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Spurs Execute Rare Beautiful Blowout

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My general theories on NBA blowouts are fairly simple: When it comes to our beloved Celtics, I'm not looking for any extra drama.  Winning big is the goal every night, and I'll always thoroughly enjoy soaking in every second of a beatdown victory.  When it comes to the hated Knicks, blowout losses work just fine.

But for everyone else in between, I'm simply a fan of this league and this game, which means that highly competitive good basketball is the first priority all the time.  Generally, this makes large margins of victory somewhat less preferable.

So there shouldn't be much to say about the Spurs' 20-point drubbing of the Hornets in Sunday's nightcap, particularly after a day on which the Lakers and Jazz played a hotly contested overtime thriller.

But there is.  Because the Spurs put on a clinic in playing team basketball, and they made it look pretty, too.

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Whether the Spurs qualify for the dreaded 'boring' title in general is a whole can of worms in and of itself, and loyal readers are likely already all too familiar with the fact that my biases here lie in favor of the black and silver.   But we're not about making that overall case this morning -- this is simply tribute to one night of great basketball.

The efficiency and cohesiveness of the Spurs' offense last night were nothing short of mesmerizing.  But it wasn't so much about the 51.3 percent the team shot from the field as it was why they shot so well.  For the most part (although there were certainly some impressive exceptions), the Spurs weren't scoring because they were getting out-of-this-world individual efforts on isolation sets and making tough shots on a play-to-play basis.  They were scoring because of the work they put in to make sure that they wouldn't have to take too many tough shots.

The ball was a blur last night when it was in the Spurs' possession.  They whipped it around the perimeter with abandon, always making the extra pass to turn a decent shot into a great one.   Parker to Ginobili to Finley, skipped across the court to Bowen, back to Parker to Manu to Udoka in the other corner for a trey, you get the idea.  It was like that all night, but never more so than in the third quarter when the Spurs broke the game open for good.  Michael Finley and Ime Udoka feasted on the open looks generated by the ball movement, combining to go 10-for-15 from the field for the evening, including 5-for-9 from deep.

The ball movement on the perimeter was just the beginning.  The three stars that drive this Alamo team had the high screen-and-roll working to perfection from the start.  Tony Parker was his usual dynamic self, slicing and dicing his way into the paint seemingly at will.  But Parker seemed to get several of his eight assists by finding a smoothly rolling Tim Duncan, who did an excellent of diving to the basket on plays when multiple defenders were forced to initially be attentive to Parker.  He also had faded back to the elbows and wings on several occasions, leading to vintage spot-up looks for Duncan, who knocked down shots or drew defenders and kicked the ball back to the perimeter.  His 10-for-13 effort was certainly a great individual performance, but it was also representative of the wonderful job the team did in getting players shots in spots and situations in which they were most comfortable.  The Spurs were credited with 27 assists on 39 made baskets for the game, and that came as no shock given the level of teamwork that was existent all night.

All of that praise comes without mentioning the return of the Spurs' trademark defense, which was stellar.  There seemed to be white jerseys everywhere, and Duncan had a particularly good game on this end as well, swatting four shots.  With the occasional exception of Chris Paul (who somehow managed to go 10-for-16 from the field), the Spurs converged effectively on shooters and drivers and did a great job forcing difficult shots from the Hornets while also capitalizing on several missed open looks by the Stingers as well.  Just another day at the office. 

What will happen in Tuesday night's Game 5 between the Spurs and Hornets remains anyone's guess, and only time will tell how much Sunday's blowout will mean to this series.

But no matter how the rest of this battle plays out, the Spurs' Game 4 performance will remain a work of art.