‘Red Mamba’ Defense Zeroes In On Z-Bo

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SAN ANTONIO — When most people think of the hard-nosed defense in a playoff series between the Grizzlies and Spurs, the images that come to mind are the steely gaze and the locked-in intensity of Tony Allen, the quick hands of Mike Conley or those long arms and smothering style of Kawhi Leonard.

Then there’s Matt Bonner.

Don’t snicker. None other than Kobe Bryant nicknamed him the Red Mamba for Bonner’s ability to fearlessly knock down big shots in big situations. But in the playoffs, Bonner has also been part boa constrictor for helping to put the squeeze on opposing big men.

In the first round, Bonner often got under the skin of Lakers center Dwight Howard with his willingness and ability to bump and grind. On Sunday in Game 1 of the Western Conference finals, Bonner played a key role in limiting Grizzlies inside force Zach Randolph to 1-for-8 shooting and just two points.

It was a team effort with Tiago Splitter, Tim Duncan and Boris Diaw all sharing the rugged duties. Bonner’s main responsibility in Game 1 was to front Randolph and try got prevent him from getting the ball in the first place. The eight shots by Z-Bo were his fewest in a game since April 15 and the single bucket scored was his career playoff low for any game in he’s played at least 10 minutes.

“We found something that works for him,” Duncan said. “He’s comfortable doing that. I think when the whole team is locked in knowing he’s going to do that, we feel pretty confident.”

The added bonus of Bonner’s defensive contribution is that it allows Spurs coach Gregg Popovich to give him more playing time and take advantage of his outside shooting ability that stretches Memphis’ defense. Bonner drilled four 3-pointers in Game 1 as the Spurs set a franchise record with 14 3-pointers.

That’s the Red Mamba showing all of his fangs.

9 Comments

  1. SPURS FAN says:

    I just love the spurs man, they play the right way. most teams spend spend spend and hope the players deliver but spurs just get players with skills in maybe one area and improve them in the other areas, it the best way to do it because you get love from your players and the big bosses love the results of there check books and that they nearly always go deep into the playoff’s meaning alot more use of there home court meaning bonus pay.

    T-Evens come to the spurs you and Kawhi Leonard could continue on the winning way in the black and sliver

    GO SPURS

  2. Big Al says:

    Coaching probably has a lot to do with how Bonner developed. He only used to be good for three-pointers, but Pop has been notorious for extracting more out of players. Matt’s defense provided such an impact to big men like Dwight and Z-Bo. To have a nickname though is quite overrated; Ray Allen is still the best downtown shooter ever.

  3. j-head says:

    Y’all are big on the Red Mamba, but have you ever seen the BLAMBA???

  4. Hunter says:

    It looks like that hard work is paying off for Bonner, the man is my hero! GO SPURS!!

  5. Willy says:

    I remember Sir Charles, one year ago, calling out Bonner to step up, if SA was gunna win anything. I think his comments were directed at someone on the bench who had to take the load a bit. Well, one year ago he didn’t really play much as I remember. Hopefully he can keep it going. Great coaching again by Pop, getting the right match ups going in your favor.

  6. hipster says:

    Sorry, it’s a Pontiac Grand Prix.

  7. hipster says:

    Don’t mess with Bonner!

    Dude drives a 1988 Ford Taurus (not the SHO version).

  8. vela bahleke says:

    ONCE*

  9. vela bahleke says:

    BONNERFIDE!!! BONNERFIDE!!! WHAT CAN YOU SAY?THATS A BONNERFIDE MAMBA INDEED!!!BACK WHEN I WAS IN AFRICA ,I OCE SAW A RED MAMBA AND I SWEAR IT HAD A BASKETBALL IN ITS FANGS!!!I WENT O HAVE A CLOSE LOOK AND IT WAS SIGNING PAPERS TO PLAY FOR THE SPURS!!!WHO THOUGHT MATT BONNER WOULD HAVE SUCH IMPACT?ONLY THE SPURS DID.NO ONE ELSE DARED USE BONNER IN THE RIGHT SPOTS.HE SHOWED GLIMPSES IN TORONTO BUT THEY DIDNT APPRECIATE HIM FULLY SO WE FOUND HIM A SPOT IN TEXAS.GO SPURS GO!!!KOBE KNOWS ONE WHEN HE SEES ONE.AFTERALL IT TAKES ONE TO NOTICE ANOTHER!!!!BONNERFIDE !!!!THATS RIGHT MATT BONNER..GO GET THAT RING.THE NEXT ROBERT HORRY!!!!YES I SAID IT..BONNER QUALIFIES FOR ” BIG SHOT RED MAMBA ” AS WELL!!!!BONNERFIDE COMPARISON IF YOU ASK ME…