Manu Ginobili whips smooth behind-the-back pass for a crafty assist
At 40-years-young, Manu Ginobili is still one of the most intelligent and entertaining players in the league. He’s lost some bounce and he’s yet to play over 27 minutes in a game this season, but if you stick around your television set to get a glimpse of the basketball virtuoso, the ageless Argentine wonder will make it worth your while.
Tuesday night, Ginobili pulled a highlight out of his magic bag of tricks with a smooth behind the back assist to second-year forward Davis Bertans. Manu took a poor outlet pass from Patty Mills and in one fluid motions whipped the ball right into Bertans’ sweet spot for an easy runner in the lane.
San Antonio has struggled to get their offense off the ground recently, but they were delighted to square off with the fast paced Denver Nuggets on their home floor at the AT&T Center. The Spurs had no problem scoring buckets in a hurry. Unfortunately, neither did the Nuggets.
As the matchup came to a close, the Spurs were up two and Denver had possession with a chance to tie or win the game with a triple. It was déjà vu for the Nuggets who had lost the night before on a missed three point attempt at the final buzzer.
With the game on the line and one last chance to take home the victory, Denver once again turned to Will Barton to save the day. The sixth man missed the game-winner against Boston less than 24 hours ago and history repeated itself again in San Antonio as his shot danced around the rim and ultimately rattled out.
LaMarcus Aldridge led all scorers with 30 points and San Antonio avoided a near loss. Ginobili played just under half of the contest, but his four assists and three connections from downtown were integral to the Spurs’ 106-104 victory.
San Antonio tallied a season-high 33 assists and shot an efficient 50 percent from the floor. It wasn’t their highest scoring game of the season, but the easy offense was welcome sight as the Spurs offense had generated only 88 points per game over the last two games of their five game homestand.
Kyle Anderson scored a career-high 18 points against the Nuggets on a staggering 9-12 shooting. The affectionately nicknamed “Slo Mo” isn’t known for his aggressive play on the offensive end, but the Spurs will surely need him to step up his game while Kawhi Leonard continues to rehab his nagging quadriceps injury that has forced him to miss the majority of the season.
The Spurs have relied heavily on LA to shoulder most of the scoring load on a nightly basis, but without a legitimate second option to divert the defense away from the big man, San Antonio’s offense has come to a near standstill when he’s shut down. While Leonard and Rudy Gay are their first and third best scorers respectively, they’re both out for the foreseeable future.
Without their primary options to generate pace and space, Gregg Popovich has really had to reach in the bottom of the barrel to come up with ways to keep the Spurs competitive. Although it’s true the abrasive head coach is a playbook wizard, even he will need a little San Antonio magic to keep the Spurs alive when the playoff come to town.