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Tuesday, March 12th, 2013 at 9:00 am  |  58 responses

Post Up: Best in the West

The Spurs stayed atop their Conference with Monday night’s W against OKC.

by Leo Sepkowitz | @LeoSepkowitz

Pete Walsh is taking the night off to catch up on Girls, so I’m subbing in for the Monday Post Up. Last night, the Spurs role players ignited a win against the Thunder and the Warriors dominated the Knicks. No nail-biters, but some interesting stories anyway. Let’s get to it.

76ers (24-39) 106, Nets (37-27) 97
Dorrell Wright got hot in the second quarter last night, helping the Sixers control a seven-point halftime lead. The two teams played even in the third quarter as Deron Williams heated up for Brooklyn. The Nets were within five a few times in the mid-fourth quarter, but Philly held them off in the final six minutes.

Wright finished with 15 off the bench for Philadelphia. Spencer Hawes blew up for 24 points to go along with 10 boards, 7 dimes and 2 blocks. Jrue Holiday and Thaddeus Young also double-doubled for Philly. The team as a whole shot over 53 percent from deep.

Brook Lopez had a strong first half for the Nets but was silent in the final two quarters. He finished with 19 points. Deron scored 27 with 13 dimes, and Joe Johnson added 20. Gerald Wallace continued his statistically embarrassing season with 4 points, 1 rebound and 1 assist.

I like him as a tough glue guy who will be able to handle challenging defensive matchups in the Playoffs, but his lack of offense this year has been wild. He’s averaging 8.4 points on just over 40 percent shooting from the floor in the first year of a 4-year, $40 million deal. He’d be a major problem if Brooklyn wasn’t owned by this guy. Kris Humphries played as many minutes as your niece on a coach’s decision last night. His $12 million annual price tag might also be an issue if not for this guy.

Spurs (49-15) 105, Thunder (47-17) 93
This was a big game. The clear-cut two best teams in the West came into the night a game apart in the standings, with San Antonio having the leg-up on OKC. The Thunder could have evened things up, but instead fell two games behind. I think we’ll see these two teams in the Western Conference Finals, and the Spurs might get home court advantage because of Monday’s win.

The Thunder led by 10 after the first quarter, but were outscored 35-18 in the second and trailed going into the break. Tiago Splitter, Kawhi Leonard, Danny Green and Gary Neal were the sparks for San Antonio’s run.

The Spurs, who were again without Tony Parker, were able to open up an 18-point lead after a 9-0 run to start the fourth, and the Thunder never got back in the game.

Splitter led the Spurs in scoring and rebounding with 21 and 10. Leonard added 17 and Green scored 16. The Spurs can rely on different guys on any night, and it seems like Coach Pop gives the right players the perfect amount of minutes every game. I don’t know how he does it, but they’re my pick to win it all.

OKC got 26 from Kevin Durant, 25 from Russell Westbrook and a double-double from Serge Ibaka, but only 9 from Kevin Martin and the team committed 19 turnovers.

Jazz (33-31) 103, Pistons (23-43) 90
Utah pulled away in the second quarter and sealed the game with a strong fourth. The Jazz were led by Mo Williams (20), Al Jefferson (16 and 10) and strong play from their second unit. Marvin Williams, Enes Kanter and Gordon Hayward each came off the bench for at least 13.

Detroit had six guys in double-figures, but nobody scored more than 15. Despite Greg Monroe’s 13 boards, they lost by 17 on the glass. That’s an ugly, ugly stat.

Nuggets (43-22) 108, Suns (22-42) 93
Denver’s offense rolled right through Phoenix last night. The team shot over 51 percent from the floor, but got big contributions from unusual places. Kosta Koufos led the team with 22 points and Corey Brewer dropped 20. It’ll be tough to beat Denver if those two each score 20+. Thankfully for the rest of the League, it’ll probably never happen again.

Ty Lawson added 19 and Kenneth Faried narrowly missed a double-double. I can’t decide what to make of the Nuggets. Sometimes I talk myself into thinking that they can create a sneaky nightmare Playoff matchup for a veteran team that can’t catch their breath in Denver while Lawson & Co. endlessly run up and down the court.

More often, I’m of the opinion that they have too much depth and not enough star power. Danilo Gallinari is surprisingly unreliable, Andre Iguodala’s offense disappears in a flash and it’s not clear that Lawson can run a real half court offense. I like the players themselves and hope they do well, but I’m still not sold.

Phoenix trailed by just six entering the fourth before letting Denver pull away. Wes Johnson led the team with 18. In his last 7 games, he’s scored 14, 8, 15, 5, 19, 5 and 18 points. That’s comical inconsistency, but at least he’s showing some signs of life after flopping miserably over his first 2+ years in the League. He’s certainly on a team that can afford to give him minutes while he tries to find his stride. Newcomers Marcus Morris (16) and Hamed Haddadi (13 and 8 ) were productive in the loss.

Warriors (36-29) 92, Knicks (38-23) 63
The last time the Knicks and Warriors faced off, Stephen Curry hit 11-of-13 threes on his way to 54 points in a Warriors loss. If he did that again last night, he would have needed his teammates to combine for just 10 points to get a win.

New York simply got blown out in Golden State, combining for 21 points between the second and fourth quarters. The dinged up Carmelo Anthony shot 4/15. Tyson Chandler attempted just 2 shots. Iman Shumpert made only 3/9 attempts with no assists or rebounds. JR Smith shot 3/11 before getting ejected. Jason Kidd was 0/3. Steve Novak was 0/6. Ouch.

It’s a nightmare start to the Knicks’ west coast road trip, which will send them to Denver, Portland, Los Angeles (Clippers) and Utah over the next week. They lead the Pacers by only one game in the loss column and teams like Chicago, Brooklyn and Boston by four or five losses. Things could quickly get dicey if Melo’s as banged up as it looks.

This was also a big win for the Warriors. Curry led the way with 26, David Lee went for 21 and 10 and Klay Thompson dropped 23. Andrew Bogut and Festus Ezeli totaled 21 boards. That’s a great formula for a Golden State win.

After a hot first half of the season, Mark Jackson’s club has started to slip a little. They would be the sixth seed if the Playoffs started tomorrow, but, of course, it doesn’t. The Lakers, currently the 9th seed, trail Golden State by just two losses. I think the Jazz will fall out of the postseason and the Rockets, Warriors and Lakers will round out the bottom of the Conference.

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  • http://twitter.com/stepfdelaghetto Stepfan Raiford

    I’m concerned for OKC. When you can’t beat the Spurs without their best player, what chance do you have at winning a title. Maybe I’m overreacting. I don’t know. OKC was acting like the Clippers last night; when things weren’t going their way they cried and complained for calls. That goes to show that a team will always beat two amazing scorers. Scottie Brooks please have them run some type of sets with some ball movement. Please. When things aren’t going his way aka losing, JR Smith always quits/punks out, and does something stupid. Getting ejected once again. Your too talented to acting like that.

  • i_ball

    Great win for the Spurs! I hope then can keep it up and get to the Finals.
    Splitter and Leonard look great, I think the Spurs will stay in the playoffs even after TD and Manu retire

  • Sérgio

    Is it my impression or Deron Willians has ressurected?

  • LLC#12

    If/when Tim Duncan retires, and Tiago gets 36+ mins a game, I’d be very interested to see what he could do with that kind of time every game. How did Kendrick Perkins get a reputation as a premier defender? All he does now is scowl and occasionally get dunked on. In a 7 game series between OKC and the Spurs, I’d give the edge to whichever team has the homecourt advantage. I have no idea where I’d put Deron Williams in a ranking of PG’s, and between Wallace, Johnson and Humphries, the Nets have one of the most overpaid rosters of all time.

  • Leo Sepkowitz

    Nets are certainly overpaying their guys, but that’s what happens when you buy relevancy. Splitter actually hits free agency this summer. Will be interesting to see how much dough the Spurs will be willing to shell out if a team like Charlotte, which can’t develop their own guys, goes after him.

  • Leo Sepkowitz

    Pre All Star Break: 17 ppg, 41% from the floor, 35% from deep.

    Post All Star Break: 23.5 ppg, 48% from the floor, 49.5% from deep.

    Totally different player over last 11 games.

  • spit hot fiyah

    yeah i think he has noticed that he is not people’s top 3 pg list anymore

  • KevinJohnsonFan

    Only a regular season game so I don’t put any stock at all in last night’s game. But whether it’s the regular season or postseason, what is true is that good Russell = wins for OKC. Bad Russell = losses. Harden would clean up some of his mess. Now that he’s gone, Russell has less room for error. Which is why the Harden trade can’t be judged properly until the playoffs, not in the regular season. KD should be focused on scoring more while Russell focuses on creating for his teammates more. It’s tough because he always has an advantage on the guy who’s trying to guard him and he knows it.

  • Max

    Starting to get more healthy and driving like the old DWill again and shooting with more confidence.

  • Max

    “When you can’t beat the Spurs without their best player, what chance do you have at winning a title”
    Miami almost lost to the Spurs without TP, Manu, Danny Green and TD.

  • http://twitter.com/sooperfadeaway nbk

    It’s a regular season game.

  • LakeShow

    Take a bow Leo, take a bow.
    Nice creative PU, thank you for filling in for Pete.
    I didn’t know how bad a season G-Wall was having so thank you for informing.

  • Caboose

    Spurs will win it all, I’ve said that since the start of the season.

  • LakeShow

    I had faith in the Spurs the last 5 years, but now… No. They are a great regular season team that will win the ‘right’ match up every time, but the Grizz, OKC and the Lakers could and I think will beat them if they match up in the post season.

  • LakeShow

    Kendrick Perkins got a reputation as a perimeter defender? What idiot said that?
    He could back in like 2007 for a play or two.

  • http://twitter.com/sooperfadeaway nbk

    well you’ve been wrong since the start of the season.

  • http://twitter.com/sooperfadeaway nbk

    “Pete Walsh had to catch up on Girls” — hahahahaha Leo ftw.

  • The Fury

    The Grizzlies beat them last time because Manu was playing injured and TD having knee issues. I would love to see them meet again in the playoffs and I’m sure that Memphis could only win once or never. Same goes with the Lakers. If they meet in the playoffs, they’re just going to take the mojo out the Lakers with incredible ball movements. Also, D’Antoni can’t catch up what’s on Pops head.

  • Max

    Lol, read again.
    “How did Kendrick Perkins get a reputation as a premier defender?”
    “Kendrick Perkins got a reputation as a perimeter defender?”

  • LakeShow

    Okay, since you say so.

  • http://twitter.com/stepfdelaghetto Stepfan Raiford

    I put I maybe overreacting. lol Just want OKC to win cause I’m a KD fan.

  • http://twitter.com/stepfdelaghetto Stepfan Raiford

    touche I was a bit emotional. Not afraid to admit when I’m wrong.

  • Slick Ric

    Rudy gay was injured too and didn’t play at all in that series.

  • http://twitter.com/sooperfadeaway nbk

    his argument does have a lot of depth. so, he’s probably right. The Spurs are invincible. And their way better than the last 2 years, when they won the EXACT SAME % OF THEIR GAMES.

  • http://twitter.com/sooperfadeaway nbk

    THE SPURS WINNING % HAS BEEN THE SAME FOR 3 STRAIGHT YEARS. I don’t see any reason to think they are any better than before.

  • http://twitter.com/sooperfadeaway nbk

    They are still the toast of the conference. The only team i think they should be worried about is in Memphis. Who matches up with them swimmingly.

  • LakeShow

    It took me like 8 times reading this to figure it out. god i’m dumb sometimes lol.

  • Caboose

    Because…?

  • Caboose

    Oh you mean like Miami who had a .707 winning percentage when they lost but improved SO MUCH to a .697 winning percentage the year they won?

  • http://twitter.com/sooperfadeaway nbk

    the same reason the people who still think Kobe is better than Wade year after year are wrong, year after year. (this year is really really tryna punch a whole in that theory, but Wade is still the better overall player)

  • http://twitter.com/sooperfadeaway nbk

    Was the Heat’s problem related to something like San Antonio’s is (meaning, are they just lacking the put you over the top talent that it takes to win 4 straight 7 game series or are their star player’s having a problem that needs immediate attention?) are the Heat’s best players on the good side, or the bad side of 30? Do their situations really relate to you? That feels like a lakeshow type response you just gave – where you don’t like that i disagree, so you just threw out the first relatable thing you could.

  • Caboose

    You were using the win % argument before, I didn’t bring it up. “THE SPURS WINNING % HAS BEEN THE SAME FOR 3 STRAIGHT YEARS.” Now THAT is a pretty sh*tty justification for why they aren’t competitors. I do acknowledge there are better arguments, you just didn’t bring them up.

  • http://twitter.com/sooperfadeaway nbk

    Oh thanks, i was totally unsure of who brought up the win % thing…. or maybe i brought it up becuase it’s relevant with a team like the Spurs, who haven’t changed anything. Their best player’s haven’t become any better (and don’t posses the ability to do so). I said the win % thing because they are a veteran team that has already proven to be a juggernaut in the regular season who can’t actually win against the most talented teams in the league. They have proven this for 5 straight years now. And haven’t made any significant changes aside from the pace they play. Which as we all know, generally benefits teams in the regular season, and not in the post season. Which, again, has been proven by the Spurs for the last 3 straight years, when they had the exact same win % and then were overwhelmed by more talented teams in the playoffs.
    .
    there is no reason to believe the Spurs have any more of a chance at the title today, then they did last year. Or the year before that. Or the year before that. Or the year before that. Or the year before that.

  • LakeShow

    Hey brehh! LakeShow responses win every time. Most of the time.

  • LakeShow

    Splitter is a weird one. I don’t know ho much he’s worth…
    Seems a 30 million over 4 years would be about right.

  • http://twitter.com/sooperfadeaway nbk

    LMAO!

  • Caboose

    And I don’t fault you for thinking that. But sometimes, staying constant while others trend downwards produces results. Case in point, Spurs lost to the Grizz and OKC the last 2 years. Memphis’ best player (Z-Bo) and best perimeter defender (Allen) have regressed and they were the two who killed San Antonio the most. OKC lost Harden, again, someone who helped in beating the Spurs. Meanwhile, you assert that the Spurs haven’t changed. So that’s my reasoning: not necessarily that the Spurs have improved (they have, but only slightly), it’s that their competitors aren’t as potent as they were.

  • http://twitter.com/sooperfadeaway nbk

    The Grizzlies, for all intensive purposes are better. Randolph may have regressed – Allen idk how you think he regressed? he’s statistically as good as ever… – but their other player’s haven’t. Gasol is CONSIDERABLY better than before. He’s actually their best player. Conley has improved considerably as well, although against Parker that’s not as important. — without Gay the team is better. This is the biggest thing. And it totally strips San Antonio of the main benefits provided by Kawhi Leonard. I don’t see any reason to think San Antonio is going to beat Memphis in a series while having enough juice to beat Oklahoma City or the Clippers. Especially if LAL finishes with the 8 seed. The road is just too exhausting for a bunch of guys who are conditioned to play 30 minutes in the regular season.
    .
    And the Oklahoma City thing is a two way street. I can definitely see why you think they have a better chance against them then before, they probably do. But I don’t, however, see how they would be a favorite. Especially with how improved Durant and Westbrook are. It’s not like Tony Parker has a single physical advantage on either end of the court against Westbrook. And he’s San Antonio’s best player, while Westbrook isn’t Oklahoma City’s. The match up just really doesn’t favor the Spurs, unless Duncan can log 35+ minutes at his HOF level self.
    .
    And i still don’t understand how you think San Antonio is the favorite for the title with that team in Miami still playing basketball.

  • Caboose

    Miami aside (yeah, probably got a good shot), I see your points. San Antonio is just in a much better position to beat both Memphis and OKC. Granted, if Spurs get screwed and have to go through: LA, Memphis, AND OKC, yeah, not a good chance. They can beat two of the three, but probably not all of them.

  • http://twitter.com/sooperfadeaway nbk

    ok, let’s assume it’s Utah (4 game sweep is just as likely as a 6 game series), Denver (uhm, even if it’s a sweep, which it won’t be, that’s exhausting), OKC. — You really think they got the guns to beat OKC in the WCF after Denver?

    .

    Tim Duncan is in shape to play 30 minutes. Manu is in shape to play, what, 25? — switching that up, after 82 games and putting them in for 10 more minutes over the course of multiple series’, I don’t see how they win. I just really really don’t. .

    .

    Also, i understand the taking a step back theory, but why hasn’t San Antonio taken a step back by not changing in your opinion? You really believe Tim Duncan is actually a better player than in years past? Or that Kawhi Leonard is so improved, it makes up for Manu being this much worse?

  • The Fury

    The Grizzlies played extremely better since Rudy Gay bot injured that time. ;)

  • http://twitter.com/sooperfadeaway nbk

    and have been extremely better since he got traded.

  • Max

    Isn’t Timmy D having his best season of the last 3?
    Danny Green is improving, so is Tiago and Kawhi.
    Not saying the Spurs will get out of the West, still think it’ll be OKC, but Caboose has a point.

  • http://twitter.com/sooperfadeaway nbk

    Timmy D is having his best season of the last 3……season being the operative word. — and “best season and worst season” for Tim Duncan, is a difference of 0 rebounds, 2 points, and 1 block per 36 minutes. Not really something to get TOO excited about, although it definitely is a bonus.

    .

    And does Kawhi and Tiago improving (while Ginobili/Diaw get worse) really put you over the top against Oklahoma City?

    .

    However good Duncan/Parker/Leonard are playing, is that really “better” then how good Westbrook/Durant are playing? Especially in a 7-game series, where the best individual scorers are usually what puts one team over another.

    ,

    —- if you need a Spurs related example of that, plz refer to Parker vs Paul last year, in the playoffs.

  • ansel

    Intents and purposes, sorry it just made the rest of what you said arder to take seriously.

  • http://twitter.com/sooperfadeaway nbk

    LOOOOOOL no you are right. that’s what happens when you are working and commenting (while stupid). HAHA my bad.

  • http://twitter.com/sooperfadeaway nbk

    maybe 25

  • http://twitter.com/sooperfadeaway nbk

    Kevin Garnett bled that reputation onto Perkins.

  • LakeShow

    I think he is better than he has looked to be in the NBA. This is all strictly based upon 1 game the US had against Brazil like 6 years ago lol.
    But yeah hopefully no one over pays for him.

  • http://twitter.com/sooperfadeaway nbk

    i think 25 over 4 years is sort of overpaying. Assuming he doesn’t reach his potential. He’s a good player, but he’s only been a secondary role player. If you are going to pay him (30/4=$7.5M) a year, he better be more than a glorified back up.

  • LakeShow

    Yeah, but… this is the NBA. It’s like monopoly money.

  • retloc

    Yea, for some reason it bothered me, maybe because you’re well spoken and I knew other people may dismiss te rest of what you said because of it. It sucks when you mistype or misspeak and people are quick to jump to the “he’s an idiot/moron” conclusion. Also I don’t know wy my name was ansel on the last post.

  • http://twitter.com/sooperfadeaway nbk

    No I totally agree. That was just an idiotic comment I should have proof read.

  • http://twitter.com/sooperfadeaway nbk

    Touché

  • Sérgio

    the same reason the people who still think Wade is better than Kobe year after year (only NBK and Jtaylor in this world) are wrong, year after year. If someone still argues that Wade is better than Kobe, well, then I will really doubt their imparciality.

  • http://twitter.com/sooperfadeaway nbk

    Lol

  • Caboose

    The only thing about Splitter is that he’s older than you think. Dude just hit 28, which means his ceiling can’t be that much higher. I think MLE money is the lower end, 4 year, $25mil on the upper end.

  • Caboose

    Wade has been better than Kobe for the past 4 years. Come now.

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