if you've won an NBA title you cannot be reproached by players who haven't won an NBA title (Cassell won titles his first two years in the league with the Rockets). Let's get a couple things straight here Sammy:

-You cannot hold Barkley's jock, OK? Do you actually believe that if Barkley was on those Houston squads instead of you that they wouldn't have won those two championships?

-You do realize that your first year there were six other Rockets that scored more points than you? That you only played 22 minutes a game during the playoffs? That some guy named Olajuwon played on your team?

-Let me tell Sammy boy, you certainly picked it up that second year! But, as I am sure you remember, the Rockets added another HOFer that year in Clyde Drexler, so you still finished seventh in scoring (but you beat out Mario Elie!). And you, again, only played 22 minutes per game in the playoffs. Oh, and Olajuwon was still there. I know what you're thinking Smeagol; you're remembering those big shots you hit. And you did hit some big shots for the Rockets. I freely admit that. But Jaren freaking Jackson hit some big shots for the Spurs during their first title run but you don't hear him mouthing off, do you?

To be quite frank, Michael Jordan had more to do with the Rockets winning those titles than you did. So shut your fucking fish-hole and stop playing like ass.

3. To Kevin Garnett: I'm sorry.

This is where I start really getting angry. Garnett is the best player in the NBA, and he has been for about three years now. He does everything: scores, rebounds, shoots a high percentage, blocks shots, racks up the assists, plays good team and individual defense. All while playing huge minutes and missing 3 games in the past 5+ years. And he plays his heart out every single night. I have never seen him take a night off.

And yet idiots similar to Cassell knocked him for not getting past the first round. In 02-03 the Wolves lost to the Lakers in 6 games. Here are Garnett's numbers from that series:

27.0 PPG
51.4% FGP
15.7 RPG
5.2 APG
1.7 SPG
1.7 BPG

And people have the audacity to knock Garnett for not getting past the first round? What the fuck else do they expect him to do? I simply cannot get over the sheer stupidity of people.

In 03-04 Garnett finally gets some decent players around him and gets to the Western Conference Finals. And Cassell and Spree want to take credit for that? Are you fucking kidding me? The only credit they deserve is for being better than freaking Kendall Gill and Anthony Peeler-- those are the guys they replaced. Congratulations guys, last year you weren't bad enough to prevent Garnett from getting past the first round. Now go sail your yachts and spin your rims and feed your families.

And Garnett takes the blame, to the point of crying on national television. He's stuck with two washed-up guys mailing it in, a shooter who cannot defend or rebound and has trouble creating his own shot in Szczerbiak, a back up shoot first PG who's shooting 38%, a 22 year old 6'-10" stick (Griffin) playing center because Olowokandi is a fucking joke and a defense-only whiner in Hassell (who got his 27 million dollar contract because KG lobbied for him). And Fred Hoiberg. Let's not forget Fred.

It's just wrong. Garnett should not be stuck on a team like this, with players like this. He deserves better. He's earned better. He's due at least one year on a team with players that make his job easier. Players as unselfish as he is. Players that bring it every night. Players that understand their role and don't fucking whine about contracts or playing time or who's getting how many shots.

He deserves one year with the Spurs. And I don't say that because the Spurs are my team, or because adding Garnett to the Spurs would make them the best team in the history of the NBA. I just want to see him in that type of basketball environment. It would be so easy for him. He wouldn't have to worry about doing everything. Run the court, play defense, hit the boards, share the post with Duncan.

He could just play. Enjoy the game he loves. Maybe even smile a bit.

Sellout!

That's right. I have officially sold out-- my blog now has ads by Google. My main intent all along was to suck my (15-20) readers dry; rob them of house and home.

But seriously, I added them for the same reason I added the site meter. Boredom mixed with curiousity; something else to check on during a dull afternoon. From what I can tell, Google won't even pay me until I've "earned" $100, but they don't say how much I "earn" per click. I'm thinking about $.001. I plan on keeping a running total below the ads so all you saps will be aware of how much I've taken you for.

I'll add run downs of the Heat and Hornets games soon and I hope to finish the Webber Study before the end of the All Star break.

16 February 2005

X / 0 = Undefined

Popovich on Duncan's availability for tonight's game, taken from an Express News article: "He may not be as tired or needy as I think he is," Popovich said. "He just wants to keep competing. We'll have to keep talking about it." Popovich described Duncan's status for tonight's game as "double doubtful and double probable divided by a 'no way.'" "'No way' is like a zero," Popovich said. "And I don't think you can divide by zero. Figure that one out."

So, uh, I guess that means he's 50-50.

The Rocky Mountain News did a survey of 151 NBA players, asking them who they thought was the best head coach in the league. Pop won by a wide margin, receiving 30% of the votes. Larry Brown was second with 15%. It looks like you could only vote for coaches currently with a job. The media makes it seem like players wouldn't like to play for Pop because of his hard-ass attitude and the demands he puts on players. Granted, picking the best coach and picking the coach you would most like to play for are different things, but I was still surprised at the results.

11 February 2005

A Tale of Two Halves

San Antonio 101 @ New Jersey 91

I hate sitting through half time, especially when the Spurs play as bad as they did against the Nets. I do not enjoy stewing in frustration. Luckily I started watching the game about an hour after it started, so I TiVoed right through half time.

The Spurs shot a woeful 25% in the first half and Carter had 24 points at the break, yet the Spurs were down only eight. Initially the Spurs were trying an interesting defense against Carter-- severely overplaying his right hand to the point where, in one instance, Devin Brown wasn't even between Vince and the basket. Obviously that didn't work too well.

For the most part the Nets played good defense against Duncan. Game-planning against Duncan really isn't that difficult; just do the following:

-Play very physical against him, especially when he doesn't have the ball. Make it difficult for him to get across the lane. Force him to get the ball 12-15 from the basket. Duncan is not a physical player in the sense you can move him off his spot pretty easily.

-DO NOT DOUBLE TEAM HIM RIGHT AWAY. That's what he wants you to do. That's why he sits there with the ball for five seconds before doing anything. Think about it, have you ever seen Duncan make a move right after getting the ball?

-Play up on him. He'd rather shoot the banker. Don't let him.

-Double team him the second he puts the ball on the floor. He's not good at picking up the dribble and making a pass. That's why he waits for the initial double team.

-Foul the shit out of him if he's near the basket. Since he's not an overly physical player he doesn't get as many calls as he should. And, of course, he's a bad free throw shooter.

The Nets did most of these things, except they double-teamed him too quickly numerous times, which led to nine assists. Otherwise he was a paltry 5-16 for 16 points.

Vince got his first technical with six minutes to go in the 3rd when he and Bowen exchanged head butts. With nine and a half minutes to go in the game he was forced to throw up a shot with the shot clock running down. Bowen contested the shot and in doing so his leg came off the ground a little bit. Carter got one of his legs tangled up with Bowen and down he went. I watched the replay about fifteen times, and I swear Carter did most of this himself-- it's like he was trying to get a foul called and ended up making his fall much worse than it should have been. What happened next is pretty well documented. Carter sprinted at Bowen with fists clenched at his side and a ref nearly tackled him. It was pretty clear that Carter was slowing up; I doubt he was going to actually punch Bowen. But he was definitely pissed off.

The refs huddled for a couple minutes and then threw Carter out. I thought that was a no brainer... since when could run at a guy with fists clenched without getting a technical? Isn't that automatic? Well, apparently it's not. At least according to the Yes Network announcers, some guy and the token former mediocre white basketball player in Kelly Tripucka. They argued the following:

--Vince already had a technical. The second technical is supposed to be harder to get. The rules change apparently.

--Vince had 43 points. You don't throw out a guy who is playing well. This would be a great rule change: once a player gets to 40 points he puts on a yellow jersey and is allowed to do whatever he wants. No traveling, no fouls and he gets one free kick to the nuts of any opposing player or coach.

Barry misses the technical FT and then Manu hits two FTs to reduce the lead to one point. Unfortunately the Malik Rose Special followed. As I've mentioned before, Malik Rose cannot defend the pick and roll. He refuses to jump out on the pick. Doesn't matter who he's guarding or who he's leaving wide open. In this case he was guarding somebody like freaking Jabari Smith and he left Jason Kidd wide open for a three which he buried. Tony Parker was pissed. On the court during live action. I think he even said something to Rose. Pop, of course, nearly had a coronary during the next dead ball.

Speaking of Parker, he played phenomenally. 27 points on 17 shots with 8 assists and 5 rebounds. What's even more impressive is that this came after an awful first quarter where he was only 1 for 5. As I've said before, he tends to disappear from games if he starts poorly. Not against the Nets. He basically took the game over in the fourth quarter, getting to the basket at will. At one point he dusted Kidd (or whoever), then crossed over some big in the lane and made a left-handed while drawing the foul. I screamed. Occasionally I will involuntarily scream during a Spurs game. Doesn't happen often, but when it does it usually gives The Wife a heart attack. I can remember two other instances:

--Nobili dunking over Marion and Stoudemire in OT.

--Kevin Willis dunking home a put back against the Lakers in the fourth quarter of game 6 in the 02-03 playoffs. It was at that point I let myself realize the Spurs beat the motherfucking Lakers in the playoffs by crushing them on their home court. I'm getting dizzy just thinking about it.

By the way, Parker had 16 points in the fourth and thoroughly outclassed Jason Kidd. Which is commonplace for Parker. God bless Mrs. Kidd for not letting Jason come to San Antonio. Now if she could only shrink her kids' head.

This House Is Clean

Karl Malone is retiring. Good riddance.

10 February 2005

The Inaugural ISBISS Awards

These awards are somewhat inspired by the "hacking mass" contests over at Baseball Prospectus. The contest involved picking one player at each position (before the season started) that you thought would have horrible offensive stats yet still get a bunch of at bats. Players like Rey Ordonez and Neifi Perez were common choices.

The ISBISS Awards are similar in that they honor the ignoble. Give credit where no credit is due. Lavish with praise those who deserve scorn.

ISBISS is short for "I Suck But I Still Shoot." I thought about calling them the Antoine Walker Awards, but in the end I couldn't resist coming up with a pronouncable acronym.

Since the 2004 season is still in full swing I will posthumously give out the 2003 awards. The selection process is simple-- find the player at each position with the lowest PPS (points per shot). I set a minimum of 300 FGA for the season. Without further adieu...

(God I fucking hate ESPN.com. It has to be one of the most popular websites in the world and yet the site is often slower than shit. You think they could afford some super fast servers or whatever. And why the hell do I have to enter my Insider password for every damned chat? Since I'm still waiting for the site to load I'll go on. Does anyone else notice that if The Sports Guy hasn't written a new article in a couple of days they'll just change the title of his last one, making you think it's new? Not to mention the fact they actually pay Greg Anthony to write about the NBA. Unfortunately it's the only site that has sortable PPS.)

PG Maurice Williams, Utah, 0.94 PPS with 303 FGA
SG Eddie House, LAC, 0.91 PPS with 449 FGA
SF Jarvis Hayes, Washington, 0.97 PPS with 695 FGA
PF Antoine Walker, Dallas, 1.02 PPS with 1129 FGA
C Predrag Drobnjak, LAC, 1.01 PPS with 379 FGA (just beating out Rasho)

Please feel free to propogate the word isbiss in its various forms. Such as:

"The Wizards managed to beat the Spurs despite Arenas' isbissal performance."
"Dude, don't pick that guy. He's one of them isbissers."
"Antoine Walker is putting on an isbissing clinic out there tonight!"

Uncle Cliffy

According to all sorts of sources the Spurs (and just about every other NBA team with playoff aspirations) are after Clifford Ralph Robinson. He's tall and 38 years old. He also plays pretty much the same game as Robert Horry. One has a .440 FGP and a .356 3P% for his career. The other has a .432 FGP and a .340 3P%.

The Spurs just want another big body they can rely on-- someone they don't have to worry about getting caught with a hooker or having rabid pit bulls. They definitely weren't going to carry three point guards into the post season so they need someone useful to fill Wilks' seat on the bench. News flash: Sean Marks is not that guy.

Unlike Malone, Cliffy is under contract with Golden State, so the Spurs would have to give someone up to get him. And due to salary cap rules and such the salaries have to approximately match. Robinson makes 5.3 million this year, the last year of his contract. Unfortunately the Spurs don't have anyone they're willing to give up in that range. Oh wait. There's that one guy they've been trying to get rid of for about a year now. He makes 5.5 million this year.

The Spurs, of course, have offered Malik Rose to the Warriors (along with every other team with an expiring contract). Now, I think it's been well established that Chris Mullin is a horrible GM who has little idea what he's doing. But there's no way he's this stupid. First off, he already has the overpaid player who's supposed to bring energy in Eduardo Najera. Secondly, he has to know that even Isaiiaaiaiaih wouldn't take Malik. That's a big clue right there. Thirdly, one of the other teams interested in Cliffy will certainly offer something better than Rose.

I just don't see a way the Spurs can get him, unless the Spurs have some trade exemption I don't know about.

09 February 2005

Effin' Comcast

Spurs 87 @ Washington 95

The plan was to come home and watch the beginning of the game while TiVo continued to record what remained. So I get home, grab a diet coke and get settled in on the couch. I flip on the TiVo and select the game. I then proceed to fast forward through an hour and a half of a black screen with "this channel will be available shortly." The digital cable went out. Bloody fucking hell.

The Comcast lady tells me they will "send a signal" to my box which will turn it off and perform a reset. Unfortunately their systems were backed up so it would be a while. Why is it that when you spend more money on something it's more likely to fuck up? My regular cable never went out. I had a walkman that worked for years but my iPod broke in a month. Plasma televisions burn out in a couple years.

The game finally comes on with about six minutes left and the Spurs down by six. About thirty seconds later my cable box gets the magic "signal" and shuts off. I wait the prescribed five minutes and end up catching the last two minutes of the game. Ugh.

Antawn Jamison scored 35 points on 24 shots, becoming another example of players that play well after I call them out. There was Przybilla, then Webber puts up consecutive triple doubles and now Jamison has his best game of the year after I ridicule his All Star selection. Gilbert Arenas went nine for 28-- he and Jamison accounted for 62% of the Wizards attempts.

It looks like Rose had another good game with 19 and seven, this time starting for Duncan. Parker was two rebounds and an assist short of a triple-double. The Spurs shot a ton of threes, 26 to be exact, and only hit seven of them. Barry went one for five.

This was an especially bad game for Duncan to miss; he matches up best against Jamison defensively.

According to Pop's post game interview, Duncan is only 50-50 for Friday's game against the Nets.

08 February 2005

Brevin Knight Molests Baby Kangaroos

Spurs 104 @ Charlotte 85

The Spurs often have trouble with lesser teams. Last year, Philly came into the Alamo City without Iverson and beat the Spurs. This year, New Orleans nearly won in the SBC Center without Baron Davis. Tonight the Spurs faced the expansion Bobcats, who were missing their best player, Emeka Okafor, as well as their starting SG Kareem Rush.

Some Spurs fans may want to take solace in the fact the Spurs crushed their opponent, but let's face it, this game meant nothing. The team Charlotte put on the floor tonight would have had trouble against some NBDL teams. Their only guy offensive threat was Primoz Brezec, who Indiana left unprotected in the expansion draft. Jason Kapono, who's basically a slower footed Fred Hoiberg, scored some points, but they were all in garbage time. And why did he ditch the headband he sported whilst at UCLA?

Kapono and Brevin Knight combined for a rebound in 62 minutes. So if you had a team composed of Knight, Kapono, Szczerbiak, Marks and Jerome James, how many rebounds would they grab in 48 minutes? 11? Maybe some of you MIT folks can run a computer simulation.

Speaking of the MIT Beavers, this here blog gets hits from some MIT.edu computers. This has to be some automated computer program that optimizes search engine queries or something, right?

The game still had its entertaining moments. There were a slew of very sad airballs. It started with Theron Smith taking an angled shot from about 10 feet that hit the side of the backboard. Kapono had two, the first occuring when he haplessly tried to draw a foul on a three-pointer. He sort of slipped and left the shot about five feet short. He also attempted a left-handed finger roll which he left about three feet short. Massenburg had a great one, too. With the shot clock running down he threw up a right handed mini hook that was about three feet short of the rim. At first I thought it had to be blocked, but after rewinding the only explanation possible is that he had no idea where he was on the court. The moral of the story: Massenburg should never, ever shoot the ball.

The highlight of the night had to be Marks delivering the facial to the helpless Melvin Ely. The bench went nuts of course. He also had an alley-oop from Parker earlier-- quite possibly the best game Sean Marks has ever had in the NBA. By the way, he managed 0 rebounds in 14 minutes.

Duncan's injury allowed Rasho some time in the paint where, well, he sort of dominated, hitting his first seven shots. At one point he did a little head fake and hit a line drive turn around. Sean Elliott called it the "Slovenian version of the Dream Shake."

With about four minutes left the refs basically swallowed their whistles. On two consecutive possessions Charlotte hacked away at the Spurs without drawing a foul. About thirty seconds later Brevin Knight "drives" the lane, gets a little kneeage from Beno, and proceeds to throw a wild shot at the backboard. The refs don't call anything and Brevin goes apeshit, screaming at the ref for about 30 seconds before drawing a T... with 52 seconds left in a game that was over at half time. What the fuck? That's almost as embarrassing as getting dusted by Tony Parker on about twelve consecutive possessions. I don't give a shit what your assist-to-turnover ratio is, you, Brevin Knight are just another can't shoot point guard SCRUB.

The Spurs play at Washington tomorrow, where Duncan again will not play. Washington is without Larry Hughes and sports the most ludicrous All Star selection in Antawn Jamison. This will mark the sixth or seventh consecutive game against a team missing a key player.

The Coaches Get It Right

As always, the fans picked the All Star starters:

Yao Ming, C
Timmeh, F
Kevin Garnett, F
Tracy McGrady, G
Kobe Bryant, G

The coaches pick the reserves by vote, though they cannot vote for players on their own teams.

Nobili, G
Amare Stoudemire, C
Rashard Lewis, F
Ray Allen, G
Steve Nash, G
Shawn Marion, F
Dirk Nowitzki, F

You may think this goes without saying, but I think Manu definitely deserved a spot on the team, despite being only seventh in scoring among SGs in the Western Conference. Like RBIs in baseball, fans tend to overvalue a player's PPG. PPG is largely a function of number of opportunities used. Every possession is a chance to score and some players use more possessions than others. Basically, some players score a lot because they shoot a lot.

Take Jason Richardson for example. He scores 22.3 PPG but he uses approximately 22 possessions to do it. Manu, however, is one of the most efficient scorers in the game and puts up 15.9 PPG on 12.9 possessions. Combine that with his dynamic defensive play and his ability to finish and you have an All Star in my book. Not to mention he's probably the most unique player in the game; no one plays quite like him.

Last I heard, Timmeh is doubtful for tonight's game at Charlotte. He rolled his ankle in practice on Sunday and Pop is being cautious. Let's hope Nesterovic can make a go of it. The idea of both Massenburg and Marks getting big minutes doesn't sit well with me. I don't care who they're playing.

Oh, and this is the first game I'm watching via TiVo / NBA League Pass. Speaking of TiVo, it will independently record shows based on other things you've recorded. Yesterdays surprise selections included Little House on the Prairie and Lassie. This should give you a good idea of the type of program The Wife records (pretty much everything on WB).

07 February 2005

More Strange Search Engine Queries (SSEQs)

First off, I would like to thank the fine people at Google for putting me on the 42nd page under a search for San Antonio Spurs blog.

On to some SSEQs.

Gregg Popovich brain type

I've heard of personality types, but "brain types" are new to me.

Manu Ginobili's wife name

Come here for all your Spurs gossip needs! Word on the street says Malik treated the entire team to pedicures yesterday!

"Tyra Banks" "mpg"

My first porn related search!-- another right of passage. Aren't movie files mpegs? And why are there quotes around "mpg?"

06 February 2005

Four Hours Wasted

Me: That didn't feel like the Super Bowl.
The Wife: Yeah, because they played like asshole!

A Pox on this House

According to the Express News, Malone met with Timmeh and Popovich yesterday in San Antonio. No decisions were made. The Spurs can only offer him the league veteran minimum of $1.1 million. Popovich told Karl that he couldn't guarantee him any playing time.

I have already said a lot (scroll down to "You Just Don't) about the prospects of adding Malone. I find the fact that the Spurs are still entertaining the notion both disappointing and disheartening. Do they really think he's going to add all that much to the team? At this point all he is good for is playing defense against big slow people. One of the biggest arch-enemies of the Spurs could very well end up getting his only ring while playing, and contributing very little, to the Spurs.

Why don't they just give one of David Robinson's rings to him? David's got two, anyway. And, since they're already going to sign the one player who tried to kill him, why not have a "Kick David Robinson in the Nuts Day?" They could have fans come down and pay $2 to take a swing at his goods. Proceeds could go to putting some rims on Malone's big rig. Also, while the Spurs are at it, let's make Desert Fever the official disease of the Spurs. And then, when they go to retire Sean Elliott's number, they could have Mike Tyson come up behind him and give him a kidney punch.

05 February 2005

Chris Webber Analysis: An Introduction

Before I begin the data acquisition and number crunching, I want to layout the goals of my study.

Goal One: Determine the effect, if any, of Chris Webber's shot quantity on the offensive production of the Sacramento Kings.

Goal Two: Compare the offensive and defensive effectiveness under two conditions: when Webber plays and when he doesn't.

As a sort of mini control group, I am going to do the same analysis in Goal One for Tim Duncan, Allen Iverson and Shaq (Miami season not included). I will include Iverson and Shaq in the study in Goal Two.

I picked Duncan and Shaq because they are elite players who don't shoot a whole lot, comparatively speaking. Iverson, of course, shoots a ton, but on a team lacking talent (unlike Sacramento). These three players have also played on teams that were relatively static for the past three years; no huge additions or subtractions. Finally, both Shaq and AI have missed a large amount of games in the past three years.

Mathematically speaking, the study will be simple (more on that later). Also, it is quite possible that a similar study has been done before. I don't care. This is my idea of fun.

04 February 2005

I Forgot to Add the Hate

I pulled another example of a strange search engine query that led to my blog.

Malik Rose is dating...

I'm sensing a theme. Maybe this person found out Robert Horry has too many groupies and has moved on to Malik. Who's last on the list? Hmm. I'm guessing Mike Wilks.

So I've blathered a lot about the Spurs and the NBA, but not stuff I hate. I'm going to partially rectify this oversite by furthering exploring my abhorrence of Chris Webber. It will definitely involve some charts and graphs and lovely nights spent with Excel.

I think there are two players I've yet to grade. I'll get them out of the way before I get my hate on.

Mike Wilks, 5'-11" PG, 25 years old, 1.2 PPG, 0.5 APG, 48% FGP in 3.8 MPG

Mike went to Rice, so he's probably pretty smart. That's about the only good thing I can say about him. He sports a career FG% of 38% and 34% from behind the arc. To be honest, I have no idea why he's even on the roster let alone active. Why do we need three point guards, especially when Barry can play point in an emergency? From what I can tell, Mike is a short point guard who isn't a particularly good shooter. Those guys are a dime a dozen.

Maybe I'll start a petition to cut Mike Wilks. Sorry Mrs. Wilks. Your son/husband has cute, squeezable cheeks though. That's something.

I give him a D-.

Romain Sato, 6'-5" SG, 23 years old, yet to play

Romain Sato has been on the injured list all year with dry mouth. I am pretty sure he stayed all four years at Xavier, where he led his team fairly far into the tournament last year. From what I can recall. I may just be making that up.

Satoooooooooo is from Bangui. That's probably in Africa. Them African countries change their names every 3 months or 3 000 miles. I like having international players on the Spurs. It gives some justification to the "International" part of San Antonio International Airport. I'm sorry, but flying a two-seater to Nuevo Laredo does not qualify an airport as international. So, anyways, the Spurs are like way huge in Africa now.

I think Romain Sato is a very promising youngster. First off, his name is Romain, which is by far the best type of lettuce. Iceberg is for punk ass bitches. Secondly, his last name is Sato, which is a great character from Karate Kid II, which I liked way before I ever heard of the Sports Guy so get off my case. Sato is this bad-ass character that wants to kick Miyagi's ass. All he does all day is karate chop this big piece of wood. He's so mean that his name isn't even Sato, it's Satooooooooooo. And you have to say it in a raspy voice, too. He strikes fear into the hearts of the villagers and flosses every night. Hopefully Romain will find some way to incorporate lettuce or karate into his post-dunk celebrations.

I give him an A+.


Waiting to Exhale

I am sure I stopped breathing when Timmeh went down. Doug Collins was hyperventilating and exclaiming "Oh no, Oh no, I just can't look at the replay," making it seem like Duncan's fibula had broken the skin and pierced his eye. I was surprised to feel tears welling up as I contemplated the ruination of what could have been a very special season. One second you're enjoying the renaissance of Malik Rose and then *poof*, the season is OVER. Like getting punched in the gut.

I, like the TNT announcers, thought there was no way Pop would play Duncan in the second half. But Timmeh wanted to play and he's earned the right to make the call in that situation. And I'm glad he did, because the Spurs orchestrated one of the most enjoyable quarters of basketball that I've ever seen. They outscored the Lakers 37-15, making 13 of 17 shots with 11 assists. Seven different players scored and five different players had assists.

The Spurs are a unique NBA team in that they can blow a team out without having one player score a ton on points. They are so much fun to watch, especially now when everything seems to be coming together. Parker has his confidence back, Pop has loosed the chains on Nobili and Barry seems more integrated in the offense. That's what made Duncan's injury all the more painful; this team could be it. I just want to see where this team could go.

I am not sure any other coach would have handled the fourth quarter like Pop, basically risking a loss by keeping Duncan on the bench. I loved the move. Like Collins said, you cannot always expect to get bailed out. In the playoffs teams are going to collapse on Tim and somebody else is going to have to make the plays on the offensive end in the fourth quarter.

If not for the Tim scare Malik Rose would have been the story (for Spurs fans at least). He had a great game-- 19 points on 10 shot attempts with 11 rebounds (seven offensive) and 3 assists. I think the difference is that for once he played under control; letting the offensive opportunities come to him and more importantly playing disciplined defense. He needs to channel all his extra energy into hitting the boards. I was happy to see him playing well again.

03 February 2005

Spurs vs. Sonics, Part II

I added pictures to Part I.

I left off right at half time, with the Spurs holding a 14 point lead thanks to a second quarter where they held the Sonics to 12 points.

Half time feature quite possibly the lamest half time show in history. In my opinion, you cannot go wrong with the lady on the 20' unicycle who kicks bowls on to her head. Instead, the geniuses behind the umbrella give away decided to have a performance from the musical Singing in the Rain. Lots of people singing and prancing around with umbrellas.



How exciting. Again, would this ever happen in a place like Philadelphia? Unfortunately Seattle features the most docile crowds in America-- everyone sat quiety and nibbled on their California rolls.

The third quarter featured another Danny Fortson moment. Timmeh drop-stepped into the lane and Danny dropped the hammer. Fortson of course went storming off in disbelief, prompting a chorus of boos from the crowd. The replay was shown on the jumbotron and it quickly stifled the crowd. Total hack job, prompting A-Mac to yell "Get Fortson out of there!" Fortson finished the game with 4 fouls in seven minutes. Nice job, Danny.

Brent Barry was awful in the third, even managing a brutal air ball from three. It was at the halfway point between the top of the key and the corner, and he overshot the basket and somehow missed the backboard. He quickly redeemed himself in the fourth, scoring eight points in the first two minutes. Nick Collison responded with six quick points, all with Duncan guarding him.

With the game already in hand, things started to get a little chippy. The refs had a lot to do with this. Duncan drove for a dunk and didn't get the call. I'll let you decide.

Hmm. I guess the elbow is part of the ball.

Later in the fourth Timmeh took Jerome baseline and got the on the floor foul call. After the whistle James gave Duncan a little elbow to the top of the shoulder. The refs missed it of course. Duncan gave him the patented "Son, just what in the hell are you doing?" look. For whatever reason Duncan is the only opponent James plays physically against. Though I cannot remember the circumstances, I know they've had previous confrontations. Anyways, the ever in-control Duncan quickly responded with a 20' jumper in James' mug. Jerome came back in his own special way, getting called for an offensive foul and then disappearing for the rest of the fourth quarter.

Some random game notes:

A Spurs-Sonics playoff series would be interesting. Duncan and James have a history and so do Bowen and Rashard Lewis. Bowen took Rashard totally out of his game, to the point where he only got nine shots off. He averages 16.5 and with Allen out he shoot have taken about 20.

Beno Udrih wears the Tim Duncan signature shoe.

Seeing the Spurs play live gave me a better appreciation of how good a defensive team they are. The collapse on penetrators very well and make just about every possession difficult.

During the third quarter my wife said "Tony Parker sure is getting a lot of rebounds tonight. I bet he finishes with a double-double." (She was right, Tony had 10 rebounds.) How freaking cool is my wife?

A-Mac turned out not to be a drunken bonehead. Just a rabid fan (with a personalized jersey with his nickname).

02 February 2005

Spurs vs. Sonics, Part I

My wife is typically a sweet person, but at times she can be easily annoyed. For example, waiting outside an arena in cold weather would make her, uhh, let's say "not so friendly." So when I suggested getting to the game when the doors opened she was skeptical. She specifically asked if I was sure the Key Arena doors opened at 5:30.

"Babe, I'm looking at the website right now. I'm semi-literate, and it clearly says that the doors open at 5:30. And concessions are 25% off for the first hour!"

Silence...

"OK, but you better be right."

Needless to say the doors didn't open until about 6:15. That was a fun 45 minutes, let me tell you. The worst part was the delay was mostly due to a damned umbrella give away. Ugh.

And these weren't the small, travel sized umbrellas. These were the huge golf umbrellas with the pointy metal cap on the end. So, uh, I can't bring in a leatherman but you're going to pass out metal-capped projectiles. Makes sense. Would this ever happen at, say, a Sixers game? Is there any way we can replay the Pacers vs. fans fight, except this time the fans have golf umbrellas?

The Sonics have a cool policy where they actually incourage (with announcements) fans to go to the first couple of rows to watch the players warm up. When we arrived Nobili, Rasho, Horry and Massenburg were taking shots. Nobili was taking some 15-18 footers off the dribble and Rasho was working on post moves. Massenburg was practicing looking tough and Horry wasn't doing much of anything. Barry later joined them and took about 100 3-pointers.




My wife summed it up pretty well when she said "Wow, Manu Ginobili's right there."





A Spanish speaking woman in front of us got her picture taken with Manu. This was the only time Manu stood still for more than two seconds, so I took advantage.




When he left the court he spent about 10 minutes signing autographs. Horry signed some, too. It was nice to see that.

We headed up to our seats, which were good, but not great. A little too far away for action photos during the game, which I didn't really mind.

I always like to watch teams go through the lay-up drills, etc. before the game. It's interesting to see who pairs up with who for little games of one on one, and how much fun they have with each other just goofing off. You sometimes forget that these guys really love to play basketball.

Bowen and Duncan faced off, and at one point Bowen took a pretty vicious swipe at the ball as Tim was going up. He got all ball, but it still made me cringe. We cannot have The Cornerstone dislocating a finger during freaking warmups. Bowen should try that crap on Marks. Or The Doghouse. Anybody but Timmeh.

So, as you probably know, Ray Allen was out with scabies or something and McMillan was with family due to his mothers death. So the game was a little anticlimactic. The crowd was pumped, especially for a Seattle crowd, but the impact of the contest was lost. This was no longer a statement game for the Spurs. This was simply another must-win game, like facing the Hornets without Baron or the Kings with Webber.

The Sonics virtually gave the game away before it even started by starting Flip Murray in Ray Allen's place. Murray missed the first ~month of the season and had only played sparingly since returning. He's shooting 37% (30% from three) and all of the sudden he's supposed to replace Ray's 24 PPG? Yeah, I'm sure they told him not to try and do everything by himself, but he sure didn't listen, hoisting up 17 shots (6 more than any other Sonic) and only making 5 of them. Seattle should have started former Spur Antonio Daniels and had Flip take over in the "spark plug off the bench" role.

The first quarter was odd. Jerome James, who usually spends more time pulling his shorts up than actually doing anything useful, clearly outplayed Duncan during the first 12 minutes. At one point, with the shot clock running down, Jerome drove from around the three-point line and made a driving lay up. He finished the quarter with 8 points and basically took the next two quarters off. Bowen led the way for the Spurs, hitting his first four ridiculously wide-open jumpers. Apparently the Sonics game plan was to not cover Bowen. When Parker threw a cross-court pass for Bowen's fourth basket of the quarter you could hear the crowd actually groaning. One of those "how the hell is he that wide-open AGAIN?" groans.

The first quarter also featured Pop blowing a gasket and nearly getting tossed. The refs, specifically this one, were AWFUL. Thankfully they were approximately equally awful both ways. They would miss total hacks and then call ridiculous touch fouls. There was one point, in the fourth quarter, where the Sonics were mounting a little bit of a run. Daniels drove the lane for a layup and good ole' Leon blew his whistle from about 40' a way. Duncan was closest so he got the foul. I honestly think Leon just wanted to hear the crowd go nuts. He was probably thinking "They love me! They really love me!"

Somewhere about the six minute mark a lone Sonics fan grabbed the empty seat in front of us. He was sporting a Sonics jacket, a personalized Sonics jersey over a Sonics shirt and a hat of the local minor league hockey team. Readers, meet A-Mac. He's number one people! He was also alone. Uh-oh. I've seen this before. For some reason I have this knack for attracting belligerent fans. Concerts, sporting events, scrapbook parties, doesn't matter. I always find myself next to a drunk bonehead.




The second quarter could have been subtitled "The Spurs Will Now Show That the Sonics Have Absolutely No Idea How to Defend the Pick and Roll." Manu Ginobili, in the space of seven minutes, got to the rim four separate times, all on pick and rolls from the top of the key. Each time Jerome James stood in the middle of the lane. And each time Manu would take two long steps right by him and lay it up. It was sort of embarrasing. The crowd was going crazy. And at this point Flip was something like 1-9. This incited the Token Drunk Guy in Abercrombie Shirt to start screaming "Flip, you SUUUUUCCCCK!" By the end of the game he was hoarse.

The second quarter also featured the Danny Fortson Special. I love watching this man play the game. All he does is rebound and assault people. He averages 12.2 fouls per 48 minutes. So, if he played the whole game, he would foul out twice. Needless to say he leads the league. Anyways, the Danny Fortson Special involves three things. First, Danny Fortson grabs an offensive rebound. Second, Danny Fortson finds the nearest defender and assaults him with his lowered shoulder. Third, Danny Fortson prances around with his hands in the air and pig tails a-flying, all while sporting The Derek Fisher "I Cannot Believe You Just Called That Foul" face. The crowd, of course, booed heartily, wanting to believe that Danny Fortson was singled out by the refs.

Now, I am not a boisterous sports fan. Especially when I'm in the other team's building. I just want to watch the game and avoid conflict. My wife, on the other hand, doesn't give a shit. Don't get me wrong, she's not standing on her chair yelling obscenities, but everyone around her knows who's she rooting for. I try to convince her to tone it down a bit, especially with the wild card A-Mac in front of us. So, with about 3 minutes to go in the first half Nobili gets fouled. The following ensues:

-Nobili misses free throw
-A-Mac loudly claps about fifteen times
-Nobili misses second free throw
-A-Mac loudly claps about fifteen more times
-Wife says "I think I'm going to have to beat A-Macs ass" a little too loudly. Thankfully he doesn't hear her.
-I beg her to keep it down.
-She responds with "I am NOT changing my game plan for him."

What the hell? My wife has a game plan?

Part II will follow tomorrow. I'll add some pictures then as well.

01 February 2005

Anybody Need Some Coax?

I spent about an hour and a half getting the digital cable and TiVo up and running, and I now have a minimum of 400' lineal feet of cable running throughout my house. I will probably spend three hours this weekend straightening all the cords. It takes time to find the most efficient way to position everything. Deciding how to stack the boxes is going to take two hours by itself. We got the digital cable box, the TiVo box, the DVD player and the PS2. Then one must tape up all the wires and verify tautness. No slack is allowed! And the kicker is making sure no cables show from the front. I'm going to need a lot of tape.

One of the most fun aspects of having a blog is seeing who comes and visits your site and how they got there. People search for the oddest things. I thought I would post the oddest/funniest examples. I'll update this periodically, assuming people keep searching for stuff like:

Robert Horry groupies

So if anyone has any photos of Spurs groupies please e-mail them to me. I am particularly interested in any of the numerous P.J. Carlesimo groupies. People have the right to this information.

I am still working on the writeup from yesterdays game. In the meantime check out the two-part article by the person(s) at KnickerBlogger (you'll have to scroll down to "AlamoBlogger Part I"). I haven't read the whole thing, but as far as I can tell it discusses the Spurs defensive dominance in analytical terms. KnickerBlogger is one of the most popular NBA blogs, and with good reason. I have to admit, all those numbers and charts are turning me on a little bit... ahh, the life of a structural engineer... it's faaaaaannnntastic.


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All content copyright Matthew Powell 2005.