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Spurs 88 - Clippers 74

How do the Spurs do it?

Do great players make mediocre players good?  Why wouldn't mediocre players make great players mediocre?  Or does the coach make all the difference?

More to the point, how could a Spurs team that started Jacque Vaughn (10th NBA season, 6th team, career scoring average of 4.6), Francisco Elson (4th season, 2nd team, 4.3 average), Bruce Bowen (11th season, 5th team, 6.5 average) and Brent Barry (12th season, 5th team, 9.8 average) beat anyone, let alone do so in dominant fashion?  Most teams don't start one guy who averages less than 7 points a game - the Spurs started three.  And it just doesn't matter.

Players that were mediocre, and I mean for YEARS, suddenly become 'great role players' when they go to San Antonio.  Bowen played in the league for five seasons in almost complete anonymity before he became a fixture on the All-Defensive team after he joined the Spurs in 2001 (where he has started every game he's ever played for them, including over 400 in a row).  Elson would never have played for Denver if Nene and KMart had not gotten hurt, and yet he is now the starter for a healthy title contender.  

Look at it another way - take Elton Brand and put Jacques Vaughn, Brent Barry, Bruce Bowen and Francisco Elson around him, and how many games would that team win?  Is Duncan that much better than Brand?  The numbers don't seem to support it, and many thought Brand (3 years younger) had surpassed the Big Fundamental last season.  Is Popovich that much better than MDsr?  Don't get me started, but if the coach makes that much difference, then the league should ban Popovich for life, simply to keep things competitive and give other teams a chance.  

Sure, Ginobili is great too, and though he didn't start he had a big impact on this game.  But even so, the Clippers were behind at the half and Ginobili didn't have a field goal.  How do the Spurs just keep winning, regardless of the seeming stiffs they surround Duncan with?  I REALLY DON'T GET IT!

I said going into this game that Kaman needed to play well.  That did not so much happen.  He missed his first eight shots... in many different ways, some previously undiscovered.  He turned easy shots into tough shots, tough shots into air balls, and everything else into a turnover.  The Spurs defense was OK - but the 37.5% Clipper shooting was as much about bad LAC offense as it was about good SAS defense.

Ooh, how Freudian.  LAC offense.  That says a lot.  Obviously, you can't beat many teams shooting 37.5%.  And the Spurs aren't one of them, even with a bunch of stiffs in the starting lineup.

I also said that if the Clippers continued their recent stretch of strong defense, I'd be OK with a loss.  Eh.  88 points is 10 points below the Spurs' season average, though 47.6% shooting is a little bit above their season mark.  It's an OK defensive effort, but certainly not what we were hoping for.