The Spurs are back and are on fire! For what seems like the first time this season, the team finally has all of its parts back and it shows. Tony Parker finally returned to the court after a long absence, and although he has not quite regained his pre-injury form yet, he has been playing and as a result, the Spurs have won 6 in a row, and 9 of the last 10. In addition, San Antonio has regained first place in the Southwest division, although the race, which features four teams within 2.5 games of the lead, remains the tightest in the league. Rivals, New Orleans and Dallas remain just one game back, while Houston is 2.5.
After their Rodeo Road Trip followed by the All-Star break, the Spurs were happy to get back to the friendly confines of their home court. The game against the Charlotte Bobcats was the first they played at home in three weeks, but the end result was the same as when most teams visit San Antonio…a Spurs win. The game certainly wasn’t a thing of beauty, but the home team did get the 85-65 win. Manu Ginobili lead the team with 18 points, and Duncan had 15 rebounds. San Antonio completely dominated the glass, 54-38, and the tough Spurs’ defense held the visitors to only 28% shooting from the field. Tim Duncan had an off night scoring, only managing two baskets, but made up for it on the other end of the court with 5 blocks.
Minnesota is one of the worst teams in the league, so a close game might not have been expected. Expectations and reality, however, are often vastly different. It took a heroic effort by Ginobili to escape Minnesota with a win. In addition to his 44 points, the Argentine hit the game winner with just over 6 seconds left on the clock to get the victory. Any other night, Tim Duncan’s 24 points, 14 rebounds, and 7 assists would have been the story, but Ginnobili stole the headlines with his performance. The game also marked the return of Tony Parker, who played sparingly, and scored 8 points.
Just before the trade deadline ended, the Spurs made a move to try to keep up with the arms race that is going on in the West. San Antonio added Kurt Thomas to the line up.
The next game up for the Spurs brought division rival, New Orleans to town, and a game between two teams tied for first in the division. The Spurs had rough patches in the game, at one point going 8:30 without hitting a basket, but managed to get hot at the right time to pull out the 98-89 win. Ginobili continued his hot shooting, scoring 30, while Duncan added 25 points and 11 rebounds. The Spurs shot 100% from the free throw line in the game.
The game against the Hawks was the first game featuring Kurt Thomas in a Spurs’ uniform, and although the veteran only played 13 minutes, he showed why he was brought in by scoring four points and grabbing 9 rebounds. Tim Duncan led the Spurs to the 89-74 victory by scoring 23 points and 10 rebounds. Tony Parker continued to regain his form, playing 28 minutes and scoring 15 points and dishing out 9 assists.
The Spurs have finally gotten everyone healthy and have put a run together since the All-Star break to regain the division lead. Fans have to feel relieved to have Tony Parker back in the line up, and excited to see what Kurt Thomas can bring to the table. If the Spurs are to defend their championship this year, it will perhaps be the toughest road they have faced. Western rivals have upgraded, with Dallas bringing in Jason Kidd, the Lakers getting Pau Gasol, and the Suns trading for Shaquille O’Neil. Hopefully, the Spurs’ injury problems are all in the past, and the team can continue to keep up the winning ways it has established since the break.