Tea for Two

Game Recaps

By Sarah Cilea

“Throwing the ball into the post settles your offense.”

Jeff Van Gundy once offered this commentary while working a Spurs game.  It was Game 3 of the 2014 NBA Finals.  The Spurs had just dumped the ball down to Tim Duncan on the left block; he responded with one of his patented turnaround-jumper-off-glass buckets.

At the time there were about three minutes to play till halftime.  The Spurs were looking to settle their offense because the Heat had just put together a run… and pulled within 15.

The circumstances were a little different Sunday night, a mid-January meeting between Texas teams.  The frost that San Antonians had awoken to Sunday morning seemed to still be hanging over the AT&T Center.  Both the Spurs and Mavericks started the game so cold that they combined for just 30 points in the first quarter.

Patty Mills threw a pass to David Robinson, sitting courtside in the second row.  It was only a few feet or about 13 years removed from landing in the hands of an active Spur.  Tony Parker rifled another off LaMarcus Aldridge’s head.  Boris Diaw attempted a three-pointer that hit nothing but the bottom of the net–from the outside.  Everything was a struggle and nothing was beautiful.

About the only part of the Spurs’ attack that did go well in the early going was a pair of Diaw buckets in the paint late in the first quarter.  It came as no surprise.

Over nearly four years with the Spurs, Diaw has cemented himself as a skeleton key of sorts.  When the Spurs’ offense finds itself locked up, Diaw routinely opens up the floor and the scoring.  With a little shimmy–an upfake here, a fadeaway there, above all, a thorough understanding of how to best use his body–Diaw creates an advantage.  He scores for himself, and creates inside-out opportunities for teammates.

His approach is deliberate.  There’s no hurry.  He always takes his time, and chaos dissolves into calm.

Last summer the Spurs laid out another place setting.  And during the third quarter of Sunday’s contest with the Mavericks, Aldridge pulled up a chair at Diaw’s tea party.  After he scored his first bucket of the quarter by collecting an errant Duncan shot and laying it home, the Spurs realized they should start serving him.

Over the next nine possessions the Spurs repeatedly fed Aldridge the ball.  Neither JaVale McGee, Dirk Nowitzki, Charlie Villanueva, nor anyone in the Mavericks’ organization had an answer.  In little more than four minutes Aldridge had scored 13 points in the quarter and extended what was an eight-point lead to 15.

Diaw entered to continue the good work, and the the game completely opened up for the Spurs.  They scored 98 points over the final three quarters, led by Aldridge’s 23 and Diaw’s 16.  Kawhi Leonard, who also got himself going in the post, had 15, and Jonathon Simmons scored 14 with a balanced inside-out attack that included going 2-for-2 from three.

In the end the Spurs rolled to a 112-83 victory, with the bench extending the lead in the fourth quarter and having no small amount of fun (see: Anderson-Green oop, Simmons wearing airplane wings better than Jason Terry ever did, Boban “taunting”) along the way.

The glacial start felt like a distant memory, and a couple of big men reminded everyone that a cold snap, even in-game, is often the perfect time for a tea break.

Big Three Signal Appears in the Detroit Sky, Spurs’ Vets Answer

Game Recaps

By Sarah Cilea

It was a rare sight.  Kawhi Leonard missing shots from three-point range–and from the mid-range, and the paint–has happened so infrequently this season that it feels like an anomaly on par with Halley’s Comet.  But it exists, rarity or not.  On Tuesday night, Leonard’s missed shots streaked across the court at the Palace of Auburn Hills clear as day.  He shot 1-of-7 and finished with fewer than ten points for just the second time this season.

With Leonard struggling to his worst game since the above mentioned cheesesteak sandwich was still in his system, a few familiar faces stepped out of the shadows to pick up the slack en route to a 109-99 victory.

Led by Tony Parker’s 31, the trio of Parker, Ginobili and Duncan combined for 60 points.  It was the first time their total scoring output hit that threshold since February 19, 2015 against the Clippers.

For his part, Parker was remarkable.  His most impressive stretch came when he opened the third quarter shooting a perfect 7-for-7 for 14 points in under five minutes.

 

His outburst helped to extend a halftime cushion.  When that cushion disappeared he returned early in the fourth quarter and was instrumental in closing the game.  Parker scored his season high on 13-of-19 shooting with four rebounds and three assists.

He also contributed to holding known Spur-killer Reggie Jackson to 3-of-13 shooting and five turnovers.  Parker not only fought over screens and pursued Jackson relentlessly, but his constant attack on the offensive end also wore on Jackson in demoralizing fashion.

Duncan had a strong all-around game.  He finished with 14 points (5-of-8), nine rebounds, three assists, four steals, two blocks, and essentially played young Pistons’ center and surefire future All-Star Andre Drummond to a standstill.

 

When Drummond sat with foul trouble, Duncan got reacquainted with former Spur Aron Baynes.

 

Baynes is no featherweight.  His solid frame leaning on a 39-year-old with a bad knee is not an ideal scenario for the Spurs.  It’s one reason, as Sean Elliott recalls only half jokingly, Gregg Popovich used to make sure Baynes and Duncan were on the same team when the Spurs scrimmaged.  But Duncan was not entirely inexperienced coming into Tuesday night, and he took care of the big Aussie about as well as he did outside that club in LA last summer.

Ginobili rounded out their triumvirate with 15 points, five rebounds, two assists, a block and a steal.  For a guy whose coach would rather he not play in any back-to-backs, he just put together a fine showing.  The two days off prior to the b2b probably helped, and Ginobili looked fresh.  He got plenty of lift out of his legs and shot the ball with a nice arc.

Ginobili went 2-of-5 from three in Detroit.  In fairness, two of those were attempts to beat the buzzer at the end of the first and second quarters, though he did manufacture a decent look on the latter of the two.

While the Big Three put together a vintage performance, their output was supplemented by another 22 points and 13 rebounds from LaMarcus Aldridge.  Aldridge beasted through the back-to-back with at least 20 and 10 on better than 50 percent shooting both nights.  His rapport with his teammates is growing and he’s starting to look as comfortable as a sheep on a Serta mattress.

All this underlines the ability that fills out this Spurs’ roster and the potential it gives the team.  Much has been made about a Next Three, or a new Big Two, or Kawhi Leonard taking the reins.  He and LaMarcus will have to be very good for the Spurs to get where they want to go.  But along the way they can afford an off night here and there.  This team is still built to share the burden and after all, the Big Three are still around.

“There are so many weapons on this team; it can be anyone any night.” – Tony Parker

Grades; San Antonio Spurs 106, Brooklyn Nets 79

Grades
San Antonio Spurs 106 Final
Recap | Box Score
79 Brooklyn Nets
LaMarcus Aldridge, PF 28 MIN | 12-17 FG | 0-0 3FG | 1-1 FT | 11 REB | 2 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 25 PTS | +21 +/-LA ruled the day. While his teammates started a little cold, Aldridge had everything going. In the first quarter he shot 5-of-6 for 10 points and five rebounds. His five makes were as pure as they come, nothing but the bottom. Aldridge’s teammates recognized who had the hot hand. He stayed aggressive and involved throughout the game for a highly efficient, All-Star performance.

Kawhi Leonard, SF 30 MIN | 6-14 FG | 2-5 3FG | 3-3 FT | 8 REB | 0 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 17 PTS | +19 +/-Kawhi didn’t get many touches early because LaMarcus was rolling. Perhaps as a result, he forced a few attempts. But he settled into the game nicely, working into rhythm with a baseline drive for a reverse layup and a backdoor cut for the lob from Timmy. When the Nets went on a 6-0 run to begin the fourth quarter, Kawhi came back in the game and hit two threes to put things right.

Tim Duncan, C 22 MIN | 4-7 FG | 0-0 3FG | 0-0 FT | 4 REB | 2 AST | 1 STL | 2 BLK | 1 TO | 8 PTS | +11 +/-Brook Lopez got off to a hot start but Duncan did a better job making the Nets’ center work when they matched up again in the second quarter. He made himself available under the basket for a couple easy points when Aldridge got doubled and filled a lane for a nice feed from Parker. He also hit a mid-range jumper, the first I’ve seen him make in a while. That’s always a good sign for the Spurs.

Tony Parker, PG 25 MIN | 2-7 FG | 0-0 3FG | 2-2 FT | 1 REB | 4 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 2 TO | 6 PTS | +21 +/-He uncharacteristically failed to finish some nice drives. Even his bread-and-butter floater hopped out on him. He did a fair job setting the table. Having had five days off before the Knicks game and another two before the game in Brooklyn, it was probably most important for him to get up and down the floor a few times. We’ll see how he looks on the back end of the back-to-back in Detroit.

Danny Green, SG 20 MIN | 0-4 FG | 0-3 3FG | 0-0 FT | 1 REB | 3 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 0 PTS | +19 +/-Not a great night for Danny offensively but he defended well. One of the holes that has sometimes popped up in his defense is a tendency overrun the shooter and take himself out of plays. He’s done a much better job of late just staying in control and contesting the shot. It’s that kind of defensive balance (among other things, of course) that makes Kawhi so great.

David West, PF 15 MIN | 4-5 FG | 0-0 3FG | 0-0 FT | 2 REB | 1 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 2 TO | 8 PTS | +5 +/-He didn’t have the length to bother Brook Lopez, who was rolling early, but he was a stabilizing force with a group of youngsters trying to maintain the lead in the fourth quarter. Don’t look now but he’s shooting 55.8 percent from the floor this season.

Kyle Anderson, SF 17 MIN | 1-2 FG | 0-1 3FG | 3-4 FT | 4 REB | 3 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 5 PTS | +7 +/-Kyle got to return to his roots and play some point guard in a lineup with Green, Bonner, West and Marjanovic for a few minutes in the fourth quarter. Unsurprisingly, he was plenty comfortable bringing the ball up and initiating the offense. He’ll create no matter where he is on the floor though, and he did so in this game setting up West and Marjanovic for easy buckets.

Boban Marjanovic, C 13 MIN | 5-7 FG | 0-0 3FG | 3-5 FT | 3 REB | 1 AST | 0 STL | 2 BLK | 1 TO | 13 PTS | +8 +/-The Spurs were up 11 when Marjanovic entered the game with 5:09 remaining in the third quarter. By the time the quarter ended the Spurs owned a 21-point lead. Coincidence? I think not. Marjanovic had 7 points and assisted on a Manu three in that span. By the time the last few minutes of the game rolled around–after he had thrown a no-look bounce pass to Danny, collected an offensive rebound and dunked home the follow all in one possession–the borough of Brooklyn had become another of Boban’s conquests. Fans with floor seats were grabbing their heads in awe and holding up their hands for high fives. Is there no heart Boban can’t win?

Matt Bonner, C 7 MIN | 0-1 FG | 0-0 3FG | 0-0 FT | 0 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 0 PTS | +2 +/-His lone attempt was a tough one, and it provided Boban an offensive rebound that led to another of his thundering, crowd pleasing dunks. Matt’s just giving the people what they want.

Boris Diaw, C 18 MIN | 4-7 FG | 1-1 3FG | 2-4 FT | 3 REB | 4 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 11 PTS | +9 +/-Still bullying his way to productive scoring nights down low, and he somehow got a three ball that hit several parts of the rim to drop. He’s currently shooting 39.5 percent on 38 attempts from three this season, up from 32 percent last year. Got to keep the defense honest.

Patty Mills, PG 16 MIN | 1-4 FG | 0-2 3FG | 0-0 FT | 0 REB | 2 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 2 PTS | +4 +/-Patty hasn’t scored or even shot much in the past three games. He’s 1-of-9 from the floor in that span, though he does have seven assists to one turnover. Maybe he’s turning over a new leaf and becoming a pass-first point guard. Okay, not really. But the team’s been winning and his shooting hasn’t really been needed. That could change soon.

Jonathon Simmons, SG 11 MIN | 1-2 FG | 0-0 3FG | 0-0 FT | 2 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 2 PTS | +2 +/-Not much burn for the rookie tonight but he showed no fear in defending Joe Johnson and came up with a nice dunk on the other end. It wasn’t one of those uncontested dunks, either. He just drove to the rim and powered over anyone daring to get in his way.

Manu Ginobili, SG 18 MIN | 4-5 FG | 1-1 3FG | 0-0 FT | 1 REB | 5 AST | 2 STL | 0 BLK | 2 TO | 9 PTS | +7 +/-Hard to see how he could’ve been much better in his 18 minutes. He orchestrated beautifully for his teammates, especially Boban, shot the ball well and even came up with a couple steals.

Gregg Popovich
Spread the minutes around on the first night of a b2b and gave Kyle Anderson minutes at point guard in the fourth. That’s fun.

One Thing We Saw

  1. he Spurs really made a point of getting the ball to Aldridge after his hot start. At times they struggled to make the entry pass and committed a few turnovers trying to go to him, but the effort was commendable.

Player Grades: San Antonio Spurs 100, New York Knicks 99

Grades
New York Knicks 99 Final
Recap | Box Score
100 San Antonio Spurs
LaMarcus Aldridge, PF 34 MIN | 8-17 FG | 0-0 3FG | 0-0 FT | 9 REB | 2 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 2 TO | 16 PTS | -6 +/-Started slow and let Kristaps Porzingis get the better of him, but then realized he’s much stronger than the rookie, and buried him under the basket. Did a good job recognizing different match-ups and attacking accordingly, taking Porzingis into the post and Robin Lopez out for his face-up game.

Kawhi Leonard, SF 37 MIN | 8-19 FG | 0-2 3FG | 3-4 FT | 12 REB | 0 AST | 2 STL | 2 BLK | 1 TO | 19 PTS | -4 +/-This season Kawhi has unveiled some Jordanesque moments, like when the drove into Porzingis’ body, took the contact, and flipped the ball over his shoulder with perfect body control for the finish. But, perhaps, more than the highlights is the Jordanesque ability to destroy someone’s will, harassing Carmelo Anthony to the point where, on several possessions (including the last), he simply refused to shoot.

Tim Duncan, C 21 MIN | 3-5 FG | 0-0 3FG | 1-2 FT | 5 REB | 1 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 2 TO | 7 PTS | +6 +/-Continues to fill the gaps as needed in limited minutes, doing all the dirty work.

Tony Parker, PG 32 MIN | 7-16 FG | 0-2 3FG | 2-2 FT | 5 REB | 8 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 16 PTS | +2 +/-Tony Parker continues to do a fantastic job of picking his spots, taking full advantage of his match-up with Jose Calderon. The Parker-Aldridge high pick and roll works as a reliable end of shot clock weapon, freeing one of the two for an open midrange jumper, which helped to hold off the Knicks.

Danny Green, SG 35 MIN | 3-9 FG | 2-3 3FG | 0-0 FT | 4 REB | 3 AST | 2 STL | 3 BLK | 2 TO | 8 PTS | +8 +/-The focus on Green this season has been on his shooting woes, and though he shots just 3-for-9, he hit 2-for-3 from deep. But his defense has been invaluable to this dominant Spurs’ team. How frustrating must it be, if you’re Carmelo Anthony, to be hounded by Kawhi Leonard all game, and finally break free, only to get blocked by Green?

David West, PF 16 MIN | 2-6 FG | 0-0 3FG | 2-2 FT | 4 REB | 2 AST | 0 STL | 3 BLK | 0 TO | 6 PTS | +8 +/-Reliable source of physical defense, some floor spacing and ball movement, and a far more intimidating “I didn’t foul” face than Duncan making his eyes bigger.

Boris Diaw, C 18 MIN | 3-6 FG | 0-0 3FG | 2-2 FT | 4 REB | 1 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 8 PTS | +3 +/-His post game has become the point of attack for the second unit, taking advantage of a smaller NBA more than guys like Lance Thomas can return the favor.

Patty Mills, PG 16 MIN | 0-1 FG | 0-1 3FG | 2-2 FT | 0 REB | 3 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 2 PTS | -1 +/-Didn’t get many attempts, but moved the ball and pressured on defense.

Jonathon Simmons, SG 9 MIN | 1-2 FG | 0-0 3FG | 0-1 FT | 1 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 2 PTS | -8 +/-Appeared to be part of some lineups that struggled to move the ball and score, and while that’s not all directly attributed to him, he did little to impact the game in his time on the floor.

Manu Ginobili, SG 22 MIN | 6-12 FG | 2-5 3FG | 2-2 FT | 5 REB | 3 AST | 0 STL | 1 BLK | 0 TO | 16 PTS | -3 +/-Might we see Manu Ginobili collect one more Sixth Man of the Year award for the road? Whether via scoring, pace, or playmaking, Ginobili continues to come in and change the dynamics of a game to the Spurs’ advantage in a way that his box score statistics don’t always give him credit for. Had a beautiful, vintage knifing drive he took directly at Porzingis for the lefty lay-in.

Gregg Popovich
Showed adequate disdain for defensive lapses, and absent any glaring errors, this defaults to A.

Three Things We Saw

  1. Kristaps Porzingis is a special player. Early on he gave LaMarcus Aldridge fits, pulling him away from the basket for three-pointers and disorienting the Spurs’ defense. The combination of small forward skills in a large, long frame is almost unprecedented. Only a lack of experience and strength are currently holding him back.
  2. If everyone attacked life with half the ambition of a Robin Lopez post-up attempt, the world would be a better place.
  3. There was some debate last night on whether the Knicks should have called a timeout to setup a final shot. The argument here is that it was the right move against the NBA’s best defense, and that an (by NBA standards) open corner three-pointer from a quality shooter is the best one might hope for. The Spurs were fortunate it didn’t fall after Ginobili helped from one pass away on a drive that Leonard had already all but swallowed up.

A Year Later, Spurs Flex Newfound Depth Against Jazz

Game Recaps

Quin Snyder’s Utah Jazz are a disciplined, hard-playing, and talented group.  Unfortunately, they’ve also been bit by the injury bug.  Having lost guard Dante Exum to an ACL tear as he prepared for FIBA Oceania before the NBA season began, and finding themselves without three more players (Alec Burks, Derrick Favors, and Rudy Gobert) who had accounted for nearly 40 points per game this season,  to stop the Spurs from improving to 21-0 in San Antonio was too much to ask on this night.  The Spurs rolled to victory, shooting 60 percent from the field and handing out 34 assists.  A season high eight Spurs scored in double figures and the team topped 120 points for a third straight game.

Considering the score, some of the games within the game were more interesting than the contest itself.  Here’s a look at a few.

San Antonio Spurs 123, Utah Jazz 98

Grades
Utah Jazz 98 Final
Recap | Box Score
123 San Antonio Spurs
David West, PF 25 MIN | 7-8 FG | 0-0 3FG | 0-0 FT | 13 REB | 4 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 14 PTS | +20 +/-David West is starting to find his comfort zone with his new team. Or, perhaps, they are starting to find their comfort zone with his, having changed to a style more suited to West’s physical play. Absolutely buried Trey Lyles under the basket on a high-low combination with Tim Duncan. West hit a few jumpers and bullied and spun his way for a basket or two while providing physical defense and cleaning the glass.

Kawhi Leonard, SF 23 MIN | 6-11 FG | 2-4 3FG | 1-1 FT | 4 REB | 3 AST | 2 STL | 0 BLK | 2 TO | 15 PTS | +14 +/-Kawhi Leonard is officially the perimeter version of Tim Duncan–so reliable that it’s easy to take performances like these for granted.

Tim Duncan, C 26 MIN | 8-13 FG | 0-0 3FG | 2-2 FT | 8 REB | 6 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 18 PTS | +27 +/-This was the game that coach’s dreams are made of. The most important post work is done before a big man even touches the ball. Duncan ran the floor hard, beating younger, more athletic players down the court to establish great position, sealing defenders as he accepted quick entry passes for easy baskets. He tipped rebounds to areas where only he could get them. And he made exquisite reads and passes from the high post.

Patty Mills, PG 23 MIN | 0-4 FG | 0-2 3FG | 0-0 FT | 0 REB | 2 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 0 PTS | +13 +/-The night belonged to others.

Danny Green, SG 11 MIN | 2-3 FG | 2-2 3FG | 0-0 FT | 0 REB | 2 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 6 PTS | +7 +/-Hit two corner three-pointers and was solid enough on defense, which is enough to merit a B in just 11 minutes.

Kyle Anderson, SF 19 MIN | 6-9 FG | 0-0 3FG | 1-1 FT | 3 REB | 2 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 13 PTS | +7 +/-Does a great job of using his body to create space, had a nice dump-off pass to Tim Duncan.

Rasual Butler, SF 6 MIN | 1-2 FG | 0-1 3FG | 0-0 FT | 0 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 2 PTS | +6 +/-Lost his spot in the rotation, but remains a reliable insurance option at the end of the rotation.

Boban Marjanovic, C 19 MIN | 5-7 FG | 0-0 3FG | 3-6 FT | 7 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 1 BLK | 0 TO | 13 PTS | -3 +/-Stephen Curry is often considered the most marketable player due to how relatable he is to the everyman. But what’s more relatable than destroying a smaller, younger sibling under a Nerf hoop? Which is what Boban does every night.

Matt Bonner, C 7 MIN | 1-3 FG | 1-2 3FG | 0-0 FT | 0 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 3 PTS | +4 +/-#LetBonnerShoot – When a teammate delivers the type of pass that Jonathon Simmons fired off in traffic from under the rim, you have to connect on it. Matt Bonner did. Winners all around.

Boris Diaw, C 16 MIN | 1-2 FG | 0-1 3FG | 0-0 FT | 1 REB | 6 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 2 PTS | +1 +/-Diaw probably enjoyed this game, with six assists to just two shots, to any of the higher scoring outputs he’s had recently.

Ray McCallum, PG 25 MIN | 4-7 FG | 0-1 3FG | 2-2 FT | 0 REB | 3 AST | 2 STL | 1 BLK | 1 TO | 10 PTS | +12 +/-Pushed the ball up the floor, stepped confidently into jumpers, and had a nice zipper cut. McCallum wasn’t spectacular, but he was a credit to the Spurs’ development system in Austin.

Jonathon Simmons, SG 17 MIN | 5-7 FG | 2-4 3FG | 1-1 FT | 0 REB | 1 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 3 TO | 13 PTS | +9 +/-Simmons’ confidence is starting to snowball, and he finally let a few three-pointers fly freely; including one off the bounce. For a second consecutive game, the rookie has an amazing block negated by a dubious call. Something to watch–he appears to becoming more accustomed to the length and physicality of the league, finishing through contact.

Manu Ginobili, SG 23 MIN | 6-10 FG | 2-4 3FG | 0-0 FT | 2 REB | 5 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 4 TO | 14 PTS | +8 +/-It’s amazing that this is still a typical Manu night.

Gregg Popovich
Got his starters some valuable rest and the Spurs’ younger players important development time on the court.

Three Things We Saw

  1. After a slow start, the offense is starting to dial up to ridiculous levels, scoring 123 in back-to-back games. While they’re no longer the same three-happy spread pick and roll attack, the same principles of movement and execution apply, creating wide open shots from their players’ favorite spots.
  2. Concerns that the Spurs sacrificed too much depth have proven to be unfounded. Jonathon Simmons is a legitimate rotation player, Boban Marjanovic can be terrifyingly productive against certain match-ups, Kyle Anderson fits, and even Ray McCallum is coming along.
  3. Jonathon Simmons would be the best backcourt player on the Philadelphia 76ers. He’d be a rotation player for almost any team in the league. The Spurs picked him up out of nowhere. It’s just not fair.
Jan 4, 2016; Milwaukee, WI, USA;   San Antonio Spurs guard Jonathon Simmons (17) dunks a basket in the fourth quarter during the game against the Milwaukee Bucks at BMO Harris Bradley Center. Mandatory Credit: Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports

The Secret Origins Of Jonathon Simmons

Game Recaps

It has been some time since the San Antonio Spurs needed any introductions. The core of the team has been together for several years, the Big Three since the dawn of time, and the biggest offseason acquisitions (LaMarcus Aldridge and David West) are tried-and-true veterans. 

Jonathon Simmons, however, is a relative mystery. When the undrafted rookie out of the University of Houston—having toiled away at a now defunct professional league, and for the Austin Toros—stepped to the free throw line for his first points in Milwaukee

during the second quarter, he was a curiosity greeted with good-natured heckling. 

After Simmons helped break open a close game with 12 points in the second quarter (4-for-5 shooting from the field, 4-for-5 from the free throw line), including a series of vicious dunks, Simmons was the first name off everyone’s lips. 

Jan 4, 2016; Milwaukee, WI, USA;  San Antonio Spurs center Boris Diaw (33) passes the ball around Milwaukee Bucks center Greg Monroe (15) in the fourth quarter at BMO Harris Bradley Center. Mandatory Credit: Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports

San Antonio Spurs 123, Milwaukee Bucks 98

Grades
San Antonio Spurs 123 Final

Recap | Box Score

98 Milwaukee Bucks
LaMarcus Aldridge, PF 30 MIN | 6-14 FG | 0-0 3FG | 4-5 FT | 11 REB | 1 AST | 0 STL | 1 BLK | 1 TO | 16 PTS | +11 +/- In lieu of being the go-to-feed-him-every-possession guy, Aldridge has proven adept at doing the dirty work. He worked the glass against Milwaukee’s length all game. Two of his three first quarter field goals were the product of offensive rebounds, including an explosive put-back dunk over the Greek Freak. He stayed engaged and got himself involved when the ball went elsewhere and that’s a great sign for the Spurs.

Kawhi Leonard, SF 31 MIN | 9-12 FG | 3-5 3FG | 3-3 FT | 2 REB | 1 AST | 2 STL | 1 BLK | 4 TO | 24 PTS | +17 +/- The Bucks tried to run away with the first quarter but he wouldn’t let them. He scored 11 of his 24 in the opening frame to keep things close. The shooting numbers are just getting obscene. 24 points on 12 shots? 75 percent from the floor, 60 percent from three and perfect from the free throw line? And it’s how he’s doing it. He’s taking hand-offs from Duncan down the baseline for a dunk and pulling up over Giannis for three. He swaggered his way into a would-be three at the end of the first quarter that would’ve tied the game at 30 if not for a toe on the line. Just nonchalantly walked into it. That’s where we are right now.

Tim Duncan, C 27 MIN | 7-12 FG | 0-0 3FG | 0-1 FT | 10 REB | 4 AST | 2 STL | 1 BLK | 1 TO | 14 PTS | +12 +/- In case anyone was worried about Duncan (really?) after his scoreless outing against the Rockets, don’t fret. He came right back with this ridiculous line against one of the youngest, most athletic teams in the league.

Patty Mills, PG 28 MIN | 3-7 FG | 3-5 3FG | 1-2 FT | 1 REB | 5 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 10 PTS | +20 +/-He was at an obvious disadvantage trying to guard the 6-foot-6 Michael Carter-Williams, but he held his own well enough. 10 pts, 5 ast, 3-5 3PT, and just one turnover in a rare appearance as starter is not a bad night at all.

Danny Green, SG 14 MIN | 1-6 FG | 1-5 3FG | 0-0 FT | 2 REB | 1 AST | 1 STL | 1 BLK | 1 TO | 3 PTS | -2 +/-Jonathon Simmons turning the second quarter into a dunk contest probably ate into Danny’s minutes, and that’s fine. Simmons’s driving ability was more effective against the Bucks tonight. Danny still made some plays defensively. More than missing shots, the disappointment after his breakout night in the previous game was that he clearly hesitated on a few shots, as he’s done too often during his slump this year. Hopefully it’s not a sign that he’s back to over-thinking. Then again, Milwaukee’s length might make anyone think twice. We’ll chalk it up to that for tonight.

David West, PF 15 MIN | 5-9 FG | 0-0 3FG | 0-0 FT | 1 REB | 3 AST | 1 STL | 1 BLK | 0 TO | 10 PTS | +5 +/-Just solid. It was fun to watch him and Boban Marjanovic work together for about five minutes in the fourth quarter. In a stretch that lasted a little over a minute, Marjanovic assisted on two consecutive West buckets before West returned the favor on a Marjanovic dunk.

Kyle Anderson, SF 9 MIN | 1-2 FG | 0-1 3FG | 0-0 FT | 2 REB | 2 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 2 PTS | 0 +/-Didn’t get much time tonight but showed off a little of his typical all-around game while he was in.

Boban Marjanovic, C 5 MIN | 1-2 FG | 0-0 3FG | 0-0 FT | 3 REB | 2 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 2 PTS | +3 +/-It’s already been established that the guy can play but it’s still eye-opening how skilled he is at that size, his vision and the way he surveys the floor.

Matt Bonner, C 3 MIN | 0-1 FG | 0-0 3FG | 0-0 FT | 0 REB | 0 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 0 PTS | +1 +/- Missed his only shot in three minutes but came up with the steal that kept Milwaukee from scoring 100. A for you, Red Mamba.

Boris Diaw, C 19 MIN | 6-8 FG | 0-1 3FG | 2-2 FT | 4 REB | 2 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 14 PTS | +19 +/- Boris has been in an aggressive stretch lately, and mostly to great effect. Tonight was no different as he worked the high-low and tested Milwaukee’s defense for vulnerabilities throughout. Stay a while, Aggressive Bobo.

Ray McCallum, PG 17 MIN | 1-2 FG | 0-1 3FG | 0-0 FT | 1 REB | 4 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 2 PTS | +6 +/-Popovich broke from his usual pattern in choosing to bring McCallum off the bench and start Mills, rather than leave the usual bench unit in tact. He often shared primary ball-handler duties with Ginobili and only took two shots, one of which (the lone three) he missed badly. But I thought he acquitted himself nicely, looking up the floor to advance the ball and helping the bigs secure the defensive rebound.

Jonathon Simmons, SG 20 MIN | 6-7 FG | 0-0 3FG | 6-7 FT | 3 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 18 PTS | +21 +/- The rookie can play. Jeff McDonald of SAEN noted that a group of Bucks fans chanted “WHO ARE YOU?” at Simmons during his first appearance. Simmons wasted no time providing an answer, sparking an instant 10-0 run and helping the Spurs to a 27-12 advantage in his 9:03 of play in the second quarter. He put a lot of pressure on the Bucks’ defense, relentlessly attacking the rim, and defended tenaciously as usual. He was absolutely robbed of a highlight block against Michael Carter-Williams by a poor call. His 18 points are a career high.

Manu Ginobili, SG 22 MIN | 3-8 FG | 2-2 3FG | 0-0 FT | 4 REB | 7 AST | 2 STL | 0 BLK | 2 TO | 8 PTS | +12 +/- Manu was everywhere. Hitting threes, stealing the ball, setting the table for others, selling out to tap a loose ball ahead to Kawhi on the break. Great Manu game. Fun fact: he somehow shot a perfect 2-of-2 from three while throwing a pump-fake before both of them. Tough.

Gregg Popovich
Is this thing pre-coded to give Pop an A+? I swear I didn’t touch it but who am I to change it? In all seriousness, I like that he went to and rolled with Simmons early.

Jan 2, 2016; San Antonio, TX, USA; San Antonio Spurs power forward LaMarcus Aldridge (12) dunks the ball against the Houston Rockets during the second half at AT&T Center. Mandatory Credit: Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports

San Antonio Spurs 121, Houston Rockets 103

Grades

For the game recap, click here.

By Sarah Cilea

Kawhi Leonard | A

In a rare occurrence, Kawhi failed to log a single steal or block.  But he had an almost sneaky good performance on offense.  Despite drawing double-teams consistently, Leonard scored an efficient 22 points on 8-of-12 shooting (2-of-2 from three) with six rebounds and two assists.  He telegraphed a few passes out of the double in the second half, but the more practice he gets in those situations during the regular season, the better.


 

LaMarcus Aldridge | A

LaMarcus Aldridge was huge.  He got a nice boost from an early stint with Patty Mills, Manu Ginobili, David West and Danny Green, scoring eight points in a row from 3:37 to the 2:06 mark of the first quarter via some nice ball movement.  After that, he was in All-Star form, scoring 11 of the Spurs’ 36 points in a game-changing third quarter.  He finished with a game high 24 points (10-of-16, 4-of-4 FT), nine rebounds,and two steals. As Tom Orsborn of the SA Express-News pointed out on Twitter, this and Wednesday’s game vs the Suns mark the first consecutive 20-point outings of the season for Aldridge.   

Danny Green, San Antonio Spurs

Danny Green Awakens

Game Recaps

Danny Green and the San Antonio Spurs have always had a symbiotic relationship. The shooting guard provides room for his teammates to operate, and in return, they supply him with the shots he struggles to create for himself.

For years, Green has functioned as something of a barometer for the Spurs’ motion-heavy offense. When the ball is freely flowing, and the system right, Green is a devastating off-ball threat.

When the ball sticks, and the offense sputters, Green’s statistical output plummets.

This season, the Spurs have a new team with a different offensive hierarchy–which can be trouble for a player so reliant and in-tune with the old one. Shooters are creatures of habit, and in the Spurs’ new post and isolation-prominent attack, Green has had to adjust to an entirely different way of getting his shots. The lanes through which he navigated his off-ball choreography have fundamentally changed, warped to accommodate the addition of LaMarcus Aldridge, and Kawhi Leonard’s (22 points, six rebounds, two assists) new status.