Spurs Down in Series

Created Thursday, 29 May 2008 09:44

Spurs Down 3-1, Series Hangs in Balance

The Spurs now have their backs totally against the wall, after losing at home to the Lakers to fall behind 3-1 in the series.  The 93-91 loss was a heartbreaker for San Antonio, who now must win three straight to have a chance to defend their championship.  Tim Duncan can’t be blamed for the loss, as he gave a superhuman effort in the loss, scoring 29 points, and grabbing 17 rebounds.

The big man also added several blocks and assists to try to help his team move forward.  With Manu Ginobili having yet another off night, Brent Barry stepped up, scoring 23 points, and missing a three as time expired, which would have won the game, and tied the series.  There was obvious contact on his shot, but no foul was called, much to the dismay of the Spurs, and the home crowd.

Ginobili was quite simply terrible throughout the game, scoring his first points with just over a minute left in the third quarter, and finishing with 7 points.  He did hit a three late in the game to bring his team to within 4 points, but it was not enough.  Tony Parker held up his end of the bargain, scoring 23 points, but no one else was even a factor for San Antonio.  Michael Finley, Fabricio Oberto, and Kurt Thomas all failed to score.  Robert Horry scored two points, and Bruce Bowen managed seven.  Surprisingly, as a team, the Spurs still managed to shoot 40% from the field, although only 29% from behind the arc.

Again, the Spurs had no answer for the MVP, Kobe Bryant, who scored 28 points and had 10 rebounds.  The Lakers were more balanced in the game, having 4 players scoring in double digits and another with 9 points.

Although the Spurs only had 8 turnovers in the game, the difference was in the rebounding.  LA outrebounded San Antonio 46-37, many of those being offensive rebounds which led to second chance points for the Lakers.

San Antonio must win the next game in Los Angeles to allow the series to come back to San Antonio for Game 6, but the Spurs are in as desperate a situation as they have been in their playoff lives.  It is now a one game series, with no room for mistakes.  One loss and the Spurs will once again repeat their history of winning a championship and not being able to defend it the next year.  Let’s hope they can get on a roll and surprise the people who are already counting them out.

Go Spurs!

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Spurs Back Home

Created Monday, 26 May 2008 09:55

Spurs Back Home, Rout LA 103-84

Finally back in the comfy confines of the AT&T Center, the Spurs showed that even down 0-2 they are far from done in this series against the Lakers, and even though they may be older, they’ve still got plenty left in the tank.  Unlike in Game 1 of the series, this time the Spurs built a lead, and managed to hang on.  For San Antonio, all the pieces were working for the first time in this series, and one of their main scorers, Manu Ginobili, finally found his shot.  Ginobili had barely cracked double digits in the first two games, and was nursing a pair of injuries, but exploded for thirty points in the 103-84 win.  In fact, Ginobili scored more points in the first half of the contest (22) than he did in the first two games combined (17).

Actually, all of San Antonio’s main players got into their grooves in the contest.  Tim Duncan put up a vintage game, scoring 22 points, and adding 21 rebounds and 4 assists.  Tony Parker scored 20 and had 5 assists Sunday night.

Unlike in Game 1, the Spurs managed to keep their lead late in the game.  San Antonio had a 12 point lead starting the final period in Game 3, and after a 12-4 run to start the period, they extended the lead and never looked back, despite the best efforts of Kobe Bryant.  Bryant tried to single-handedly bring LA back, as he made 4 three pointers in 2 ½ minutes in the quarter and pulled LA to within 8, but it was as close as San Antonio would allow them to get.  Bryant ended the game with 30 points, but San Antonio’s defense managed to slow the rest of the Lakers down.  Lamar Odom, in particular, had a rough night for Los Angeles, only managing 7 points, on 2-11 shooting.

As a team, San Antonio shot 51% from the field, and almost 57% from behind the arc—a vast improvement over the previous contests.  LA didn’t help themselves any, shooting less than 50% from the free throw line, and turning the ball over 12 times.

The Spurs are back in the series, and must win again in Game 4 to keep the series alive before heading back to LA.  If the Spurs can draw even in the next game, then they will need to steal one in Los Angeles to be able to move onto the Finals against whoever comes out of the East.  Home court makes all the difference in the playoffs this year, even more so than other years.  San Antonio has yet to lose on their own real estate in the playoffs this year, so the chances seem good for them to even the series up in Game 4.

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Spurs Clobbered in LA

Created Saturday, 24 May 2008 16:01

 Spurs Clobbered in LA–Down 0-2

The San Antonio Spurs could not do what their counterparts did in the first game of the series, which was to rebound from a large deficit to win the game.  In Game 2, the Spurs fought the Lakers evenly throughout most of the first half of Friday’s game, but allowed LA to go on a 9-0 run just before halftime.  After the half, San Antonio was hoping for a replay of the opening frame of the second half, where they went on a 14-2 run.  What they got was a mirror image.  LA came out after the half determined to take a 2-0 lead in the series, and Kobe Bryant scored 7 points in the first 2 minutes of the second half to break the game wide open.  The Spurs were never in it again, as the Lakers cruised to an easy 101-71 victory.

Being down 0-2 in the NBA playoffs is a place that no team wants to find itself.  San Antonio was in the same position just two weeks ago against the Hornets, yet regrouped to finally win that series in 7 games.  The Lakers, however, are a vastly different team than the young Hornets, and winning this series will require a superhuman effort from the defending champs.

One of the concerns facing San Antonio is the status of Manu Ginobili, who has been ineffective in this series, as he is nursing an injured finger and a sprained ankle.  In Game 1, Ginobili only managed three baskets in the contest.  In the following game, the Argentine sixth man only managed two.  Of course, when a team only scored 71 points in a playoff game, there is plenty of blame to go around, and it’s safe to say that no one played particularly well.  Tony Parker scored 13 points and had 4 assists.  Tim Duncan scored 12 and added 16 rebounds.  Parker and Duncan were the only Spurs to score in double digits in the game.

The Lakers, on the other hand, played a beautiful game, and had 5 players scoring double digits, led by Kobe Bryant’s 22 points.  Lamar Odom scored 20 points and added 12 rebounds.
The Spurs shot 50% from the free throw line, going 5-10, and only managed 6-23 three pointers, and shot only 34% from the field.  LA shot 90% from the free throw line and 55% from the field.

The good news for the Spurs is that the next two games will be played in San Antonio, so the Spurs will have the crowd on their side as they try to claw their way back into the series.  It is certainly a long climb that San Antonio has ahead of them, but they proved against New Orleans that their veteran team is capable of shrugging off pressure and thriving when their backs are against the wall.  Spurs fans are certainly waiting to see them do it again.

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South Texas on a Tank of Gas Calaveras and Braunig Lake Parks

Created Thursday, 22 May 2008 22:24

South Texas on a Tank of Gas Calaveras and Braunig Lake Parks

With rising gas prices and a weak economy, many people are looking for vacations that are cheaper, closer to home, and yet still provide an exciting outing full of cultural experiences and fun.  Luckily for residents of the San Antonio, there are numerous opportunities for all kinds of exciting getaways within a couple hours drive.  Over the coming weeks, this satxblog will be taking a look at some of Central South Texas’ best bets for a weekend adventure in many of the best small towns, parks, campgrounds, outdoor sites, and even beaches, that can be reached in roughly two hours’ driving.  Just because the economy is a bust these days, doesn’t mean that your summer has to be!

South Texas is loaded with opportunities to get away from the stress of the city life, and two parks that are just on San Antonio’s doorstep are Calaveras Lake Park and Braunig Lake Park.  Located just 15 miles southeast of the city, these two parks combine to offer visitors the picturesque beauty of the Hill Country with the excitement of the Texas outdoors.  For a minimal charge of just a few dollars, visitors can have access to both parks and all of the great activities that the parks provide.

Between the two parks, visitors have access to fishing, camping, hiking or biking on the nature trails, boating, picnicking, and more.  In the area surrounding the park, Texas’ wildlife is on full display with a wide variety of birds, wildflowers, fish, and plenty of furry friends.  The main draw for these two lakes, however, are the watersports opportunities that both present visitors.  Boats are allowed on both lakes, and boats are available for rental also.  Fishermen are well-cared for as well, as both parks feature lighted piers, cleaning areas, tackle shops, and acres of water full of hungry catfish, bass, muskie, and red drum.  Braunig Lake and Calveras Lake

Both parks are pet-friendly (with leashes), and offer terrific picnic areas, playgrounds, and plenty of other areas for the whole family to enjoy.  Both parks can be reached by taking Highway 37 south.

Braunig Lake is located 15 miles southeast of downtown San Antonio off Interstate Highway 37 south; take Exit 130 (Donop Road) and follow the signs. The park entrance is located at 17500 Donop Road.

Calaveras Lake is located 15 miles southeast of San Antonio. From Loop 410, proceed southeast on U.S. Highway 181 south, then turn left on Loop 1604 and proceed for two miles; turn left on Stuart Road and proceed for 1/2 mile to the park entrance. The park is located at 12991 Bernhardt Road.

The parks are open every day of the year.  The American economy may be limping along, and a gallon of gas may soon cost more than a gallon of Dom Perignon, but there’s still no reason not to hop in the car, load up the family, and spend a day or two visiting some of south Texas’ beautiful offerings.

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Spurs Blow 20 Point Lead Drop Game One

Created Thursday, 22 May 2008 18:34

Spurs Blow 20 Point Lead Drop Game One

All season long the Spurs have seemingly been a team with two faces.  There are the defending champs, who play tough, smart basketball, and then there are the other guys, who struggle to put the ball in the basket and play uninspired.  Normally, these streaks last for a game or two, but in Game 1 against the Lakers, the defending champs showed up in the first half, but the other guys came out after halftime.

The good Spurs lead by as many as 20 points, but the other guys fumbled around in the final quarter, allowing themselves to miss almost every shot, and not being able to stop the league MVP, Kobe Bryant, or anyone else.

The Spurs had the series in the palm of their ring-laden hands.  Up by 20 in LA, they were ready to send a message that they were taking home court advantage back, and were ready to defend their championship against all comers.  Unfortunately for San Antonio Spurs fans, the effort was not sustained in the second half, and Bryant had his way with San Antonio in the half, scoring 25 points.  The Spurs actually seemed to play worse as the game went on, topping the game off with a 3-21 fourth quarter.

As soon as the third period opened, San Antonio picked up right where they left off, going on a 14-2 run to push their lead to 20.  Of course, that’s when their party ended and LA’s began.  Kobe Bryant helped start a 14-0 run the other way, scoring 7 points, and adding a pair of assists to help his team close the gap.  After that, the Spurs were, for the most part, done.  Although they had opportunities to tie or take the lead late in the game, it was Bryant’s game as the game wore on.

For San Antonio, Tim Duncan scored 30 points, had 18 rebounds, and a pair of assists.  Tony Parker also had a good stat line, scoring 18 points and grabbing 10 rebounds.  Ginobili had an off-night, only managing 10 points on 3-13 shooting.   Duncan scored his final two points with 41 seconds left to tie the game at 85.  With LA up by a basket, Ginobili had a chance to win in the closing seconds, but missed on his three-point try.

San Antonio will try their luck again Friday in LA, before the action shifts back to San Antonio Texas for Game 3.

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Spurs Down Hornets Lakers Up Next

Created Tuesday, 20 May 2008 20:12

Spurs Down Hornets, Lakers Up Next

After the first two games of the series with New Orleans, the Spurs looked all but done.  Tim Duncan was battling the flu and played two of the worst games of his playoff career.  The Hornets looked like the younger and stronger team that was ready to take over the mantle of Best in the West—not to mention that winning on the road was  an all but impossible undertaking in this year’s playoffs.  The Spurs, however, are a veteran team, battle-tested, and seemingly able to pick up their game when the pressure is on.  Battling a younger team, and needing to win one game on the road to keep their defense of their championship alive was as pressure packed a situation as San Antonio would ever want to find themselves in, and they passed with flying colors.

Manu Ginobili led the Spurs with 26 points, making four free throws down the stretch to keep the Hornets at bay, while Tim Duncan added 16 points and 14 rebounds.  The Hornets looked done in the second half, finding themselves trailing by 17.  A furious rally, however, cut the lead down to just three points with under two minutes remaining.  The Hornets relied on the strategy that they had employed throughout the series, crowding and pressuring Duncan on the inside, and forcing the Spurs to beat them from long-range.  The strategy worked early in the series when the Spurs struggled from outside, but in the decisive Game 7, San Antonio hit 12 threes.

For the game, the Spurs did all the things that championship teams should do.  They hit 90% of their free throws, shot 42% from behind the arc, had 19 assists, outrebounded the Hornets by a significant margin, and held their opponents to just 23% from behind the arc.  The Spurs defense was not good enough to completely shut anyone down, just good enough to get the win.
Up next for San Antonio are the Lakers, holders of the best record in the West during the regular season.  LA will certainly be a strong test for the Spurs, being a veteran team themselves, perfectly capable of winning the championship themselves this year.  The Lakers’ trade for Pau Gasol late in the season has paid off tremendously, especially since they will be without the services of C, Andrew Bynum.

The series will get started Wednesday night, and should be a barn-burner.  Go Spurs!

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Spurs Against the Wall Game 6 Tonight

Created Thursday, 15 May 2008 16:33

 

The San Antonio Spurs up and down season comes down to tonight’s game at the AT&T Center.  Win, and the chance to defend their championship is still alive.  Lose, and they will stay home and watch with the rest of the country to find out who will claim their title.  The Spurs spotted the first two games of the series to the Hornets by a wide margin.  Tim Duncan was playing sick and had two terrible games, which gave New Orleans life, and put the Spurs in a deep hole.  Road teams have had virtually no chance in this year’s playoffs, which should give the Spurs confidence going into tonight’s game.  Unfortunately, should they win, game 7 will be in New Orleans on Monday night.

New Orleans inside presence will be weakened as Tyson Chandler and David West are both banged up. Chandler has a bruised foot, and West has a back injury.  That should mean that San Antonio will go early and often to Duncan, Oberto, Thomas, or whoever is playing inside.  Of course, David West was hurt for the last game as well, and still went off for 38 points, 14 rebounds, 5 blocks, and 5 assists.  Duncan had another off-night, only managing 10 points, but accounting for an amazing 23 rebounds.  Ginobili lead the team with 20 points, 2 rebounds, and 7 assists, but the game was a 101-79 blow-out as New Orleans took over in the second half to open a big lead.

Robert Horry set a new record with his participation in Game 5.  When he entered the game, he became the player to participate in the most playoff games in a career with 238.  He passed Kareem Abdul-Jabbar to become the leader in that category.

One thing San Antonio has never been able to do is to repeat as champions and successfully defend their title the following year.  After the 1999, 2003, and 2005 championships the team lost before reaching the Finals.  This year, the Spurs find themselves in a similar position with the season requiring them to win two straight to keep the dream alive.  This is the time of the season when the Spurs’ veteran leadership should come into play and allow them to at least push the series to a Game 7.  Winning in New Orleans is no small task, but first San Antonio must get through tonight’s home game to have a chance to defend their title.

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Spurs Sink Suns Stung By Hornets

Created Wednesday, 07 May 2008 21:54

Spurs Sink Suns Stung By Hornets

During the season, the Spurs/Suns rivalry was one of the more interesting, and with Phoenix adding Shaquille O’Neil just before the trade deadline, basketball fans were salivating over the matchup between the Southwest Conference rivals with many pundits seeing the series going seven games.  The Spurs, however, had different opinions.

The Spurs pulled out a hard-fought, 117-115 victory in Game 1 which saw Tim Duncan blow up for 40 points, 15 rebounds, and 5 assists.  The game was a classic between the two teams, going into double overtime, and Duncan hit a rare three pointer with three seconds left in the first overtime to extend the game.  In addition to Duncan’s effort, Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili added 26 and 24 points, respectively.  The game set the tone for the series, as the Spurs went on to win 4-1.

Game 5 was the Duncan/Parker show, as they were the only Spurs to score in double digits (29 and 31), but the team’s defense was the difference down the stretch.  Although the Suns were better offensively most of the night, the Spurs defense caused several costly turnovers late in the game.  That, combined with solid free throw shooting by Ginobili as time ran out, allowed the Spurs to advance to face the New Orleans Hornets, and sent the Suns back to the desert to ponder their future.

This season, the Spurs have been a bit schizophrenic, putting together runs where they look like the defending champs that they are, and other times where they have looked like a team struggling to make the playoffs.  Against the Suns, the good San Antonio Spurs showed up, and took the series fairly easily.  Against the Hornets, it seems that the bad Spurs have appeared, and after two games, San Antonio finds itself down 0-2 having been beaten soundly by the younger Hornets.  In Game 1, New Orleans’ interior defense held Tim Duncan to a career playoff low of 5 points and only 3 rebounds.  San Antonio’s star center was double teamed all night long, and although the Spurs hit 12 three pointers but shot 31 for the game, and New Orleans won a comfortable 101-82 victory.

Unfortunately for the Spurs, the New Orleans formula worked again for Game 2, as their double teams rattled the defending champs, forcing them to shoot from long range, where San Antonio made 8-27 from behind the arc.  Tim Duncan recovered from his miserable Game 1, scoring 18 points and grabbing 8 rebounds, but it wasn’t nearly enough.  Tony Parker scored 11, and Brent Barry added 14.  Unfortunately, the Spurs defense was not up to par, as New Orleans shot almost 60% from behind the three point line, and nearly 50 from the field.

The series has been lopsided so far, but digging out of a two game hole is still something that the veteran Spurs can do against the young Hornets, but it won’t be easy.  The Spurs have to ratchet up the defense that allowed them to be the feared playoff team that can shut down any team in the league.   To be able to move on to the next round in the playoffs, San Antonio will have to come up with some answer for Chris Paul.  So far the young guard has outplayed Tony Parker, while Tyson Chandler has been holding his own against Tim Duncan.

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