San Antonio Spurs: Rodeo Road Trip Report Card and Stretch-Run Outlook

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San Antonio Spurs: Rodeo Road Trip Report Card and Stretch-Run Outlook
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

The San Antonio Spurs are supposed to ride plows and tractors to the finish line like patient farmers tending uncooperative soil and stubborn crops that refuse to grow. Gregg Popovich paces his plodding, methodical squad until February, when cowboys and livestock serve the Spurs a rude, three-week eviction notice. The NBA club sporting silver and black then shakes off the rust and remembers how to win at a championship level again.

The Spurs have finished with a losing record in the second half of the season just twice in the Tim Duncan era. They grind it out, muck it up and put more people to sleep than NyQuil.

So, inquiring minds want to know, who brought the jet packs, Showtime-esque emphasis on fast-breaking and caffeinated jolts to town? The franchise known for January slumps and a tempo that makes molasses look like it travels at the speed of light remains on a 68-win pace. The last time a San Antonio outfit scored like this, with such a startling wins-losses ratio, some guy with the name "Gervin" on the back of his Spurs jersey finished finger-rolls and acrobatic lay-ups.

Flattening the rest of the NBA like a steamroller, the 2010-2011 edition has given new meaning to the phrase former PA announcer Stan Kelly made popular, "Here come the Spurs."

Analysts who watch a mere handful of San Antonio games each season have always taken the cliches to the extreme. Insert your favorite one here.

The Spurs never coasted on purpose, nor did GM R.C. Buford suddenly acquire athletic employees who know how to score in transition. Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili have been doing that in breathtaking fashion since each entered the NBA. A confluence of factors, though, has allowed the Spurs to erupt on a 46-10 tear fit for the history books.

When San Antonio embarked on its nine game Rodeo Road Trip, some wondered if the extended sojourn might give the Dallas Mavericks and L.A. Lakers a chance to overtake South Texas' juggernaut. Instead, the Spurs emerged with a 6-3 mark and a grip on the league's best record as firm as when they boarded a plane at San Antonio International Airport three weeks ago.

So much for that.

Even after Thursday's 109-99 loss in Chicago, the Spurs line the NBA's observation deck, looking down on the 29 other franchises. When Derrick Rose drops 42 points and his teammates deliver a thunderstorm of difficult jumpers and drives, can anybody topple the Bulls? Chicago owns the league's second best home mark, so a defeat at the United Center should not cause opposing fans to surrender hours of sleep.

The team with the best home mark? The Spurs, with just two blemishes on their AT&T Center resume, host the Oklahoma City Thunder next Wednesday in their first post All-Star break action.

Which players earned the highest marks on the mythologized trek? What grade did the defense Gregg Popovich demands merit? Do the Spurs get an A+ for health? Can they procure home-court advantage throughout the playoffs?

Keep reading to discover one writer's answers.

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