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Slop City

By Jeff Koch on December 16, 2013.

San Antonio 92, Los Angeles Clipper 115

My frustration watching this game was probably inversely proportional to its importance in the season writ large. There will always be games like this, where the team is just sloppy, playing with tired legs, and seem to be a beat or two slow all night. They’ll keep the game close enough to provide some hope, but never get over that proverbial hump. Every time it starts to get interesting, the other team will make a run. The Clippers made one final big push to make the final score a bit deceiving. Still, they won this game convincingly, the Spurs lost it convincingly, and the world goes on spinning.

As soon as the game was over, I turned it off and watched an episode of “Friday Night Lights”. Have you seen that show? You really should watch it.

A few thoughts from tonight’s game:

–The big story line of the night will be the Spurs 22 TOs. And they were the bad turnovers, the kind that lead to lob dunks and transition 3s and get a team like the Clippers (a ‘downhill’ team if ever there were one) swarming. The Clippers scored 37 points off of those 22 TOs. That’s not good. Another interesting wrinkle to the TO stat line is that every single player that played had at least one turnover. That tells me that the team was really out of sync and probably tired. This jives with the eye test: the Spurs were just a smidge off in every facet of the game, particularly as the game wore on.

–I thought Parker looked particularly out of sync. He usually relishes going against Chris Paul (and usually eats his lunch), but he just had no zip tonight. As Parker goes, so goes our offense for the most part. I hope the injury isn’t too serious; it probably isn’t, though I wouldn’t be surprised to see hims sit out a few games.

–I did like Kawhi guarding Chris Paul, which we saw quite a bit of. Leonard just completely bottled up Paul, and by extension, the Clippers’ entire offense. Once Leonard went to the bench, Paul immediately went off, hitting 3 straight jumpers. It’s no coincidence that the first quarter was the Spurs’ only good quarter, and that our defense was stellar to begin. The Clippers were getting nothing, and we were keeping them out of the paint and off the 3-point line. If you want to look to one positive in this game, look at the first 12 minutes.

–I like Jeff Ayres (great name; it’s nice to root for somebody with your name, it’s fun to cheer for yourself), and his defense and rebounding and overall effort and energy are outstanding. But man, does he have hands of stone. (I saw a few tweets mention the same phrase, but I swear it was in my head before the tweets.) We had a player like that on our Ultimate Frisbee team in college (even nicknamed him Stone Hands), and it could be so frustrating to watch so many throws just clang off of his hands. I’m starting to get that same feeling with Ayres. This offense is predicated on ball movement and every player being able to catch and pass at a high level. So many promising possessions end in the hands of Ayres (more correctly, through the hands of Ayres). I know this is testing ground time, but I would love to see Baynes get some more burn in real game action. He has proven to be quite nimble in the offense, and is a huge wall and bruiser on the defensive end.

–There’s a tipping point where Danny Green’s offense can no longer be justified by his defense. He passed that point tonight in the 2nd quarter with two terrible TOs. Oi. It is frightening to watch him even dribble sometimes. Green is who he is, and he is a valuable piece to this team. But I wonder if there will come a point where Pop will tinker with the rotation on a more permanent basis.

–The second unit really stunk it up tonight in the 2nd quarter. This is usually when the team builds and extends leads. Instead, we gave up a 19-0 run and lost all footing in the game. Manu was particularly bad with the ball (though shot excellently tonight), and the second unit just lacked the normal life it has. This is why rotations shorten in the playoffs and relying on a deep bench can be fool’s gold in the regular season.

–That might have been the longest 3rd quarter I’ve ever watched. There was just no rhythm to this game and, for the most part, wasn’t really enjoyable to watch, regardless of rooting interest.

The Spurs are in Phoenix Wednesday night before playing in Oakland Thursday night. Man, this schedule. Surely it will relent at some point.

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