Although the Spurs had a good week last week, winning three out of four, the team fell into second place behind the surprising New Orleans Hornets. The half game lead that the Hornets have over San Antonio is due to N.O. having played a game more than the Spurs, although in head-to-head competition, the Spurs bested their conference foes two weeks ago.
The Spurs started the week off with a 113-88 thrashing of the Milwaukee Bucks in what was, oddly, a revenge game for the boys in black. Last year, the lowly Bucks swept the Spurs in their two regular-season games, so payback was certainly on the players’ minds. Tim Duncan scored 16 points with 10 rebounds to lead San Antonio who lead by as much as 40 points in the game. Manu Ginobili, who is averaging just under 20 points per game, scored 21 in the contest.
Two days later, the Spurs went up against the Lakers and perennial all-star/drama queen Kobe Bryant. Normally, stopping Bryant is almost impossible, so teams key in on shutting down the teams other players. With Bruce Bowen having a career night, holding Bryant to 18 points on 9-19 shooting (0-5 from 3-point range), the Spurs’ defensive specialist played the role of offensive guru for a change. Bowen was 6-6 from three point range, on his way to 23 points. Tony Parker lead the team with 26, as San Antonio cruised to a 107-92 win. Duncan had a terrible game, only scoring five points on 2-13 shooting.
Next up was an in-state, division battle with the Dallas Mavericks. If you were to look at the box score, everything would point to a San Antonio victory, but it was not to be. The Spurs’ defense held Dirk Nowitzki to only 3 points in the second half, and the San Antonio bench outscored Dallas’, yet it wasn’t enough as Dallas ripped off runs of 17-1 and 11-0 in the first half to build an insurmountable lead. Tony Parker only managed seven points in the game, and missed ten of his first eleven shots. Tim Duncan rebounded from one of the worst games of his career with a 24 point effort on 11 of 21 shooting. Michael Finley did not score, and San Antonio’s starters (aside from Duncan) only scored 15. Before the loss, the Spurs had won four straight.
After losing to one Texas team, the Spurs were able to avenge the loss against another division rival from just down the road by beating the Houston Rockets, 90-84. Earlier in the month, the Rockets gave the Spurs their first loss of the season when the won, 89-81. This night, the Rockets were without Tracy McGrady, but still gave San Antonio all they could handle. Tim Duncan denied the Rockets, as he went for a season high 25 points and 13 rebounds. The rest of the team managed to bounce back from the previous night’s lackluster performance. Michael Finley scored 17, Tony Parker had 14, and Ginobili came off the bench for 19.
The Spurs have looked great for the most part so far, but in a few key games the team has looked disturbingly tired and some key players have had horrible off-nights. The good news is that the team is just a half game out of first place, and after each loss has bounced back to rip off several wins in a row. Let’s hope that they get one of those streaks going this week!