Spurs prevent 0-2 dud despite losing Parker late in the fourth
If you thought the Spurs were going to take punches to the chin and allow themselves to get rooked again, think again. The Spurs came into Game 2 aggressive from the start and did not look back. The Spurs needed to make adjustments quickly and head coach Gregg Popovich knew exactly what to do to even up the series.
He stuck Kawhi Leonard on James Harden for the majority of the game and he struggled all night. Popovich also went with a smaller line up when D’Antoni sent out his bigs, and even though the game started out evenly for both teams, it wasn’t long before the Spurs went up by as many as twelve points before the half. Kawhi scored 34 points. Danny Green probably doesn’t want coach Pop tearing him to shreds all the time at practice so he also came up big for the Spurs, he only had 12 points but defensively he was all over the floor.
Tony Parker looked like vintage Tony Parker with 18 points until he suffered a gruesome left leg injury in the fourth. An MRI is set for this morning, but Manu Ginobili and Pop have said that it doesn’t look good, and they don’t expect him back anytime soon. But that didn’t stop the Spurs from playing. After he went down the Spurs went on a 19-0 run to put this game away. Although the future in the post-season without Parker isn’t good that’s still not their biggest concern, unfortunately it’s the slow-footed Lamarcus Aldridge. Yes he performed better scoring 15 points in Game 2, but he continues to hold the ball for too long on offense allowing the Rockets to re-adjust and defend the ball better. Without Parker going forward, not just Patty Mills but Aldridge is going to have to put his ego to the side and start playing like that All-Star we all saw in Portland.
The Spurs played Houston’s game here confusing Harden with Leonard guarding him and because of that it was hard for Harden to get other guys involved. Trevor Ariza shot lights out in Game 1, but when he was defended better he only produced a lousy two points in 32 minutes. Ryan Anderson didn’t cool down at all as he remained hot scoring 18 points and made 4-for-5 three-pointers. Clint Capela had 14, Patrick Beverly scored 12, and shot a poor 1-for-5 from three-point land. James Harden suffered a big setback with 13 points and 2-for-9 from behind the arc.
The Spurs returned the favor for sure here, but this is still scary and could turn out to be a bad matchup for the Spurs going forward. There’s no telling if Kawhi well remain to stick on Harden for majority of the time in Games 3 and 4, because the Spurs are going to need him in other places on the floor and creating shots for his teammates. The Rockets definitely died by the three here, while the Spurs were two shy from tying Houston’s 22 from Game 1. One thing for sure though is that these two teams are going to continue to be physical with each other as this series gets deeper.