It's been a good week for the Silver-and-Black faithful. After impressive romps against the Denver Nuggets and Golden State Warriors, San Antonio delivered again with a gutsy double-overtime victory against the hated Mavericks in Dallas. Tim Duncan paced the Spurs with 32 points and 14 boards and followed up the win by celebrating a milestone the next night.
On Wednesday in the AlamoCity, Duncan laced up his kicks for his 1,000'th NBA contest in twelve memorable seasons. Timmy marked the occasion by hanging 19 points and 11 rebounds on the Atlanta Hawks trio of youngsters Josh Smith, Al Hortford and Zaza Pachulia, but it was sparkplug Manu Ginobili who led the Spurs to victory with 27 points off the bench. Now is as good a time as any to reflect on the rings and pride Duncan has brought to San Antonio with less pomp and recognition than say, Kevin Garnett has displayed and received in only one season as a champion.
When the first voting returns were announced the following day for this year's NBA All-Star Game in lackluster Phoenix, Duncan led all Western Conference power-forwards with 442,203 votes. Timmy will likely play in his 11th mid-season classic this February and odds are that at least one other Spur will join him in a reserve role. Manu ranks fourth in fan voting amongst Western Conference guards, trailing Kobe Bryant, Chris Paul, and the injury-prone Tracy McGrady with 166,981 tallies. Parker ranks sixth behind Jason Kidd with 161,638 votes and for perspective, Orlando's resident Superman, Dwight Howard, leads all players with 775,933 All-Star nods.
Next up for the Spurs is a pair of trap games against the underachieving Minnesota Timberwolves and the Oklahoma City Thunder. Much like T.J. Ford before him, fellow University of Texas standout Kevin Durant's appearances in San Antonio have been treated as a homecoming of sorts for the Longhorns' alum. The jury's still out on whether or not Texas fans will cheer for a player wearing an Oklahoma jersey, but at their best the Spurs could be staring down a six-game winning streak before a Western Conference Semi-Finals rematch in New Orleans with CP3 and the Hornets.
Perhaps the biggest surprise behind the Spurs recent upswing has been the emergence of Concord, New Hampshire's “Red Rocket.” In his five games at starting center Matt Bonner deserves props for averaging 11 points and provided temporary relief on the rebounding front, but he's not making anyone forget Robert Horry just yet.