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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.

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All content copyright Matthew Powell 2005.