Every morning, we will give you five things from the night before in the NBA to start your day.
1: Green > Gasol?
The Spurs matchup with the Lakers came down to two deciding plays. A 48-minute game and rivalry came down to the very end. The way you would expect.
San Antonio, trailing by one point, got into one of its favorite offensive sets. A floppy set with Stephen Jackson and Danny Green starting at the elbow and popping up to the perimeter on screens set by Tiago Splitter and Tim Duncan. Green was on Duncan's side of the floor and he came around a screen to get free at the wing. Kobe Bryant struggled to get around Tim Duncan's screen because Dwight Howard was in the way and failed to hedge to deny the passing lane to Green. Or maybe there was nothing he could do and Bryant got around the screen wrong.
Either way, Bryant was late when Tony Parker fed Green the ball and Green hoisted a 3-pointer to give the Spurs a two-point lead.
You would think the Lakers would respond with a play designed for Kobe Bryant. San Antonio did a good job denying Bryant the ball. When the ball was inbounded to Pau Gasol in the corner, he missed Kobe cutting backdoor as the pressure on him grew. He opted to hoist a 3-pointer that missed.
The Spurs secured the 84-82 win thanks to their late-game execution in this grind-it-out game. And, yes, the game came down to making shots. The Lakers had the chance to expand their fourth-quarter advantage but Metta World Peace missed two open 3-pointers late in the game that could have changed the complexion of the game.
Give credit to San Antonio for grinding as they always do. It is something this new Lakers squad is still learning how to do.
2: Record Low
A night after scoring 133 points in a triple overtime loss to the Jazz, you could not blame the Raptors for running out of gas late in Indiana. Or for losing, for that matter. Toronto may have run out of gas, but the team did not lose.
The Raptors scored five — that is right FIVE — fourth quarter points but still held on for a 74-72 victory at Banker's Life Fieldhouse. A big part of that was holding the Pacers to 14 points in the fourth quarter in an ugly ugly finish for a basketball game.
The five points in a quarter is the fewest scored by a winning team in the shot-clock era. The Raptors were just 1 for 18 in the final quarter. That might make the win all the more impressive.
Some positive offensive stats to note though: Jose Calderon recorded a triple double with 13 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists on 5-for-10 shooting. He was definitely doing something right. Someone had to score some points I guess.
Danny Green's game-winner
Tyson Chandler throws it down
Sheed yells "Hey AFLAC"
4: Line of the Night: Anderson Varejao — 35 points, 17/21 FGs, 18 rebounds
Anderson Varejao is having a career season. Then again, any time he scores more than 10 points it feels like he is outperforming his expectations. Varejao is not the most offensively gifted player in the world. The one thing he has always had is grit and hustle. Pure energy is Varejao's calling card. Games like the one he had in a 114-101 loss at Brooklyn last night are the kind of stat-stuffing games he is occassionally capable of.
5: You can quote me on that
Confidence and a little bit of swagger is a long time in coming.
I had this thought of putting the Soviet Union back together again. They were going to do a Putin.