NBA: San Antonio Spurs Not Over the Hill Yet

Brian RubinContributor IIApril 3, 2011

SAN ANTONIO - MAY 09:  Tim Duncan #21 and the San Antonio Spurs huddle in Game Four of the Western Conference Semifinals during the 2010 NBA Playoffs at AT&T Center on May 9, 2010 in San Antonio, Texas. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

It is finally over.

The worst losing streak in 14 seasons for the Spurs ended Sunday afternoon against the Phoenix Suns, with a 114-97 victory at home. Much a credit to Spurs' bench player George Hill, who had 24 pts in the first half alone.  

This was a statement game that the Spurs desperately needed.  

Without a healthy Ginobili, the Suns were able to sweep the Spurs in a 4-0 rout of a series in the second round of the playoffs last year.  

Not this year; and especially not if the Spurs play the way they did in this game.

Another message sent was that the Spurs are a deep team.  

Only one starter reached double digits in scoring: Richard Jefferson with 12 points. However, the bench, led by George Hill with 29 points, outscored the Spurs' starters 73 to 41 and helped the Spurs get 70 points by halftime.  

While the last six games had seen the Spurs failing at the three point line, today they made up for it, going 14 for 27 from the three.  

The shots were open, the spacing on the court was great, but most importantly, the shots went down.  

The bench has been crucial for the Spurs all season, and has arguably made this Spurs team the deepest they have ever beeneven in championship years. 

What makes the Spurs' bench go? Home court. 

Yet another reason why the Spurs desperately need the top seed going into the playoffs.  

While the Spurs' three musketeers, Duncan, Ginobili, and Parker, have proven to be solid both at home and on the road, the bench players such as George Hill, Gary Neal, and DeJuan Blair all play better at home; they feed off the home crowd's energy.  

What's next for the Spurs?

In the next 10 days, the Spurs will have five more games.  While the six game losing streak was against teams all over the .500 mark, only two of the remaining five teams are winning more games than losing.  

One of those teams is Atlanta, who the Spurs play next.  

The other, the currently second place Los Angeles Lakers, who are now only two games back from the Spurs.  

On April 12, the Spurs will travel to the Staples Center to play their second to last game of the season; one that could determine seeding and home court in the playoffs.  A game that could dramatically crush the odds of the Spurs' dethroning the two time defending Lakers.  

A potential No. 1 vs. No. 2 showdown to end the season.

A rivalry between the two teams that have nine of the last 12 NBA championship rings.  

And a game that could mean the the confidence to state what the Spurs would like say to the Lakers and the rest of the league:

We are back.