Lebron, Zydrunas and Pray for Rain
(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.
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.
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.
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?