Roger Mason Jr. Strikes Again
Once I saw that the San Antonio Spurs were struggling with the Golden State Warriors last night, I had to flip over on League Pass to check out the closing minutes. The Spurs have been having a hard time trying to click with less than a month remaining in the season. Manu Ginobili is still sidelined by his troublesome ankle and Tim Duncan has been playing despite a gimpy knee.
The Spurs appeared to be headed for their third loss in a row -- to the lottery-bound Warriors?!? -- when Duncan got stripped and watched Kelenna Azubuike score to give his team a one-point lead with 33.9 seconds left. Tony Parker had scored 30 points and Duncan had 13 of his 21 in the fourth quarter, but guess who took the biggest shot of the game? You already know.
Former Washington Wizard Roger Mason Jr. came around a curl at the top of the key and sank the go-ahead jumper with 23.8 seconds remaining in the Spurs' 107-106 victory. It was the fifth game-deciding bucket for Mason this season, which is huge when you consider that if Mason had missed those shots the Spurs could easily be 41-29 insteadof 46-24 -- which would make them the eighth seed in the Western Conference right now.
Entering last night, they had lost four of six, including a home loss to the Houston Rockets on Sunday that bumped them from the top spot in the Southwest Division for the first time since Jan. 6. The Spurs' struggles coincided with a little slump by Mason. He had averaged just 7 points and shot 35.5 percent (11 of 31) in the four losses. Mason finished with 24 points on 10-for-16 shooting last night.
San Antonio also moved back into first place in the Southwest Division and second in the Western Conference after the Utah Jazz beat Houston, 99-86, later in the evening.
A few weeks ago, Agent Steinz asked me how much difference of a Mason would've made for the Wizards this season. I estimated that the Wizards would only be about four games better. I had no idea he would make the Spurs at least five games better (I'm not even factoring in his contributions in the absence of Ginobili, who has missed 32 games this season). Who knew that the Spurs signing Mason to a two-year, $7.3 million contract would be the difference between first place or fretting a first-round series with the Los Angeles Lakers -- at least?
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