It’s been said enough to be cliche that you can’t teach an old dog new tricks. But you can teach a younger-ish dog old tricks, so maybe that’s the bright side to Tim Duncan‘s play against Marc Gasol on Saturday night. Maybe the Big Fundamental provided Gasol a blueprint for league domination moving forward? Regardless of whether Gasol learned anything, Tim Duncan is playing like he can still recite formulas from his freshman year statistics class at Wake Forest. The Spurs’ ageless big man showed the Grizzlies up-and-coming big man who was still the Western Conference boss.
After last week’s “Restgate” and the ensuing national debate, that even made the front page of Saturday’s New York Times (yes, I still get the weekend paper delivered), the Spurs went to overtime against Memphis on Saturday night. They stormed back from 15 points down in the third quarter and beat the streaking Grizzlies in the extra session. I wonder where they got the legs to overcome such a large fourth quarter deficit and push for the extra five minutes? Anyway, despite the attention paid to Popovich’s decision and Stern’s ensuing $250,000 fine, the game between the two teams with the best records in the Western Conference did not disappoint, and neither did Tim Duncan, who outplayed Marc Gasol for most of the first half, stripped Gasol of the ball to begin overtime, and then stripped him again to rob him of an easy layup later in overtime. Tim Duncan isn’t done yet.
In the first period, Duncan started the game missing his first two jumpers. After getting that out of his system, he made his next three field goals over the rest of the first segment, including a dunk on Gasol, a primordial yelp and subsequent stare down I can’t remember ever witnessing from Duncan throughout his career. He then missed his first jumper to start the second quarter, and made his next five buckets, not to mention 4-for-4 from the line. All told, he finished the first half shooting 8-for-11 from the field and 4-for-4 from the line for 20 first half points and eight rebounds. He was a beast, and there wasn’t much Gasol could do.