When the news broke that four of the five San Antonio starters were getting the night off, fantasy owners of Tim Duncan and Tony Parker were disappointed, and it really hurt to get a zero from Manu Ginobili after his 20-point explosion the night before.
Appearing to concede a game on national TV is unusual optics, and Commissioner Stern promised “substantial sanctions” before they even started to play. Get the whole story from our Chris Bernucca. Gregg Popovich and his makeshift lineup almost pulled off the gigantic upset. Nando De Colo scored 15 points; the 25-year-old French rookie added 6 rebounds and 5 assists — not bad against a future Hall of Famer like Dwyane Wade (19 PTS, 5 REB, 5 AST) in the first start of your NBA career. Matt Bonner had a double-double (10 & 10) in a rare start and much-improved Tiago Splitter (18 PTS, 9 REB) gave Chris Bosh (18 PTS, 12 REB) a good battle.
Gary Neal — who had been starting — came off the bench for 20, and the Spurs made Miami dig deep for a narrow victory. LeBron James (23 PTS, 9 REB, 7 AST, 4 STL) was great and Ray Allen (20) hit a late, clutch 3-pointer to seal the deal.
Also on Thursday
DEN @ GSW: Using defensively-challenged David Lee at C keeps working for Golden State. Lee scored 31 points on 13-of-15 shooting, adding 9 boards and 6 assists, to spark the exciting win. An apparent buzzer-beater by Andre Iguodala (22 PTS, 4 REB, 4 AST, 3 STL) was ruled a fraction of a second too late.
Ty Lawson (17 PTS, 9 AST, 4 REB, 4 STL) and Danilo Gallinari (20 PTS, 9 REB) also played well for the Nuggets, but for once the second unit let them down. Backup PG Andre Miller had just two points in 19 minutes; his counterpart Jarrett Jack (18 PTS, 5 AST) won that battle all night. You can look at the video, or just check out the Popcorn Machine game flow for a different kind of visual evidence . Stephen Curry had a double-double (20 PTS, 10 AST) and while Klay Thompson missed five of six from 3-point range, he still scored 21 and grabbed nine boards.
Before we preview tonight’s NBA action, let me challenge the high-rollers among you to a special tournament tonight at FanDuel. It’s a $25 entry fee, limited to just 46 teams, and the winner gets $1,000 cash! Try to beat Chris Sheridan and take down the prize. There are other great contests in every price range, including a qualifying event for the $150,000 DFBBC final. All the details are in my FanDuel Diary.