NBA Life: Spurs turn their scoring machine into high gear with pair of wins
The San Antonio Spurs have been a scoring machine, ranking near the top of the NBA with a scoring average of 105 points per game, and they scored 129 points against Dallas and 134 points at Houston earlier this month. Veteran forward Matt Bonner of Concord, averaging 4.1 points per game, came off the bench to score eight points against Toronto and eight points against Dallas last week.
Sunday News: How is the team creating so many scoring chances?
Matt Bonner: Our whole goal on offense is to keep the pace and keep the pressure on the defense. When we played the Celtics (a 103-88 win), we knew if we kept pushing the ball at them, moving the ball, making them guard in transition, that eventually we'd break through and pull away. That's exactly what happened.
SN: What is your assessment of the Celtics after playing them twice and beating them twice? They don't seem to be a strong rebounding team, and they don't have the legs for the fourth quarter.
MB: I still think it's a work in progress. Long season. They do have a lot of talent. It's up to them to put everything together and get the chemistry down. I wouldn't sell them short. They've proven over the years that, come playoff time, regardless of what happened earlier in the season, they're a team nobody wants to see.
SN: When the Spurs played the Celtics, your dad received a shout-out from TV broadcaster Mike Gorman during the game. How does big Dave get so much love?
MB: That shout-out was over a year in the making. The two of us were driving to New York City during the (NBA) lockout, and we ran into Mike Gorman at a rest stop on the Mass. Pike. He's been working that angle for a while.
SN: What kind of goals did you set for yourself as a freshman in high school? Did you dare to dream big?
MB: For me, I never really dreamed huge. It was always, "What's the next big thing?" Win a state championship. Get a Division I scholarship. Graduate from college. I just knew that I'd always be working as hard as I could, giving everything I had and whatever happens, happens.
SN: What do you think of the Patriots right now?
MB: I think they can beat any team in the NFL. When you're going into the playoffs, that's really all you need as a fan, to have that hope. Just because the Patriots aren't the No. 1 seed, it doesn't mean they can't win the Super Bowl. I don't know how many teams have been wild-card playoff teams and won all four postseason games and won the Super Bowl, but it does happen. Bill Belichick is always looking to make the team better. He keeps a pretty even keel. He knows it's a process, and the team needs to be the best it can be going into the playoffs.
SN: When you see a player like Mike Napoli receiving a $13 million contract from the Red Sox after hitting .227 with 24 home runs, do you ever think maybe you should be earning more in the NBA? (Bonner's salary is $3.6 million for this season.)
MB: No. I'm very happy. To me, the minimum contract in the NBA ($473,604) is a ton of money. It's different with baseball because there is no salary cap and the big-market teams, especially New York and Boston, go out and sign guys to these outlier contracts that might not be typical of someone with those particular stats. Those guys get lucky. Every year, a few free agents in the NBA get lucky and hit a big contract. When you look at their production and numbers, some people might ask how the heck did they get paid that much? It happens in every sport. I don't sit there and get bitter that it didn't happen to me.
SN: If a player has a big contract and isn't playing well, is there resentment from other players in the NBA?
MB: I've played on two teams, and there's never been resentment for someone getting paid a lot or maybe getting paid more than their value. Like I said, it happens in every sport. Contracts don't make a difference. We have a guy like Gary Neal, who is basically on a minimum contract. He goes out and gets buckets every night, knowing he's trying to help us win and working toward that next contract. Guys just want to win and try to get the best deal they can when they're a free agent. There is zero resentment toward what anyone else has gotten.
SN: Do players feel extra pressure to produce after signing a mega-deal? Look at the case of Carl Crawford with the Red Sox and how that worked out.
MB: Pressure comes with the profession. There's always pressure from 1,000 different angles at all times. That's where perspective comes in. You have to understand that no matter how bad you think things have gotten, you're playing a game for your job. There are more important things in the world. Always keep that perspective. Don't let your profession define you as a person. That can be hard to do, but those who can learn that will have a happier career.
Matt Bonner discusses The NBA Life each week with radio broadcaster Chris Ryan and New Hampshire Union Leader reporter Kevin Gray, and the interview appears weekly in the N.H. Sunday News.