Spurs hang on to beat toughest rival; Cavs go from bad to worse

Manu Ginobili

Manu Ginobili (photo. Xinhua)

Apparently the Timberwolves are to the Spurs what the Bobcats were to the Celtics a couple years ago. Remember when the ‘Cats were generally bad, but somehow managed to always give the Big Three C’s a hard time? Last night’s Spurs/Wolves game was the third time in three matchups this year that the game went down to the wire, and the third time San Antonio walked out with a close win … Midway through the fourth quarter, Antonio McDyess hit a standstill baseline jumper (the guy used to have a 40-something-inch vertical) to put the Spurs up seven, and after Kevin Love responded with a hook shot, Manu Ginobili (21 pts, 7 rebs, 4 stls) snatched an offensive rebound and everybody in blue forgot about him, leaving him alone for a baseline J to make it a seven-point game again. Minnesota rallied, and with 1:30 remaining trailed by three. On a crucial possession, a tipped pass cost K-Love (18 pts, 17 rebs) what would have been an open straightaway trey, then Love tried to sneak a bullet pass around Tim Duncan that TD intercepted like Ed Reed. After George Hill gave the ball right back on a turnover, Luke Ridnour missed a three. Manu missed a runner on the other end, and with 9 seconds left, the Wolves had one more shot. Ridnour and Love couldn’t get anything on a pick-and-pop, so Anthony Tolliver ended up with the rock and airballed a three … Back home after an eventful Eastern road trip — losses to New York and Boston, barely beating Indiana, Gregg Popovich nearly challenging his whole team to a fight — the Spurs still had some little internal issues. Tony Parker was barely a factor (11 pts, 4 asts), and Pop benched him for a long time after a play where TP could have taken a charge from Love but stepped out of the way. Yeah, you want your guys to sacrifice for the W, but c’mon: Would you step in front of Kevin Love if you were built like Parker? … And keep in mind Michael Beasley sat out the entire second half with an ankle injury. So this wasn’t even a full-strength Wolves squad … No matter how good your best players are, it’s always better to play 5-on-5 instead of 3-on-5. The Miami Heat had to learn that lesson again, as they went into Portland against the always-patchwork Blazers and got all they could handle. Bottom line: Dwyane Wade, LeBron James and Chris Bosh alone can’t knock off a team that gets key contributions from LaMarcus Aldridge, Nic Batum, Marcus Camby, Wes Matthews, Patty Mills and pretty much everybody else who stepped on the court … Oh wait, yes they can. Miami still won despite their Big Three scoring 89.7 percent of the team’s points …

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