The Texas Stars, the minor league AHL team for the Dallas Stars, are still trying to find their legs to defend their AHL Calder Cup.
Within the past week, the Stars have finished 2-2 going 2-1 against rivals San Antonio Rampage and losing to Oklahoma City Barons.
The Stars faced the Rampage early last week and needed to gather the win as the Rampage sat seven points above the Stars in the West Division standings. Ramgage goalie Dan Ellis who boasted a .923 save percentage in the contest while Stars rookie Gemel Smith scored four of his six goals this season against Ellis.
But, this time around, the Stars could not be stopped as they cruised to a 6-1 victory. After a tight first period, Cameron Gaunce’s score put the Stars on top 1-0. They exploded in the second period with a four goal second period.
Smith continued his success against the Rampage with two goals and Jamie Oleksiak led all skaters with three points (one goal, two assists).
With the win, the Stars are just one point back of the eighth spot and two points behind for the No. 6 seed.
However, in the next two weeks the Stars travel for a difficult six-game road stretch.
In basketball, the San Antonio Spurs’ D-league team, the Austin Spurs finished on a good note before the All-Star break last week.
Spurs rookie Kyle Anderson was named the D-League performer of the week as the team went 2-0 against Grand Rapids Drive while Anderson averaged 19 points, 11 rebounds, 5.5 assists, and 1.5 blocks.
During this six-game win streak for the Spurs, JaMychal Green and Bryce Cotton were named to the D-League All-Star team for the Western Conference. Along with them, Jarell Eddie competed in the three-point contest.
The Spurs headed into All-Star break 22-9 and looking good to make a run into the playoffs.
The San Antonio Spurs are one of the hottest teams in the NBA as of late. Winners of 11 of their last 13 games, the Spurs look to be once again one of the powerhouses in the league, and, a championship contender.
While most of the focus recently has been on this San Antonio team, basketball enthusiasts should actually be putting their attention on the Spurs D-League affiliate, the Austin Spurs.
Since the San Antonio Spurs purchased the D-League franchise, the Austin based team has become a model for other NBA teams on how to successfully operate what is essentially a minor league basketball team.
While under the San Antonio Spurs ownership for the past seven, going on eight seasons, the Austin Spurs have posted a winning percentage greater than .600 five times. The franchise has also won one D-League title during that time span.
The amazing part is that all this winning has not completely been a function of players just wanting to come to play for a team run by the San Antonio Spurs. It’s also the willingness of players from the parent team to come up to Austin to develop their game.
Four players on the San Antonio’s current roster have had D-League experience, Kyle Anderson Austin Daye, Danny Green, and Cory Joseph. Two of those players, Green and Joseph, are playing significant roles for the team. One of those, Green, is in the starting five.
The work San Antonio has done to integrate the D-League franchise into their organization has been fantastic. They have been able to get everyone in the organization to buy in on how valuable a tool the Austin team is.
In fact, last season, Cory Joseph actually asked San Antonio head coach Gregg Popovich to be assigned to the D-League team.
“Can I go back to the D-League?” Joseph told nba.com.
The request was odd, especially considering most NBA players experience negative emotions and thoughts when asked to serve in the minor league for basketball.
Players never want to be sent down, nonetheless ask to. Even Popovich was surprised by the decision.
“You don’t get that kind of a request,” Popovich said.
Nevertheless Popovich agreed and the run in the D-League seems to be doing wonders for Joseph’s NBA career.
Getting the players on-board is just one side of the equation though. The other side, and often equally ignored, is understanding the rules of the D-League and how assignments work.
What makes the Austin team so special is that San Antonio has a mastery on the rules of the D-League and knows how to put it to good use.
This offseason, San Antonio brought in five players on non-guaranteed contracts into training camp. They ended up waiving all five, which was not surprising considering the team already had 15 players under guaranteed contract.
While a move to bring in those five players when they were going to be waived may seem perplexing to the casual fan, to the San Antonio organization it is regarded as a smart move.
By waiving those five players before the start of the season, San Antonio was allowed to assign three of those players to their Austin franchise.
That understanding of the D-League is so valuable, especially in a league where the talent gap is small and any little advantage can make the world of a difference.
These two points are not the only things that make this Austin Spurs team so special. There are numerous reasons that serve evidence as to why this franchise is so great such as the team having former NBA players as coaches, former NBA front office men handling the team’s basketball operations, and much more.
The San Antonio Spurs are having another great season and they have the Austin Spurs to thank for quite a bit of that success. The Austin team has put a big stamp on this NBA organization from developing players to having some of their front office guys move up to San Antonio.
San Antonio might be rolling right now, but, the biggest bright spot of this organization just might be their D-League affiliate.
This NBA off-season has been the most intriguing since the “decision” in 2010.
Ironically enough, this off-season was once again centered on LeBron James. This decision however, featured King James announcing he will be “coming home” to Cleveland. But more drama brewed as the Cavaliers maneuvered a way to land Kevin Love, the Bulls got back a healthy Derrick Rose and added veteran Pau Gasol, and the Clippers are poised for a run.
When LeBron decided to sign with the Cavaliers, the dominoes began to take place. Wade and Bosh decided to resign with Miami while Melo also gave the Knicks another chance. The drama continued when Lance Stephenson wasn’t impressed with the Paces offer and signed with a young Charlotte Hornets team. All these big headlines overshadow one big story, the defending champion Spurs have brought back the entire championship roster to defend their title
The San Antonio Spurs started off by giving Gregg Popovich an extension. And then slowly the pieces began to come together; Tim Duncan decided to stay one more season, Patty Mills and Boris Diaw were both resigned, and then drafted Kyle Anderson who is the perfect fit for this franchise. And not mention, Finals MVP Kawhi Leonard, Manu Ginobili, and Tiago Splitter are back and ready to repeat.
So the always loaded West will pack all the heat we are used to. The Spurs, Thunder, and Clippers seem to be at a higher level than the rest, but that gap may be decreasing as the Warriors, Blazers, and Rockets will be in the mix. The Mavs also reloaded by signing Parsons and trading for fan favorite Tyson Chandler, who anchored their championship run back in 2011. And then there are the teams fighting for the last playoff spot, the Grizzlies, Suns, Nuggets, Lakers and Pelicans. But even the bottom tier teams, Kings, Jazz, and Wolves are intriguing because of the young unproven talent they consist of.
In the East, the obvious clash of the titans, Cleveland and Chicago, is almost too perfect of a battle for the conference finals, but it is way too soon to pencil that in. The Wizards added a much needed veteran Paul Pierce to an already talented roster, Lance Stephenson bolted for Charlotte, and the Raptors are getting better with experience. The devastating injury to Paul George and the departure of Stephenson leave the Pacers fighting for a lower playoff seeding. And then the always drama filled Brooklyn Nets and New York Knicks will be vying for a playoff spot. All in all, the East seems like it’ll be a collision course between the Bulls and Cavaliers barring any major injury or upset.
As if all this wasn't enough to pack into one off-season, this rookie class added another dimension. This draft class was said to be the most talented since the 2003 draft which included LeBron, Wade, Bosh, and Carmelo. Unfortunately, the way the league is powered right now, these talented rookies were placed on teams that are all rebuilding. Wiggins was traded to the Wolves, Parker drafted to the Bucks, Embiid to the 76ers. None of these teams seem positioned to make a playoff run. But rookies such as Doug McDermott, Noah Vonleh, and Kyle Anderson have chances to help their teams make a deep playoff push.
With all this being said, the offseason is all just speculation, stats, and evaluations. The NBA season is a grueling 82 games where anything goes.
San Antonio Spurs center Tiago Splitter goes to the basket against the Miami Heat in the first half in Game 4 of the NBA basketball finals in Miami on Thursday. The Spurs won 107-86.
This summer the San Antonio Spurs won their fifth NBA championship, crushing the Miami Heat in the NBA Finals four games to one. The 2013-2014 San Antonio Spurs are one of the great championship teams in NBA history, and their recent victory further solidified the Spurs as perhaps the best franchise in professional sports. This year’s team also personified the sacrifice of individual acclaim for a greater goal, a characteristic increasingly rare in athletics, which, even on the collegiate level, focus on profit today.
The Spurs avenged last year’s devastating loss to the Heat in the NBA Finals. In Game Six of the 2013 series, the Spurs were on the verge of winning a championship, up by 5 points with 28 seconds left, before a series of errors and miraculous plays by Miami cost them the game. Two days later the Heat won the 2013 NBA crown in Game Seven. It was an absolutely gut-wrenching defeat for Spurs players, coaches and fans, the type of loss that could set a franchise back for years. But the Spurs entered the 2013-2014 season refusing to feel sorry for themselves. In training camp, head coach Gregg Popovich showed the team the film from the 2013 Finals and urged the players to use the loss as motivation for the upcoming season.
And use it they did. The Spurs stressed teamwork over individual performances. The Spurs finished the regular season with the league’s best record, and Popovich won NBA Coach of the Year. Throughout the season and playoffs, the team employed a playing system based on crisp passing, excellent three-point shooting and brilliantly-executed fundamental basketball skills. In the NBA Finals, the Spurs completely dismantled the Miami Heat, with each victory coming by at least 15 points. For his superb play, Kawhi Leonard, a third-year player for the Spurs, was named the Most Valuable Player of the NBA Finals. Heat players themselves praised the Spurs. Chris Bosh, the Heat’s center, exclaimed after the series: “They played the best basketball I’ve ever seen.” LeBron James, the Heat’s Forward and team captain, similarly described San Antonio: “It’s all for the team and it’s never about the individual. That’s the brand of basketball, and that’s how team basketball should be played.”
The Spurs, with their consistent winning and class, are widely considered the model franchise in the NBA, and indeed, one of the best in all of professional sports. Popovich, who played college basketball at the Air Force Academy, is a brilliant tactician who runs his team with military precision while embracing a family-like atmosphere. R. C. Buford, the Spurs’ unassuming general manager, along with Popovich, has a knack for scouting basketball talent around the globe. (Buford was named the NBA’s top executive this season.)
The Spurs have benefited from having gifted basketball players with selfless personalities on their roster over the years. The team and its players are beloved in the Alamo City and often participate in service events throughout the region, much like UT student athletes do in Austin. During the ‘70s and ‘80s, Hall of Famer George “The Iceman” Gervin, James Silas and UT alum Johnny Moore introduced basketball to San Antonio. In 1989, David Robinson began his Hall of Fame career with the Spurs and achieved much success in the ‘90s with teammates Sean Elliott and Avery Johnson. Not until the arrival of Popovich in late 1996 and Tim Duncan in 1997, however, did the Spurs reach their full potential. Robinson and Duncan formed the “Twin Towers,” using their size to dominate the low post, and won the franchise’s first NBA championship in 1999. The duo won the title again in 2003 in Robinson’s final year, aided by newcomers Manu Ginóbili, Tony Parker and Bruce Bowen. The Spurs also captured NBA championships in 2005 and 2007. Both the franchise and its players have demonstrated great loyalty to one another. The front office rarely makes blockbuster trades, contributing to a sense of stability in the organization, and Spurs superstars frequently take pay cuts to allow more cap room for the team to spend on free agents who help the team compete for championships.
An individual-first attitude plagues professional sports today. Money too often drives athletes and team owners. Players frequently seem more concerned with earning riches than winning championships. Management seldom exhibits loyalty to athletes, as players suffer the uncertainty of trades and being cut from the team. Owners likewise appear most interested in the bottom line, and are not opposed to moving franchises to other cities if more profits can be made. These negative attributes in professional sports unfortunately can make fans cynical. The issue of money also has become controversial in college sports, as debate rages over whether or not student athletes should be paid for their part in helping university athletic departments make historic profits. Recently, the National Labor Relations Board ruled that student-athletes at Northwestern University could form a union. UT possesses the wealthiest athletic department in the country, and will have a major voice in future discussions about paying college athletes.
Because of the individual-first attitude in professional sports today, it is immensely satisfying to see the San Antonio Spurs rewarded for their team-centered excellence. The 2013-2014 Spurs team deserved this championship for so many reasons. Hard work, talent, game execution and redemption from last year’s brutal defeat, yes, but mostly because the players, coaches, and entire organization conduct themselves with professionalism, loyalty and class that make the Spurs the model NBA franchise. With hall of fame veteran leadership and emerging stars like Kawhi Leonard, the Spurs are in good shape for the future. Congratulations to the San Antonio Spurs for an amazing championship season and for conducting themselves in a manner that reminds fans how truly great sports can be when individuals sacrifice for a greater team goal.
Briscoe is a history graduate student from Carrizo Springs.
The San Antonio Spurs are NBA champions once more.
For the fifth time in franchise history, the Spurs hoisted the Larry O’Brien trophy Sunday night. San Antonio overcame a horrendous start to defeat the Miami Heat, 104-87, in game five of the NBA Finals.
After struggling in the first two games of the series, Spurs forward Kawhi Leonard turned things around and played phenomenally the rest of the series. Leonard sealed the series with 22 points and nine rebounds in the series-clinching game, earning the NBA Finals Most Valuable Player.
“Right now it’s surreal to me,” Leonard said. “They all pushed me. The fans pushed me, Coach Pop pushed me, the fans pushed me.”
After losing to the Heat in the 2013 NBA Finals, the Spurs used the heartbreaking series to fuel them throughout the season. San Antonio won 62 games in the regular season and captured the top seed in the Western Conference and home-court advantage in the Finals.
But the playoff road wasn’t easy. The Dallas Mavericks took the Spurs to seven games in the first round but San Antonio prevailed. The young Portland
Trailblazers didn’t give San Antonio much of a challenge as the Spurs were able to win that series in five games.
The final team standing in the way of a return trip to the finals was the Oklahoma City Thunder, a team which kept San Antonio out of the finals in 2012. The two teams battled, trading blowout victories in the first five contests.
But Game 6 proved to be the ultimate challenge. The Thunder took San Antonio into overtime, but the Spurs emerged victorious yet again.
In the finals, the Spurs got revenge in five games. San Antonio blew out the Heat in three of its five victories and won the series in San Antonio.
The Spurs will raise their fifth NBA championship banner when the 2014-2015 season begins in October.
Erik Spoelstra pleaded with his team at halftime of game three. “Just cut it down to 15,” Spoelstra said. “We’re built to play stretches like these. We’re built for this moment.”
The head coach was right, the Heat are at their very best when they are playing relentless trap defense and relying on quick rotations.
However, the level of energy required to sustain these bursts of play obviously isn’t sustainable for 48 minutes considering the lack of depth on the Heat roster. Therein lies Miami’s Achilles heel. Unless they’re clicking offensively with Lebron and a few shooters, their defense, which ranked 11th in the NBA regular season this year, cannot compete at the highest level for a full 48 minutes.
Moreover, their tendency to rely on these short bursts of high-energy play towards the end of games has affected their mindset coming into games. It isn’t possible for the Heat, who seem to believe that they can go down by whatever margin and always come back with a ferocious burst of defense, to play such a style against the Spurs. So far these Finals, they have been unable to play at their best unless they have their backs against the wall.
But, these Spurs won’t let a team get away with such a weakness. They have forced the Heat to pay for their lackluster effort in the opening quarter of games. The Spurs’ offensive clinic seems close to unstoppable at times and it is evident that Gregg Popovich’s bunch have come on to the court with a lot more energy and tenacity. Ultimately, the confidence that comes with having won two consecutive championships and the ability to play short bursts of suffocating defense and unstoppable offensive has carried the Heat all season long. But, that same strategy might cost them a championship against the fundamental Spurs.
San Antonio Spurs center Tiago Splitter goes to the basket against the Miami Heat in the first half in Game 4 of the NBA basketball finals in Miami on Thursday. The Spurs won 107-86.
The San Antonio Spurs inched closer to a fifth NBA Championship Thursday night with a dominating 107-86 victory over the Miami Heat.
The Spurs' destruction of the Heat in Game 4 was San Antonio’s second consecutive blowout win of the series. With the win, the Spurs took a commanding 3-1 series lead. San Antonio put on a clinic in scoring distribution, as every player on the squad scored. Kawhi Leonard, who shined in Game 3, continued to dominate on both ends of the floor, leading San Antonio with 20 points and 14 rebounds, as well as having three blocks and three steals.
Tim Duncan posted yet another double-double, giving him the all-time NBA playoffs double-double record with 158, surpassing Magic Johnson.
“It's an honor,” Duncan said. “When that one more is done, I can look back and say that is truly an honor."
Much like in Game 3, the Heat was unable to find its offensive rhythm. Miami got off to a horrific start and continued to struggle to find any offensive flow throughout the game. Heat forward LeBron James, who scored 28 points, did everything he could to bring Miami back into the game, but San Antonio proved to be too good on the night.
“They smashed us. Two straight home games. Got off to awful starts,” James said. “They were much better than us. It’s that simple.”
The loss snapped Miami’s 13-game streak of wins after a playoff loss. This is also the first time in the Heat’s big-three that they have trailed 3-1 in a series.
If Miami wants to win its third consecutive NBA title, it’s going to have to make history. In 31 tries, a team that trails 3-1 has never rebounded to win the NBA Finals.
“Right now they are playing better than us,” Heat guard Dwyane Wade said. “No question about it. They whipped our butt at home.”
The Spurs will look to hoist their fifth Larry O’Brien trophy when the series moves back to San Antonio for Game 5 Sunday night.
San Antonio Spurs forward Kawhi Leonard was a non-factor in the first two games of the 2014 NBA Finals, but Leonard put his stamp on the series with a dominating performance in game three.
Leonard was aggressive all night as he worked his way to a career performance. Leonard put together the best shooting performance of his NBA career Tuesday night, shooting 10-13 from the field and finishing with 29 points, leading the Spurs to a 111-92 victory over the Miami Heat.
“(Leonard) was just himself,” San Antonio coach Gregg Popovich said. “That’s how he’s played all year long. He’s got to be one of our better players on the court or we’re not good enough, that’s just the way it is.”
While Leonard was fantastic, the Spurs team play was phenomenal. San Antonio shot a historic 25-33 in the first half, building a 20-point lead by halftime.
But Miami wasn’t ready to give up. The Heat put on a furious rally in the third quarter, led by guard Dwyane Wade, cutting the Spurs lead to seven. While Miami continued to battle, it couldn’t find a way to overcome San Antonio’s historic performance in the half. With the Heat loss, their perfect home record in the playoffs was ruined.
“They were very aggressive, and we didn’t match that,” Miami forward LeBron James said. “They came in with a desperation that we just didn’t match. Just because it’s our fourth final doesn’t mean anything. That don’t guarantee a win.”
James was sensational in game two, but was less effective in game three as San Antonio found a way to disrupt his rhythm. Once the Spurs were able to get James off his game, the rest of the Miami offense struggled.
Now Miami must focus on getting back in the series before they head back to San Antonio.
"The problem is we are down 2-1. That's the problem,” Wade said. “We have to figure out how to even it up."
The Heat will get a chance to tie it up in game four, which occurs 8 p.m. Thursday in Miami.
LeBron James pushed the Miami Heat to a 98-96 victory over the San Antonio Spurs in game two of the NBA Finals at the AT&T Center Sunday night.
After receiving plenty of criticism for leaving game one with cramps, James was dialed in for the second game, dominating the majority of the game. He finished the contest with 35 points and 10 boards.
The game was close throughout, as both teams traded the lead all night long. But, with under a minute and half remaining, Heat forward Chris Bosh hit a go-ahead 3 and Miami held on from there. Bosh finished with 18 points.
With the win, Miami improves to 6-0 Game 2 record when losing the first game of a series.
For the Spurs, Tony Parker and Tim Duncan led the team in a valiant effort. Parker scored 21 points and Duncan finished with 18 points and 15 rebounds. Duncan’s performance moved him into a tie with Magic Johnson for all-time playoff double-doubles with 157. But Duncan’s historic performance was not enough for San Antonio to get past Miami.
“We didn’t do it as a group,” Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich said. “We tried to do it individually, and we aren’t good enough to do that.”
As a team, San Antonio also sturggled mightily from the free throw line, converting just 12 of 20 attempts.
The NBA Finals now transition to Miami for the next two games. Game 3 is Tuesday at 8 p.m.
The San Antonio Spurs outlasted the Miami Heat, and the Texas heat, in the first game of the NBA Finals.
Temperatures at the AT&T Center in San Antonio rose into the nineties after an electrical failure caused the arena’s air conditioning to fail, as the Spurs knocked off the Heat, 110-95.
Despite the sweltering heat, the Spurs were able to overcome a nine point deficit in the fourth quarter. San Antonio rallied behind a 16-3 run to end the game. San Antonio was a scorching 14 of 16 from the field and a perfect 6 for 6 from beyond the arc in the fourth quarter.
Spurs forward Tim Duncan showed off his signature fundamental approach en route to a double-double. Duncan led the team to victory with 21 points and 10 rebounds.
“We are one step closer to four wins,” Duncan said.
Alongside Duncan’s masterful performance, San Antonio received solid play from Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili - the duo combined to score 35 points. Spurs guard Danny Green fueled the team’s comeback by hitting three big three-point shots in the fourth quarter.
Although the heat didn’t affect the San Antonio players, Miami forward LeBron James fell victim to cramping. James’ cramping became evident during the fourth quarter and got so bad his teammates had carry him off the court. The cramps James went through caused the Heat to lose any momentum they had and helped Spurs pull away.
“It felt like a punch in the gut when you see your leader limping to bench like that," Miami coach Erik Spoelstra said.
While the Heat lost game one, they possibility of a three-peat certainly shouldn’t be put to rest. Since 2011, Miami is 5-0 in series’ in which it loses the first game.
Spurs and NBA officials are confident that the AT&T Center’s air conditioning issue will be fixed in time for game two.
“We think it'll be fixed come Sunday and we'll be able to play under normal conditions," NBA executive Rod Thorn said.
The Spurs and Heat will play game two Sunday at the AT&T Center at 7 pm.