Spurs lower the boom: SuperSonics no match as Bowen frustrates Allen; Parker nets 21 points
Web Posted: 02/25/2007 12:20 AM CST
Bruce Bowen dunked Saturday night, and Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said he'll have to see film of the two-handed flush to believe it — which is fine with Bowen.
If the verdict is still out in Father Time vs. Bruce Bowen, Bowen presented additional evidence to bolster the defense's case, hounding Ray Allen for much of the evening as the Spurs ran past the Seattle SuperSonics 102-71 at the AT&T Center.
Tony Parker regained his stroke, scoring 21 points in 25 minutes, and Robert Horry made four 3-pointers among his 17 points as the Spurs won for the fifth consecutive game to match their longest streak of the season. But it was Bowen's defense on Allen that allowed the Spurs to limit Seattle to its lowest total of the season.
Allen, who had been averaging nearly 30 points a game since Jan. 1, finished with 12 while missing 16 of his 20 shots. Of the four shots he did make, only one came when Bowen was on the floor — and that was a 3-pointer in transition when Bowen wasn't guarding him.
"We know (Allen) takes a lot of shots and is an excellent shooter," said Tim Duncan, who totaled six points, 15 rebounds and five blocks. "Bruce did a great job staying with him the whole time."
While Popovich has recently been concerned Bowen's back is bothering him more than the 35-year-old forward will admit, the veteran produced one of his best performances of the season. The rest of the team wasn't too bad, either.
Seattle, which might have been weary from the previous night's loss in New Orleans, shot just 33.8 percent. With Bowen chasing Allen, the Spurs frequently double-teamed Rashard Lewis, who scored just 10 points on 4-of-13 shooting.
The Spurs' defensive stops also fed their transition offense. Of the team's 41 baskets, 32 came after an assist.
"We couldn't make a shot, and our legs were tired," Sonics coach Bob Hill said. "Ray couldn't make a shot. Rashard was fouled about 25 times, and for whatever reason (the officials) don't protect him at all.
"With those two guys not scoring, it just made it difficult."
The Spurs, meanwhile, had little trouble finding capable scorers. They made 12 of their last 13 shots in the second quarter, including 10 in a row, to take a 56-34 lead into halftime. Parker contributed much of the fuel during the run, going 6 of 6 for 12 points in the last 6 minutes, 47 seconds of the half.
Slowed recently by tendinitis in his right knee, Parker was coming off his worst shooting performance of the season — he was 3 for 14 during Wednesday's victory in Atlanta. He looked headed for another tough night when he missed four of his five shots in the opening quarter but soon settled into a rhythm, repeatedly peppering the Sonics with open jump shots.
"When my outside shot is going, I can do pretty much what I want," Parker said. "But that's just one game, and I need to be consistent."
With Horry making three 3-pointers in a span of two minutes, the Spurs took a 14-point lead late in the first quarter. But as soon as Popovich subbed for Bowen, Allen buried a 17-foot jump shot, a 3-pointer and a 15-foot fadeaway on three consecutive possessions to quickly cut Seattle's deficit in half.
That was all Popovich needed to see. He put Bowen back on the floor to start the second quarter. Allen picked up two points on a pair of free throws when Bowen was called for a foul on what he thought was a clean block, but the Sonics guard did not make another shot the rest of the game.
Bowen didn't shut down Allen by himself — Duncan's help defense was strong — but he did most of the work.
"(Bowen is) an incredible athlete in that sense and mental as much as physical," Popovich said. "We all know he's not that big and strong."
Apparently, however, Bowen can still jump. Trailing Parker on a break in the second quarter, he took a pass and elevated over a pair of Sonics to drop in a dunk that brought the crowd and his teammates to their feet.
"Don't you have to touch the rim to consider it a dunk?" Duncan said. "I'm calling it a strong layup is what I'm calling it."
Popovich also had his doubts.
"I haven't seen the film," Popovich said, "but I think there's no doubt he put his knee or his hand in somebody's back and catapulted himself because he can't do that."
Bowen can live with his coach's skepticism.
"I'm done with trying to show him," Bowen said, laughing. "If he doesn't see now ... "