Kawhi scored sixteen in the fourth quarter of the Heat game in Miami. The Spurs had a long trip and rested LaMarcus. That might explain the loss of a 16-point first half lead but a good portion could be assigned to the Heat. Hassan Whiteside had a nice game as they try to get him to play worthy of his contract.
It was good game for Pau, who was able to show the scoring touch he is known for, flipping various floaters, jumpers, and of course moving the ball well.
USA Today’s Sam Amick featured the Spurs today, and discuss Pau’s transition. Any Spurs newcomer has a hard time, and without Tim to set the tone, it can be a little different. This discussion got me thinking about the extreme good fortune the Spurs have enjoyed (that is helped by good scouting and development). Former MVP David Robinson tutored Tim Duncan, transitioned into a role player, and retired. Then two-time MVP Tim Duncan guides Kawhi Leonard, recommends he get to the line, and retires. While Tim was already an MVP when Dave retired, Kawhi was the two-time defensive player of the year and MVP runner up. Oh an a Finals MVP. Good enough.
Despite the always-frantic and frustatingly good play by Goran Drajic, the spurs pulled it out by going to their best player. He smoothly dominated again. It is incredible. Nearly every major publication that follows the Spurs has written something on the guy and for good reason. He is still defending at the highest level, but adding a next-level of efficiency this season.
It is so hard to add anything to your game without sacrificing the time and effort required to perform at others. Mike Jordan was a good defender, but let Scottie Pippen do the grunt work against the league’s best. KL is out here defending the best, going against the opponent’s best, and succeeding even more than he was last season.