When the Spurs lost to the Chicago Bulls on Wednesday after the All Star game, I’m sure some people thought that the rest and time off was too much for the old legs in San Antonio. But the loss is almost unimportant. It was only the second loss at home for the Spurs. It was the first game back from the break. The Spurs did not play bad; the Bulls just played a little better.
The Spurs led after the first quarter. In the second quarter, however, the Bulls seem to have taken over on the floor. Chicago outscored San Antonio by 10 in the second quarter and by eight in the fourth quarter. But the third quarter the Spurs dominated Chicago offensively and defensively; they limited the Bulls to just 15 points while they scored 24 of their own. Gary Neal was the shining star for the Spurs in that game, scoring 21 points off the bench including 15 points in the fourth quarter (and you may say the Spurs have no depth). Tim Duncan was also productive with 18 points and 10 rebounds with 12 of his points coming in the third. The problem for the Spurs was Tony Parker; he had only 11 points on 5-of-16 shooting and nine assists. Sure, the assists are nice, but look at Derrick Rose. Rose had 29 points for the Bulls even after colliding into Parker in the opening minutes of the game.
If Parker had had contributed his 19 normal points, the outcome of the game would be very different. On Wednesday, the Bulls had the better point guard. During the Spurs road trip in February, however, Parker was playing like the best point guard in the league. The Spurs should not worry about losing to the Bulls. First off, they won’t face them again this season (playoffs aside). Second, Manu Ginobili was not playing for the Spurs. Ginobili is still recovering from his second injury this season. Lastly, the offensive effort from the rest of the Spurs starters was lackluster; Richard Jefferson had six measly points and DeJuan Blair only had nine. Combine that with Parker’s abysmal shooting night and the Spurs really did not stand a chance. The loss didn’t prove that the break was too long for some of the older guys; it just showed what players sat around during their five days off and did not do anything while others (perhaps Gary Neal) spent time resting their legs while still staying active and not getting rusty.
What should cause worry for the Spurs is if they are unable to knock off the Denver Nuggets tonight. In their last eight games against the Nuggets the Spurs have averaged 112 points per game. They have also won seven out of the last eight meetings. San Antonio has allowed 86.8 points per game in its last nine at home and has only surrendered 100 once at the AT&T Center this season (statistic courtesy of ESPN.com). The fact that San Antonio has only lost two games at home (one being just days ago) shows how comfortable and GOOD they are playing on their home court. The Spurs need to focus on a more consistent output by all players and not rely on just Duncan and Parker; that has proved to NOT be successful at all this season.
The Spurs have a good stretch of games coming up. They easily defeated the Charlotte Bobcats on Friday (fun fact courtesy of the Elias Sports Bureau: The Spurs 30 point victory against Charlotte is the Bobcats’ eighth time this season losing by 30+ points. In the 1,216 games Gregg Popovich has coached the Spurs they have only lost seven games by 30+ points) and they face the hot-and-cold Knicks on Wednesday. Then, in a span of eight days San Antonio will face the Clippers, Magic and Oklahoma City Thunder; all teams that are headed for the playoffs and are consistently good on the floor. Should the Spurs lose all three of those games….then we can start to worry.
About the Author
Written by Chelsea Curto
Chelsea is a college senior who is majoring in art history and minoring in communications. She plans to become a sports broadcaster. She is a former Division 1 athlete who rowed for a year and a half in college. She enjoys any and all sports, especially basketball. She plans to pursue her education in communication at the graduate school level. Follow her on Twitter: @chelseacurto