Posted by Kevin Arnovitz
For the New Orleans-Orlando thread, click here.
Pre-game SA-PHX Notes:
After a 2-5 start, the Spurs have won 16 of 21.
PHX is 3-2 since the big trade.
Jason Richardson leads the NBA in three-point field goal shooting at 48.2 percent.
The Spurs shoot only 20.2 FTAs per game, far and away the fewest in the league.
Amare Stoudemire has scored at least 20 points in each of his last ten games. LeBron James and Zach Randolph had 11-game streaks earlier this season and Dirk Nowitzki extended his current streak to 11 games on Tuesday night.
11:43 AM: A little post play, some interior passing, and a patented PUJIT from Nash -- the full palette of colors from PHX.
11:45 AM: Matt Bonner simply can't leave Amare at 17 to pick up a backtracking Nash. Bad decision. 9-0 PHX.
11:47 AM: Watch for Duncan to try to work that switch all day. Hill can't guard him.
11:49 AM: Is there a guard combo who moves off the ball better than Parker & Ginobili? Well, Rondo and Allen, natch.
11:51 AM: Pop might have to go to Oberto. Bonner is getting killed down low defensively.
11:52 AM: That's a good sign for SA -- they defended that Nash/Stoudemire S/R fairly well. The key for the Spurs is Duncan's rotation to pick up Amare when the Spurs choose to trap Nash. The challenge, of course, is who picks up O'Neal down low?
11:54 AM: Re: Oberto as defensive relief down low. Make that Kurt Thomas.
11:56 AM: Grant Hill still has it. He may not be the one-on-one player he used to be, but he just ran that S/R to perfection for an easy two, then threaded the needle with a perfect pass along the baseline to Amare down low.
11:58 AM: Hubie Brown just made the point, but just like New Orleans early, the Spurs are getting the looks they want, they're just not draining them.
12:04 PM: Ginobili loves to draw that contact against the big man on the S/R. He sells it like nobody else.
12:06 PM: We just saw two areas where Amare Stoudemire has really improved his game: First, the interior pass to Lopez, which was something he couldn't execute proficiently as recently as 18 months ago. Secondly, he's extended the range of his face-up game to about 18 feet. More important, he now knows how to find space on the court to get that shot.
12:11 PM: The Spurs' spacing looked awful on that first possession.
12:14 PM: That's a tough assignment for Shaq way out on the floor vs. Duncan. Tim is a triple-threat and Shaq can defend only one of those threats.
12:16 PM: Ibid.
12:18 PM: As Henry pointed out in these parts just a week or so ago, "Video breakdown of how Shaquille O'Neal hurt the Knicks. I've said it before, I'll say it again: Few big men pass as well as he does."
12:22 PM: PHX is doing a nice job spacing the floor and making it tough for the Spurs to double on Shaq even if they wanted to. [Do they?]
12:23 PM: In Pop We Trust: Disgusted with the last few possessions, Pop calls for an intentional foul to stop the clock so he can swap out his on-court squad with five subs.
12:29 PM: Grant Hill always knows where he's most useful on the court. Barnes = better passer than he was three years ago.
12:30 PM: When they're on, the Spurs defend the S/R better than any team in basketball. Bowen and Duncan smothered Nash, yet Duncan was still instinctive enough to realize the exact instant he needed to drop back on Amare. Textbook stuff.
12:33 PM: Some good news for the Spurs -- their speedsters are starting to get the mismatches they want. Parker was able to blow by Amare, but missed the little bunny. That won't happen very often...the missed layup, that is.
12:40 PM: The Spurs have made a third of their shots from the floor; the Suns have made half of theirs. How is San Antonio staying in it? Only two turnovers, and three more FTMs than Phoenix.
1:04 PM: The first foul Tim Duncan has committed in his storied career.
1:05 PM: The Spurs are really clamping down on the Nash/Amare S/R.
1:06 PM: PHX might be better off going to some off the ball stuff to free up Richardson along the perimeter. There are opportunities out there they can exploit.
1:08 PM: Hubie just made the point. What's Grant Hill doing running under that screen and giving Parker a wide open look at 17 feet?! After I've just praised him for knowing exactly where he's supposed to be on the court...Feh.
1:12 PM: Battle of the S/Rs. PHX might want to consider rotating someone out on Duncan. Richardson thought about it for a second, but hedged and decided not to close on Duncan.
1:15 PM: Nash in transition filling up space. A revelation.
1:18 PM: With Shaq out and Lopez in, it'll be interesting to see if PHX opens it out because Lopez can run the floor.
1:20 PM: Add 'passing out of the double-team' to the list of things Amare has started to master.
1:20 PM: Jason Richardson, a hockey player? Who knew?
1:27 PM: The Hack-a-Shaq has officially begun.
1:30 PM: Shaq isn't coming out to guard Duncan on the S/R. The Suns need to figure out if [a] Shaq should step out or [b] if there's a logical rotation so that Duncan isn't left wide, wide open at the top of the circle.
1:31 PM: Official Hack-a-Shaq 3rd Quarter Tally: 5-6 FTA
1:36 PM: Is that really what the Spurs want -- Bonner on Stoudemire? Really?
1:38 PM: Ginobili's best tack here is going to the rack. I know he's hot from the perimeter, but there's no reason to settle for an immediate, contested 3PA when he can get the same shot on a high-low play or coming off a curl.
1:41 PM: More of a question than a conviction: But would Phoenix be better served having Amare on Duncan with Shaq on Thomas? Amare is more agile, and that might address all the open space Duncan is getting for himself at 17 feet because Shaq is less inclined to step out. Again, just a thought.
1:44 PM: Just to continue that last thought. Duncan is doing damage as a face-up threat, not with his back to the basket.
1:46 PM: If Duncan is going to set up that deep, the Spurs have to find him earlier!
1:49 PM: Bruce Bowen has lost some lateral quickness over the past couple of years, but he still has the best defensive instincts on the floor.
1:50 PM: So they're going to promote the Notorious B.I.G. flick with "Notorious" by Duran Duran? Stellar. Best use of the song since the dance set piece from Donnie Darko.
1:55 PM: That's five on Duncan.
1:56 PM: Unusually bad defensive rotation by the Spurs -- a team that almost always stays at home, and to good effect. Ginobili has to know he's more useful on Richardson on the wing than trying to defend Amare at 20.
1:58 PM: sticks4624 straightens me out on the "Notorious" question.
2:00 PM: Duncan had
the shot. Had it.
2:03 PM: Bad decision by Parker -- both on the shot and on the T. Meltdown.
2:04 PM: Notice how O'Neal stayed on Duncan off the S/R? He didn't drop back and give him that space at 17 feet. My question is this: If that's a sound strategy inside of a minute in a tie game, why isn't it par for the course for the entire 48 minutes?
2:08 PM: What a brilliant set! And who set the back screen on Finley for Grant Hill, the inbounder? Steve Nash! Beautiful work coming out of the timeout!
2:11 PM: Roger Mason. Bang. Keep it Simple, Stupid. Parker goes left from the top. The Spurs have Roger Mason set up in the left corner, guarded by Richardson. Once Parker penetrates down the left side, Richardson moves off Mason to help on Parker. That leaves Mason wide open. Parker can make that pass, and he does. Mason can make that shot...and he does. Ballgame.
2:16 PM: PHX and the Spurs give us another classic. Please join us at the Celtics-Lakers thread!