Friday, December 19, 2008

The Notebook: Spurs-Magic, 12/18/08

Last night the Spurs were defeated by the Orlando Magic 90-78. Although down for every moment except the games opening minutes, the Spurs showed some resilience down the stretch and nearly completed a rather improbable comeback.

The first half of last night's game may have been the worst half of basketball the Spurs have played all season. It was the fewest points the Spurs have scored in a half so far this year (29). It wasn't that the Magic played tremendous defense, although to his credit Howard is a more skilled defender than I had given him credit for. The Spurs just spectacularly failed to execute. The obvious excuse is the physical wear-and-tear of a back-to-back, but there was a deeper mental exhaustion that was more noticeable. We finished the game with 15 turnovers, at least 7 of which came during the first quarter.

The Spurs eventually pulled it together, fighting back from what was a 20+ point deficit to bring the game within 6 halfway through the fourth. But some consistently aggressive play on the part of Jameer Nelson sealed the deal for Magic.

Although the team played very poorly as a collective unit during the first half, Tony Parker did not get his fill of underwhelming basketball and decided to be sheepish and ineffective for a full 48 minutes. He penetrated the defense infrequently and continued to take jumper after jumper even though his mid-range shot wasn't falling. He finished 3-17 with 4 turnovers and 4 assists.

In fact, the only Spurs to have nice shooting nights were Roger Mason (4-7) and Matt Bonner (3-5). Kurt Thomas and Ime Udoka also had quiet but efficient nights on both ends of the floor.

The Spurs are headed back to San Antonio for a game tomorrow night against the 10-15 Toronto Raptors. Hopefully a little rest and a 3-game homestand can get the boys back on track.

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