Spurs surge late in a battle of the depleted

As the San Antonio Spurs began their annual Rodeo Road Trip, their first stop in New Orleans nearly ended in embarrassing fashion.

While the Spurs’ home, the AT&T Center, is filled with cowboys and kids alike cornering barrels and busting mutton, the Spurs will face nine consecutive opponents on the road.  A nine game road trip alone is a daunting task to escape from with a near .500 record, but as San Antonio continues to nurse injuries, the road might prove to be a less than forgiving friend.

All looked well to start the road trip, however; after a quick game in New Orleans, San Antonio’s next five games are against teams in the East, whom the Spurs sport a 13-4 record against.  With a quick “get in, get out” game against the even more depleted Pelicans, all signs point to a fairly successful road trip.

Too bad New Orleans, even with their two leading scorers out with lengthy injuries, decided to remind everyone that they do, in fact, play professional basketball.  The nerve of some people…

Despite coming out with a starting lineup including known benchwarmers Alexis Ajinca and Brian Roberts, the young talent of Anthony Davis and Eric Gordon proved to be much more of a problem than expected.  After a head-scratching half of basketball, the Spurs trailed this ragtag group (dare I say flock?) of Pelicans 54-42.

One positive that I can pull from the first half is the fact that Danny Green started after a 10-game absence due to a broken bone in his hand.  That’s about it though.  Chalk it up to the sudden appearance of rotations that had been unused for months due to injuries, or perhaps some mysterious New Orleans Voodoo, but the Spurs were just awful.

Anthony Davis shows his length and sneaky strength in a powerful throw-down (via nola.com)

Anthony Davis shows his length and sneaky strength in a powerful throw-down (via nola.com)

With that being said, all the credit in the world goes to New Orleans and Anthony Davis for stepping up against adversity.  Words can’t describe in full how good of a player Anthony Davis is and how much of an impact he makes on both sides of the ball.  Before his rookie season, I conducted the Davis Hate Train, and I can’t stress enough how wrong I was. His length and footwork alone puts him in position to make a play at all times; whether it be skying for a block or rebound, or snaking through the defense for an uncontested layup, The Brow seemed to be everywhere at once.

But alas, the one-man show of pure athleticism was no match for the grizzled Spurs system.  Nothing says “this was a weird game” like Matt Bonner, the Red Mamba, giving the Spurs their first lead of the game after trailing for 43 straight minutes. The Spurs only needed one lead change in the fourth quarter to come away with a win.

Despite the still 12 point deficit after three, the Spurs turned up the intensity in the fourth, outscoring New Orleans by 19 in the final quarter to win 102-95.  

Tony Parker came up big in the second half, scoring 21 of his 32 to help lead the comeback and seal the win.  

So as San Antonio the city celebrates its Western history with rodeo festivities, the Spurs head east.  While you often hear stories of how great long road trips can be for team bonding and morale, I imagine the veterans of the Spurs will be doing nothing more than rating which hotel beds brought the most comfort during nightly knee-icing.