With Tony Parker out nursing a shin contusion, Popovich started Cory Joseph in his place and moved Marco Belinelli into the starting lineup for Danny Green. The Spurs didn't look very sharp with this lineup, and Pop inserted Ginobili, Diaw, and Mills halfway through the quarter. The offense picked up, but the Spurs' defense continued to allow the Suns to score at a high clip. The Suns finished the quarter with 34 points on 60% shooting, including 5-of-5 from deep. Channing Frye was great, going 5-of-5 in the first five minutes of the game, and he finished the quarter a perfect 6-of-6 with half of his attempts from distance. The Suns looked Spurs-y in the first quarter, and nine of their 12 makes were assisted. I'm not sure why Jeff Hornacek kept Channing Frye on the bench for so long after his incredible first quarter. He spent the first eight minutes of the second on the pine. That long layoff may have cooled him down, or it could have been the Spurs deciding not to give him wide open looks, but he missed his only shot of the second and turned the ball over on another possession. Speaking of turnovers, the first half of this contest was filled with them, and the teams combined for 22. Both teams were also lacking on the defensive end, and they combined for 117 first half points. The Spurs took a one-point lead into the break. After another quarter of sloppy play by both teams the Spurs took a six point lead into the fourth. During the third this crazy sequence happened: That was quite the ugly sequence. First, we see Plumlee decide to press Patty, who then sends a so-so outlet-pass to Ginobili who manages to miss a bunny. Manu immediately realizes he isn't going to score, grabs his own miss, and then make a weird sidearm cross-court pass to Danny, who by the time the ball gets to him is no longer open, but he jacks up a shot anyway. The ball takes an awkward bounce into Splitter's hands (notice the furious Popovich that wants a reset), and he feeds it to Manu who makes a great pass to Danny. I guess...that was good? The Suns used a 10-0 run in the fourth quarter to take a two-point lead. Manu Ginobili had an all-hustle put-back to stop the bleeding for the Spurs, who had not scored in over four minutes, and had only scored four points in the first eight minutes of the fourth. This knotted the game at 95 apiece. Eric Bledsoe then tried to sell a foul, and when he didn't get the call, he committed a frustration foul. Ginobili knocked down a three after the inbounds to give the Spurs a three point advantage. Let's take a break from the game and talk about Manu Ginobili for a minute. The Manu had a great game tonight. What Manu brought tonight won't show up in the stat sheet, well, he did have a good night in a traditional sense, but more importantly, every time the Spurs needed a spark tonight , the Argentine delivered. Yes, he turned the ball over five times, but he kept his team in the game when they needed him, and he was the best player on the floor during the critical final-stretch of the game. I've seen enough of Manu this year to feel comfortable saying that he is having a bounce-back season. He looks strong and fearless, and his shot is falling. A resurgent Manu should cause the rest of the league to worry just a little.
Spurs finish strong, beat Suns 109-101
Pounding The Rock | Dec 19