The NBA: Spurs Still Standing

Tim Duncan and Tony Parker will probably just watch the
All-Star Game, but they don't mind. That's not the
big goal they're after anyway.

*All images are from the Associated Press.

"You saw that tonight as he ended up with nine or 10 assists and the 40 points. Great effort by him and we needed him to do that. He's going to be great for us." – Tim Duncan speaking of the balance in Tony Parker’s game after their landmark win against OKC.

If TD, or Pop for that matter, were the head coach of the West All-Stars, then Parker’s place in the All-Star Game would be set in stone.

That isn’t the case, however, and, despite this effort, Parker might still miss backing up Chris Paul at the point in Florida. That role will probably go to the guy he outplayed in this game – Russell Westbrook.

Westbrook wasn’t awful by any standard – he scored 18 points, grabbed 6 rebounds, made 6 assists and blocked 2 shots.

But put up against the 42 and 9 of Parker? It’s not really tough to argue who was better.

And I guess that’s what’s exactly so awesome about not just Tony Parker, but the Spurs in general.

Both Parker and TD will probably not make the grade for the All-Star Weekend, but neither will be seen complaining. They’ll watch it, enjoy it, cheer for their peers, and deep inside they also know that, despite the lack of flash and spark in their game, they can run with the rest of the best in the NBA.

In defeating the Thunder, the Spurs now own the longest current win streak out West at 4 games. The likelihood they’ll extend that is pretty high considering 3 of their next 5 games are against teams below .500.

Still, people won’t pay them much attention. They’re the has-been team. They’re the “old and boring” team amidst the fast, furious, lob-here-and-lob-there squads of Miami, Chicago, Minnesota and LA. They’ve been old fashioned even before they got Parker.

They’re not supposed to matter anymore.

And yet they still do.

San Antonio is top 10 in ppg, apg, 3pt% and FG%. They average a +4 point difference against opponents and about the same in assists.

All in all, the Spurs are still a damn good team, though many people still remember them for their first round mishap in the last season’s postseason.

It seems they’ve put that debacle behind them, though, and it would do the rest of the NBA a lot of good to do the same.

Don’t discount Parker, Duncan, Popovich and the rest of these Spurs. They’re doing much more than hanging around. They are still standing.

After the JUMP, key stat-stuffers for today’s games:

ORL over IND, 85-81 – Not the prettiest of wins, but the Magic will take any kind of W they can get their hands on. Big D got 27 points and 8 rebounds as the Magic have won their 3rd in a row. Indiana has dropped 2 of its last 3 matches with Orlando.
LAC over WAS, 107-81 – Had Blake Griffin played in the 4th quarter, he could’ve gotten his triple-double. Despite not seeing any burn in the final frame, however, BG still almost got it, falling just 2 assists shy of the enviable stat-line. This was a good start to a 6-game road trip for the Clips, who rebounded after dropping their last game to Denver.
PHI over ATL, 98-87 – Montenegrin freshie Nikola Vucevic led 6 Sixers in double-digits as Philadelphia dumped the Hawks a night after getting dumped themselves by the Miami Heat. The 6’10” Swiss-born frontliner score 15 points on 7-of-10 FG shooting to make up for the absence of Elton Brand.
DET over NOH, 89-87 – Greg Monroe may have been responsible for clocking his own man, Brandon Knight, bad enough for the rookie to miss the rest of the game, but Monroe was also responsible for getting the Pistons back-to-back wins for just the second time this season. Knight will miss multiple games after Monroes broke his nose, though.
CLE over DAL, 91-88 – Well looky here! Last season’s champs bowed down to, probably, last season’s most downtrodden team. This year’s top pick has shown a tendency to come up big in the clutch and he counted the Mavs as his latest victims. Irving made a lay-up late in the game amidst a throng of defenders to give the Cavs yet another impressive win over a seeming playoff-bound foe.
NYK over NJN, 99-92 – Jeremy Lin is Taiwanese-American from Harvard. I’m willing to bet almost nobody in New York city ever thought someone with that description could come up with 25 points, 7 assists, 5 rebounds and 2 steals to make up for Melo’s 3-of-15 shooting and get the Knicks past the Nets. Reports are in that the Chinese mainlanders are now planning to “pirate” him from a possible stint with the Taiwanese national team. The cross-straight tensions just got a little more tense!
MIN over HOU, 100-91 – Kevin Love’s 25 points and 18 boards helped the T-Wolves get to .500 in the standings. Love, however, stepped on Luis Scola’s face on his way to that production. He hardly showed any remorse for it, though, and the Wolves won’t apologize for busting the Rockets for their 6th win in the last 10 games.
CHI over MIL, 113-90 – Luol Deng returned to action and scored 21 points to add to D-Rose’s 26 and the dynamic duo led the Bulls to their 11th road win. This time it was against a dangerous Bucks team that beat Miami and LA last week. It wasn’t much of a contest, however, as the Bulls led by 24 at the half and never really let up.
SAS over OKC, 107-96 – Before the game, many probably felt Tony Parker wouldn’t make it to the All-Star game. His 42 points might have just made people do a 180. The fiery Frenchman put together one of his finest displays ever to lead the Spurs past the erstwhile hottest team in the land – the Thunder. Parker also gave out 9 assists, making him the all-time assists leader in franchise history.
PHX over CHA, 95-89 – Robin Lopez has always been in the shadow of his much more skilled (come on, admit it) twin, but once or twice in a season, he can come up big, too. He scored 9 points in an early fourth quarter run that enabled the Suns to hand Charlotte its 11th straight loss. Lopez scored 13 in total, while Michael Redd started for the first time in two years to score 17 for the Suns.
UTA over LAL, 96-87 – One reason why the Lakers will have an extremely tough time getting deep into the playoffs is how bad they’ve been on the road. In 10 prior games they’ve only won 3 times. The Jazz just handed them loss #11 as Earl Watson sparked a fourth quarter dash that left the Lakers reeling. Al Jefferson and Paul Millsap also played well, combining for 34 markers, 26 boards and 4 rejections as Utah got its first win against LA in 3 tries.
POR over DEN, 117-97 – What a day for the French! Nicolas Batum hit a franchise record 9 threes on his way to 33 points as the Blazers beat the Nuggets and maintained their impressive home record, getting win #11 out of 12 home games. Batum wasn’t even 100% sure he’d play, what with knee woes hobbling him. It hardly mattered, though, as his 9 treys is the best yet this season.
SAC over GSW, 114-106 – Three Kings finished with 21 points or more, but it was DeMarcus Cousins’s first ever 20-20 game (21 points and 20 rebounds) that really sparked Sacramento to its 2nd win in a row. Backcourt marvels  Marcus Thornton and Tyreke Evans did a lot of damage, too, combining for 54 points. The Kings seemed pumped up in the extra period, thanks to an impassioned speech at the end of regulation by Cousins. Has the bad boy turned good? We’ll see.

Super Scorers (Top scorers of the night!)
Tony Parker (SAS) – 42
Nicolas Batum (POR) – 33
LaMarcus Aldridge (POR) – 29
Marcus Thornton (SAC) – 28
Dwight Howard (ORL) – 27

Ragin’ Rebounders (Top rebounders of the night!)
DeMarcus Cousins (SAC) & Marcus Camby (POR) – 20
Kevin Love (MIN) – 18

DeMarcus Cousins finished his first 20-20
game by beating the GS Warriors.

Dynamic Dishers (Top playmakers of the night!)
Derrick Rose (CHI) – 13
Kyle Lowry (HOU), Earl Watson (UTA), Deron Williams (NJN), & Ricky Rubio (MIN) – 11

Terrific Thieves (Top thieves of the night!)
John Salmons (SAC) & Jodie Meeks (PHI) – 5
Omri Casspi (CLE) & Steph Curry (GSW) – 4

Boomin’ Blockers (Top blockers of the night!)
Josh Smith (ATL) – 7
Brandan Wright (DAL), Kevin Durant (OKC), & Kris Humphries (NJN) – 4

Sharpshooters (Top 3-point shooters of the night!)
Nicolas Batum (POR) – 9
A LOT with 4

Nicolas Batum bucked his bum knee by hitting
9 threes to give the Blazers a win over Denver.

Feb. 4, 2012 First Five
C – Pau Gasol (LAL) – 24pts, 16rebs, 4asts, 2blks
F – LaMarcus Aldridge (POR) – 29pts, 9rebs, 5asts, 2stls, 1blk
F – Trevor Ariza (NOH) – 26pts, 7rebs, 4asts, 3stls
G – Derrick Rose (CHI) – 26pts, 13asts, 7rebs, 3 treys, 1blk
G – Tony Parker (SAS) – 42pts, 9asts, 3rebs, 2stls, 1blk

Pau Gasol and the rest of the Lakers ran into the tough-as-nails
Utah Jazz, who added to LA's woes on the road.

Honorable Mention:
Tyreke Evans (SAC) – 26pts, 9asts, 4rebs, 3stls, 1blk
Blake Griffin (LAC) – 21pts, 11rebs, 8asts, 2stls, 1blk
Kevin Love (MIN) – 25pts, 18rebs, 1ast, 1stl

For a full summary of the day, here’s today’s NBA Daily Zap:

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