The Spurs had finished a long road trip. It was nine games in 25 days and while that’s a nice stretch of time to spend away from home, a game every 2.8 days is not an especially taxing grind by NBA standards.
A reasonable expectation would have been for the Spurs, owners of the NBA’s best record, to return home to San Antonio and throttle the Phoenix Suns, who are tied for last place in the Western Conference.
Phoenix 105, San Antonio 101.
That was Wednesday, in overtime, in a game the Spurs led by nine with less than four minutes left. That, obviously, is a game the Spurs will go ahead and close out nine times out of 10, but you wonder sometimes if the Spurs ever get bored by their own mechanical greatness. It’s the same thing every year with these guys. They’re so coldly efficient, and coach Gregg Popovich manages the regular season so well that having the best record in the NBA is neither surprising not particularly interesting for this franchise.
“We got relaxed after such a long road trip,” Manu Ginobili said.
And who can’t identify with the desire to just come home and crash after a long trip out of town? But could there perhaps be more to it? Could it be that the Spurs are relaxed because they have three more wins than anybody else in the NBA and are playing 12 of their next 14 games at home?
“We made a lot of mental errors,” Popovich said.
If this were almost any other NBA team, it would cause a brief panic. There would be this sense that the team needs to nip this complacency in the bud before it becomes a vile weed that dooms the season. But does anybody within (or outside) the Spurs organization think that’s a realistic scenario for this team? That it’s possible the Spurs could be split asunder by some kind of psychological funk?
Sometimes your mind just needs a break, even if your body doesn’t get one.
1. Tim Duncan on Wednesday collected the 13,000th rebound of his career. It was the perfect milestone rebound for Duncan, because it was as nondescript as a rebound can possibly be. He was standing near the basket, the ball bounced his way and he caught it. He didn’t even have to box out.
The best rebounders are so good at their craft that sometimes teammates and opponents don’t even bother challenging them. Good rebounding begets more rebounds, and Duncan has begotten a lot of rebounds over the years. He’s No. 15 in NBA history.
2. It is not ridiculous to tout Tony Parker for MVP. He’s probably the best point guard in the world, and he’s definitely the best player on the team with the best record in the NBA. It seems like people are almost afraid to support his MVP candidacy because he doesn’t seem like a traditional MVP. His season has not been loud. And there’s also that LeBron fella.
3. At what point does Ginobili just go ahead and shave himself all the way bald? Maybe that could be one of those team solidarity things for the playoffs. Everybody shaves their heads so Manu doesn’t look so old in comparison.
Quotes of the week
“Only if training camp is in Lyon,” he said. “Paris is OK, but Lyon is where all the food started.”
Spurs coach Gregg Popovich, to the San Antonio Express-News, on the hypothetical possibility of coaching the French national team. There is talk of Popovich taking over coaching duties for the U.S. Olympic men’s basketball team, and Tony Parker, of France, joked he’d welcome Popovich to coach the French.
“I can jump. Not like Kawhi (Leonard), but I can do something. He went up for a layup, so it is more of a block, but I didn’t have to jump.”
Spurs guard Nando De Colo, in the Express-News, challenging the notion that the play he made on Suns forward Marcus Morris was a steal and not a block. A debate had started in the Spurs locker room with some, including Manu Ginobili, arguing De Colo had not gotten high enough to be credited for a block. What’s next?
Well, the Spurs are at home for the majority of the rest of the season, including 12 of their next 14 games. This would be the time to build a comfortable lead over the Oklahoma City Thunder and Los Angeles Clippers.
Tower of Power?
Despite Wednesday’s slip-up, the Spurs still own the NBA’s best record and are 22-3 at home this season. If that percentage holds, they should have 56 or 57 wins by the end of March. That would put an awful lot of pressure on the Clippers and Thunder. Oklahoma City (.737) is on pace to win 60 games and the Clippers (.695) are on pace to win 57. But the Spurs would still have nine games left in April.