Despite Win, Spurs Need To Clamp Down On Defense and Turnovers

By Gregory Moore
Updated: March 3, 2005

SAN ANTONIO – The San Antonio Spurs may have defeated the Toronto Raptors with a 92-86 win but this game was indicative of how atrocious their defense and overall play has been for quite sometime. During much of the game, while the Spurs were shooting on average 45% from the field most of the game, it was the seventeen turnovers and lack of consistent defense that allowed the Raptors to hang around the game; even when their opponent was shooting 20% from the field.

“We’ve been playing like this before the All Star break,” Spurs’ head coach Greg Popovich said afterwards. “While it was a win, we have a lot of work to do or else teams will come back on us and beat us.” The Spurs have not truly played “Spurs” basketball since the month of February. In the three games that are the most current, they allowed Memphis to get command of the game and win, they allowed Cleveland to climb back into the game when they were down by six and it took a 20-foot prayer by Tim Duncan to solidify the win on Monday, and this game simply showed that the team, as a whole, was not picking up defensive assignments the way they should.

“Taking care of ourselves, making plays and playing our best is our biggest obstacle right now,” Duncan said. “If we can take care of the ball, hopefully the end result will be in our favor.” Duncan scored 13 points in the contest while Manu Ginobili scored 17 points. Robert Horry contributed 13 points off the bench.

For the Raptors, they were led by Chris Bosh’s 16 points while Rafer Alston and Jalen Rose scored 15 points each.

One of the telling signs of possible fatigue is the fact that the trademark defense that has gotten them the best record overall in the league seems to be lapsed at times. Against the Raptors, it really showed in certain areas.

“They have a lot of good shooters on their team,” Ginobili said. “When Bosh isn’t on the floor, they can put five guys on the floor who can shoot with range so our defense is a bit unbalanced against them at times.” GAME NOTES: The Spurs will retire Sean Elliott’s jersey on Sunday when the team takes on the Utah Jazz. Elliott, who spent all but one year with the Spurs, is best known for the “Memorial Day Miracle” three point shot during Memorial Day in 1999. It was that shot that helped propel the team to their first NBA championship. Elliott retired from basketball after the 2000-01 season and became the first player in league history to return to action after a major organ replacement. It was in August of 2000 when his brother Noel donated one of his kidneys to Sean. Elliott had lived with the kidney disease for six years prior to that transplant. The retirement will air locally on Fox Sports Southwest.