The Sickness Strikes
Here's an excerpt from George Karl's postgame news conference:
"It was just a tough refereed game, man, and I hate complaining about refereeing, but on our home court we got so many tough calls... BS calls... I mean, the charge Danny Crawford called on Andre Miller was incredibly bad. And it just seems... Carmelo gets killed. They walk underneath him every time he touches the ball. Earl's geting bumped, but because he's so small he doesn't get the respect. Ginobili gets the same bump and he goes to the free throw line... and we did not lose the game because of the free throw line, and the fouling, but I just don't think we got a very good whistle, and I was really disappointed in some of the calls."
So. Let me get this straight. You shoot two more free throws than the Spurs (even though you had 10 less FGA). Duncan plays only 5 minutes in the first half largely due to a horrible loose ball foul and shoots a total of two free throws in the entire game. And you're complaining about the refs? Are you KIDDING me? Is Carmelo supposed to get more respect from the refs than Duncan?
If I was Karl I would be more worried about the fact that DEN shot a higher percentage than the Spurs, DEN got 20 fast break points and Tony and Tim shot a combined 8-31 and you still lost by 8 at home.
Duncan got his first foul about 50 seconds in the game. Nazr bit on a Camby upfake and Duncan was forced to challenge him at the rim. I've said it before: Nazr is not a good team defender. He can match up pretty well one on one against a pure post guy, but he's awful outside of the paint, especially on the pick and roll. It was really good to see Rasho get 17 minutes tonight. He's the Solid Slovenian.
Duncan got his second foul early in the first quarter when Tony Parker gave him the ball about ten feet from the basket on a fast break. He couldn't/didn't stop in time and got called for an obvious charge.
Luckily the Spurs have Manu. He was pretty much unstoppable in the first half. Driving, hitting threes, feeding Udrih on consecutive back doors. Despite Duncan's absence, the Spurs went into half time with a 9 point lead.
The second half was largely a struggle offensively for both teams. Duncan was 0-8 in the third quarter, missing many easy looks. Timmeh was obviously phenomenal in game 2, but he's been dreadful in the two other contests. He wasn't even getting double-teamed by DEN. There's no way he should go 5-19 against single coverage.
The game was tight well into the fourth quarter, when up stepped Big Shot Rob. With the Spurs clinging to a 4 point lead with 6 minutes to go, Rob stole a horrible pass from Camby in the back court. He calmly dribbled out to the three point line and drained a wide open three. I couldn't believe he even took the shot. He hit another 3 the next possession to give the Spurs a 10 point lead.
Duncan continued to struggle in the fourth, so Pop put the offense in the hands of Manu, and he responded with 10 points including a huge 3 that increased the Spurs lead back to 7 with 2 minutes to go.
With 38 seconds to go Andre Miller missed a three that would have cut the lead to 2. DEN had trouble catching The Sickness and he ended taking the ball right to the basket where Carmelo sorta, well, punched him in the face. I don't think 'Melo intentionally hit him in the beak, but he definitely wasn't going for the ball. Dennie Crawford gave him a flagrant foul 2 and tossed him out of the game.
Manu, after the game, said he didn't think it was a dirty foul. He also didn't think Carmelo would get suspended, and I agree with him. I'm sure the league will look at it, though.
Melo again had trouble all night with Bowen. He shot 7-17 and had 19 points.
Another thing I didn't (and still don't) understand about all this talk about DEN beating SA... the Spurs have the best two players on the court. Do people seriously believe that Carmelo is a better player than Ginobili? C'mon.
Manu is third in the league in PPS behind only Amare and Shaq. He can penetrate with either hand. He can finish with either hand. He can shoot the three. He can pull up. He can shoot the off-balance leaner. He shoots a high percentage from 3, 2 and the FT line. He's a plus defender. He's 10th in the league in steals per 48 minutes. He can keep you out of the lane. He's relentless. He has a knack for coming up with big offensive rebounds. He's fearless.
And what I love most about the guy is that he wants it more than everybody else. Here's a skinny Argentinian guy who comes into the league and wins a championship his first year. He then proceeds to lead his country to an Olympic gold medal while the Americans don't even make it to the final game. And now he's schooling these American kids at their own damn game. He out talents them, out hustles them, out hearts them.
Shouldn't the court be Kenyon's turf? For a 100 million dollars shouldn't you be "holding it down?" Shouldn't Carmelo be "representin' the streets of Baltimore?" Isn't it sad that you're reduced to roughing the guy up when the outcome's already been decided? It's supposed to be about winning, right? Or is it about put back dunks? Or maybe pulling your jersey to show your heart? Getting a signature shoe? Selling the most jerseys? Fat endorsement deals?
Lastly, the O/U for this game was 194. The teams have played 6 times this year and never scored more than 189 points. Talk about easy money.