A Spurs team without many of its stars can still prove difficult for opponents to deal with, in large part because of the way San Antonio consistently stacks its team with players perfectly suited to perform in the highly-disciplined system engineered by tenured head coach Gregg Popovich.
That was true for a while in Thursday night’s contest against the Nets, but ultimately Brooklyn was able to exploit the matchups to come away with the 103-89 victory.
San Antonio was without Tony Parker due to a back issue, and Tim Duncan simply got the night off to rest after the team’s double-overtime win in Washington on Wednesday. Manu Ginobili and Kawhi Leonard remained out due to injury, leaving a crew devoid of any star power or historically consistent level of production to tackle a Nets team playing at close to full strength.
Brooklyn was sluggish in the early going, falling behind by as many as 12 points in the first quarter. They began to pick things up late in the second, closing the half on a 10-2 run to take a one-point lead at the break.
The Nets kept rolling in the third, expanding their lead to 10 before the Spurs stabilized and battled back some. Alan Anderson then took control offensively, scoring nine points in the final 2:27 of the third, and then continuing his personal attack with 10 more in the final period to help his team pull away. Anderson finished with a game-high 22 points.
There aren’t many takeaways from this game on the Spurs side, other than guys like Nando de Colo and Corey Joseph essentially getting a D-League game’s worth of minutes, only against real competition under the tutelage of one of the game’s best coaches. San Antonio has this luxury, as the health of the team for the playoffs is more important than any singular regular season outing.
The Nets, meanwhile, need every win they can get after getting off to such a rough start. This one was far from perfect, and there will be plenty of teaching points for Jason Kidd to point to in the coming days if he so chooses. But the victory, no matter how it came and against whatever level of competition was in front of them, will be cherished nonetheless.
The NBA’s award season seems more wide open than ever.
Ben Simmons was going to enter the season as the heavy favorite to win Rookie of the Year, but with him out injured the door is flung open to a lot of players. Coach of the Year is always a game of “which coach exceeds expectations.” Even MVP seems more open with Stephen Curry and Kevin Durant — the award winners the past three seasons — teamed up in the Bay Area.
In this latest PBT Extra I throw out my predictions for the awards, but let’s get on with the games next week and see who earns them.
During the ProBasketballTalk podcast with Sixers coach Brett Brown, you could hear the frustration in his voice. He has all these talented young front line players — Joel Embiid, Nerlens Noel, Ben Simmons, Dario Saric, Jahlil Okafor — but he can’t begin to figure out how they all fit together if he can’t get them on the court at the same time.
That problem just got worse.
The Sixers announced that Nerlens Noel will miss time following surgery to deal with soreness in his left knee. Here is the word from the press release itself:
During the normal course of evaluation and treatment for his left adductor strain, which was identified on October 6, Noel reported localized soreness in his left knee. After consulting with multiple specialists, the source of the soreness was identified as inflamed plica. Noel has elected to address the injury via a minor surgical procedure in the coming days.
The team gives no timeline for Noel’s return. Soreness from the plica — a band of tissue around the knee that is not important following birth — happens in some players and can be fixed by an arthroscopic surgery that removes the area being irritated. While the surgery is minor, it usually takes around six weeks to bounce back from this.
That likely means a little more run for Jahlil Okafor (just coming back from an injury of his own) and Richaun Holmes. But it’s just another injury setback for a Sixers team plagued by them.
The Sixers also announced that Jerryd Bayless will not have surgery on his wrist, but will remain out and be evaluated in two weeks.
This was flat out incredible.
After a back-and-forth, even series between the Minnesota Lynx and the Los Angeles Sparks, it came down to the final seconds (although maybe it shouldn’t have, the WNBA admitted Friday the referees missed a call with 1:14 left, giving the Sparks’ Nneka Ogwumike a bucket on a shot after the shot clock expired).
The biggest stars took over at the end, as you can see in the video above: L.A.’s Candace Parker drives and scores with 19 seconds left putting the Sparks up 75-74; Minnesota responded with a Maya Moore jumper to take the lead back, then it came down to Ogwumike (the WNBA’s 2016 MVP) getting the ball after a block by Sylvia Fowles and following it up with a fadeaway bucket that gave Los Angeles the title.
Congrats to Candace Parker on the win, after how she’s been overlooked on the awards circuit in the WNBA this season, this is some sweet revenge.
Pelicans point guard Jrue Holiday is away from the team as his wife, Lauren Holiday, battles a brain tumor.
First, Lauren gave birth to a healthy daughter.
Now, more good news.
John Reid of The Times-Picayune:
Hopefully, the Holidays continue to find good health.