With their usual panache and purpose, the San Antonio Spurs had passed the rock to and fro, in and out. It ended up in the hands of Tiago Splitter, back to the bucket, five feet along the endline to the left of the lane, facing a soft double team, preventing his move to the hoop.
One teammate cut through the lane right to left but was thoroughly checked. Followed in sync, from around the left elbow, free thanks to an immaculate screen, streaked Manu
Ginobili. Splitter’s internal bounce pass was pin point. The Argentinian wonder laid the ball in the hoop relatively unimpeded.
In my mind’s ear, I could hear Charles Barkley barking, “Ginnnnnnnnnooooobly!!!!”
From the TV, Jeff Van Gundy exclaimed, “Exquisite.”
Which is how, more often than not, Greg Popovich’s offense looks and executes.
Exquisite. Beauteous to watch.
The question is — factoring in age, wear and tear, and the fact that Miami still puts the two best players on the floor including the only one who can grab any game by the short and curlies and say, “It is mine” — can the Spurs endure their way to another title?
I hope so.
I think not.
There was one moment, with 6:43 to play last night, when Game 2 slipped from the home team’s grasp.
Ginobili had just canned two FTs for an 87-85 lead in what had been a see saw battle from the opening tip.
Mario Chalmers drove the endline left to right, and, while passing under the hoop, inexplicably threw a vicious, unnecessary elbow into Tony Parker’s ribs. Parker dropped to the hardwood. It was not a flop.
It was a Flagrant 1. Two FTs and the ball.
Parker, obviously in pain, even after an extended stoppage for the zebras to check the monitors for the correctness of their call, missed both charity tosses. On the ensuing possession, wearing down after all these decades Tim Duncan missed two FTs.
LeBron then drained a trey.1
Danny Green missed a threeball.
Then James was fouled while driving to the hoop, and made both his free throws.
90-87, Miami. Even though Boris Diaw then canned a downtowner to knot it up, the ball game was over.
San Antonio, with an opportunity to extend its lead to six, or even seven, did not add a point. From a potential +5, it turned into a -5, a ten point swing.
The Heat’s two-point W squared the series at a game apiece, heading to South Beach.
* * * * *
Sorry that California Chrome lost.
Happy that, from this point on, I’ll never have to mention, or even think about Steve Coburn again.2
I shall say no more. The blowhard is just such an easy target for derision.
* * * * *
One’s a Cardinal. The other, a Wildcat. Thus, no smacktalk advantage for the yahoos of either fan base.
Perhaps St. X fans have a little smile, since both are Trinity grads, but other than that, no finger pointing.
As I react in all these situations, I think, “Geez, it’s only pot. College kids smoke pot. No big deal.”
Yet I wonder why these kids, under the microscope, with big time aspirations, take the risk?
Then I remember. They’re college kids. College kids smoke pot.
* * * * *
I’ve watched more college baseball in the last three days than in my entire life previously.
It’s what happens when one’s favorite team is a contender.
A couple of general observations, which are kind of “Yeah, duh.”
UC Irvine’s game is a mirror image of U of L’s.
The teams surviving all have great pitching.3
Texas Tech’s hurlers didn’t give up a run against College of Charleston in its Super Regional.
Not one of the remaining schools is clearly better than the others. Which means the Louisville Cardinals have a legit shot at making some noise in Omaha. Though I’d love for them to be playing somebody other than a big recent rival.
But, as you should recall, in the post season, Rule #1 is you only play who(m) you play.
I believe the CWS is actually two double elimination tourneys, with the survivors playing best 2 of 3 for the title. On Louisville’s side, besides opening foe Vandy, there are Irvine and Texas. As with the regionals, winning the first game is huge; winning the first two, humongous.
* * * * *
Besides the CWS, there’s the U.S. Open at Pinehurst. And the opening of the World Cup, which is only the biggest sporting event in the world.
Jozy Altidore is finally off the schneid. The US striker tallied twice on Saturday in the final friendly, a hope-inducing 2-1 W over Nigeria. The Americans played significantly better than they have for awhile.
Next: Ghana. It counts.
— Seedy K