Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Spurs-Suns Game 2

Just finished watching the Spurs-Suns game. Fun game. I missed the double-OT thriller in Game 1. While this game didn't match that one from all accounts, it was still a good game.

A couple of thoughts:

1. I started watching around the end of the first quarter. For the rest of the half, I was surprised at how much pushing and shoving the Phoenix Suns were doing without having anything called. The Spurs definitely seemed to be waiting on the refs to start making calls, but the refs weren't helping them out. Then the second half started. And the Spurs were a completely different team. They pushed, they shoved, and they no longer seemed like they thought the refs were going to blow the whistle. Basically, they did everything in the third quarter that the Suns had been doing in the first half. It seemed like at half time Popovich must have said, "Hey, see how the refs are calling the game? Now go out there and take advantage of it like the Suns are doing, or you're going to lose this game. The refs aren't going to start blowing their whistle in the second half." The Spurs did, and the refs didn't change how they were calling the game. And I think that was what turned the game in the Spurs favor.

2. Not that it's a newsflash, but Tim Duncan is an incredibly heady player. With about a minute left in the game, the Suns missed a shot and a Spur (I think it was Ginobili, but I could be mistaken) grabbed the defensive rebound a few steps from him. Duncan noticed that a Suns' player was sneaking up behind Ginobili to try and take a swipe at the ball. So what does he do? He sets a pick that completely seals the Sun player off from Ginobili. Let me repeat-- In about half a second he realized that Ginobili was going to be blindsided and prevented a turnover from occurring by setting a pick-- ninety (how long is a basketball court?) feet from the offensive basket. That's smart basketball. It doesn't show up in the stat sheet, but it is a steal that doesn't show up on the Suns' ledger, and it is the type of play that wins games. And just about every other forward in the league would have been so focused on heading down to the other end of the court after the defensive rebound that they wouldn't have noticed what was going on, much less have reacted quickly enough to stop it.

3. At the end of the game, the Spurs were trying to inbound the ball. Nash seemed to shove Ginobili, who stumbled. No surprise, considering how the refs had called the game to that point, no whistle was blown as a result of the contact (On the next inbounds play, Nash and Ginobili banged into each other, in a play on which a foul probably could have been called on either one of them, but the refs again decided to swallow their whistles). What did surprise was that Nash then stumbled over the endline right in front of Duncan who was inbounding the ball. As Nash stumbled right in front of Duncan, he reached out. He might have nicked Duncan's arm, but at the very least he clearly put up his arm to get in the way of Duncan inbounding the ball. As far as I'm aware, going over the endline and interfering with the inbounds pass is supposed to be a delay of game on the defensive team. But no call. Duncan, heady player that he is, just called a time out when he couldn't inbound the ball before the five second count was expiring so it ended up not being a big deal, but I was shocked that there was no call and the announcers didn't say anything. Duncan appeared to say something to the refs after he made the time out call, but it was unclear whether he was arguing that Ginobili had been fouled or if he was pointing out that Nash had interfered with him.

A few links: TrueHoop's Liveblog, Spurs comment thread, Suns Comment thread, and the boxscore. (Fair warning- I enjoy both the Spurs blog and the Suns blog that I linked to, but they definitely have a "personality" that is not for everyone.) I tried to find on-line video of the events I talked about in points 2 & 3 (to confirm my memory and to let you see what I'm talking about), but nothing is on-line yet that I could find.

1 comment:

Louis said...

It looks like adding Shaq to get a leg up on the Spurs isn't going to work out for Phoenix... and now their future is not so bright since they they got older and traded away young talent.

The same is true with the addition of Kidd to the Mavericks. I thought they would have more of impact. I guess that's just one more reason I'm not a GM.