The San Antonio Spurs easily dispatched the injury-plagued Chicago Bulls on Sunday afternoon, utilizing crisp ball movement and perfect spacing on their way to a 116-105 win. Tony Parker emerged as a go-to force, nailing 13-19 shots for 32 points in his best game since his admission that hamstring woes have hampered him all year. Kawhi Leonard seemed to be everywhere on both sides of the ball yet again, and Patty Mills kept the offense flowing off the bench with 15 points.
Also, Tim Duncan didn’t hit a single field goal. That seems kind of weird.
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Duncan missed all eight of his attempts from the floor in nearly 28 minutes of rather strong all-around play, the first time in his career that he’s gone an entire game without hitting a shot. Duncan hit three of four free throws and managed eight boards and three assists, but his ohfer from the floor marked the first such goose egg in 1310 career NBA games.
It wasn’t even a bad game for the future Basketball Hall of Famer – that’s the kicker. Had Duncan rattled in one of his eight attempts from the floor, nobody would have even noticed Tim’s supposed misstep.
Spurs coach Gregg Popovich has been limiting the big man’s minutes for years, literally dating back to a decade ago when Coach Pop decided to only play Duncan 33 minutes a contest on his team’s way to a third championship ring in 2005. Duncan, who will turn 39 in April, isn’t quite the offensive force he once was, but he can still carry a team on that end when called upon, and he went into Sunday averaging 5.7 makes a game, while nearly shooting 50 percent from the field.
The Spurs’ win allows them to briefly tie the Dallas Mavericks for the sixth seed in the loaded Western Conference playoff bracket, though the Mavs will take on the lowly Los Angeles Lakers on Sunday evening and likely vault back into the lead.
With that in place, the Spurs will still enter the postseason as The Team Nobody Wants To Play for, near as we can tell, the 17th time in the 18 seasons Tim Duncan has played in San Antonio. We’re excepting the 1999-00 postseason, which saw Duncan on the bench recovering from injury, the only other time in his career that he’s actually looked fallible before our adoring eyes.
The only other time until Sunday afternoon, that is. Here’s hoping Duncan does the right thing and stay after practice tomorrow to get some extra shots up. He’s been slacking for too long.
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