Rusty Spurs don’t look to figure into wild West shootout

At the halfway point of the NBA season, several intriguing storylines have emerged from the league.

Washington Wizards guard Gilbert Arenas made headlines when he gave teammate Javaris Crittenton a choice of three unlicensed handguns to shoot Arenas with after the two got into a heated altercation over a gambling debt.

Allen Iverson, who at one point this season was retired, will make his 11th consecutive start in the All-Star Game despite only playing in 21 games this year and averaging a meager 14.3 points per game. Yes, you read that correctly.

But the story that no one seems to be talking about is happening right here in the Lone Star State.

Anyone who has been watching the San Antonio Spurs play this season has witnessed a depressing sight: the Spurs’ dynasty has come to an end.

Although San Antonio ended the weekend at 5th place in the Western Conference, it’s clear to see when watching them play that the team has lost a step or two from years past and struggles to compete against the elite teams in the league.

On Wednesday, the Spurs hosted the Utah Jazz who, like San Antonio, are a perennial playoff contender.

The Jazz made the Spurs look like a college team; they played faster and more efficiently, and although the Jazz won 105-98, the game was never as close as the final score indicated.

Tim Duncan finished with 14 points on 5-15 shooting and fouled out of the game — the first time that has happened this year.

Then on Friday, the Spurs dropped another game to the visiting Rockets, 116-109.

As had happened against the Jazz, the Spurs were outplayed by a younger, quicker team.

The Spurs have arguably been the best team in the NBA over the past decade, and Duncan has been the driving force on a team that has won four NBA titles since 1999.

Anyone who has devoutly followed Duncan throughout his career has seen that, like the rest of us, he’s just getting old.

Duncan can’t jump the way he used to, doesn’t finish strong at the rim anymore and has to rely too much on his basketball savvy to beat more athletic players.

While no team other than the Los Angeles Lakers has asserted itself as a true title contender (the Celtics have no bench, the Cavaliers have no coach and the cowardly Nuggets have no heart), the Spurs have been lacking the quality play necessary to make a championship run.

The wild West may be wide open for the first time in over a decade, but the Spurs are going to need to jump into the rejuvenation machine in order to have a shot at reaching the finals.

At this point, Duncan’s status as the greatest power forward in the history of the league is secure; nothing will change that.

It would be nice to see Duncan ride off into the sunset with championship No. 5, a la David Robinson, but Spurs fans need to realize that their team’s great run is probably over.

Happy trails, San Antonio.

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