Trouble in Texas
Pistons lose road-trip finale as Ginobili leads San Antonio burstSAN ANTONIO – If San Antonio’s hottest pursuers in the West believe the Spurs vulnerable without Tony Parker over the next month, they might want to avoid watching the tape of their Sunday dismantling of the Pistons.
“It was a clinic tape,” Lawrence Frank said after the 114-75 hurting the Spurs applied. “You know what’s coming but we couldn’t stop it. We could have done a whole lot more to put more into the game to give ourselves a chance, but we didn’t. That’s a credit to the champs. That’s the blueprint. That’s what it looks like.”
Nobody has faced a worse confluence of factors here since 100 brave Texans tried to defend the Alamo.
The Spurs had a chip on their shoulder from surrendering 119 points to the Pistons last month in a loss at The Palace, San Antonio’s highest yield in regulation this season. They were still a little chapped about losing at home to lowly Phoenix last week. And they unquestionably wanted to send a loud message to Oklahoma City and the LA Clippers, close on their heels for the NBA’s best record and No. 1 seed in the West, that they’d withstand the loss of Parker just as they’ve survived the losses of Tim Duncan and Manu Ginobili previously.
Check, check and check.
Ginobili changed the game when he entered with five minutes left in the first quarter and both offenses sputtering. He scored 15 points in a seven-minute spurt, including a back-breaking four-point play to end the first quarter, as the Spurs went on a 27-11 run. They never led by less than double digits after that and kept expanding the lead through halftime and into the fourth quarter.
“We didn’t really come to fight,” Charlie Villanueva said. “That’s the best team in the league. Especially the fact we beat them the way we did back in Michigan, we knew they were going to come ready to play. They’re the best team in the league for a reason and we didn’t come ready to play.”
Ginobili scored all 17 of his points in the first half as the Spurs took a 20-point lead into halftime.
“Ginobili’s a great player – that goes without saying,” Will Bynum said. “They beat us – bad – tonight.”
“The guy’s a future Hall of Famer,” Frank said. “But still, we could do better.”
If the Pistons still had a puncher’s chance against a team that came into the game with a 23-3 home record when they were down 20 at the break, that chance evaporated in the first 82 seconds of the third quarter when the deficit went to 26. The first three possessions included two Pistons misses inside and one turnover – all converted into transition dunks or layups by the Spurs. And the rout was on. San Antonio led by 33 headed to the fourth quarter.
“They didn’t have to run a play and they scored six points – layup, layup, layup,” Frank said. “It’s just disappointing. That’s what championship effort is all about. Everything they do is hard. That’s a great learning lesson for all of us.”
It was a far cry from the 119 points the Pistons scored in a win last month at The Palace. The Spurs didn’t have Ginobili or Duncan that night, but Parker was brilliant and the Spurs – missing all of their big three, plus Parker – would win at Chicago just three nights later.
“We definitely are capable of doing better and we’ve shown it,” Frank said. “We’ve got to be locked into one thing and that’s got to be the team. We’ve got to be team first and that’s why San Antonio is a great model – they’re agenda free. The effort’s there on both ends. When you get your butt kicked like this, everyone across the board’s got to be better. It’s embarrassing.”