Season 51, Game 33
San Antonio 89, Utah 100
22-11, 3rd in the West
Kawhi Leonard isn’t back yet.
Yes, he played more minutes Thursday night (20) than he had in any of his other three appearances this season, but he still doesn’t look like he did last season, or for that matter, any other season he’s played in the NBA.
Oddly enough, Greg Anthony commented on a shot block by Kawhi, and several of his scores (10 points on 4-of-8 shooting), as if he were playing at the same level he was last season, before Zaza Pachulia’s dirty foul in the Spurs-Warriors series.
Perhaps Greg Anthony’s powers of observation are suspect? At one point he said that the Spurs are “long in the tooth.” This was when Joe Johnson was on the court for Utah and Dejounte Murray, Bryn Forbes and Kyle Anderson were on the court for San Antonio.
But I digress…
The Spurs were never really in this game. They led for a total of 31 seconds during the first quarter.
Rodney Hood scored the first bucket of the game and went on to lead all scorers with 29 points.
This has been a breakout season for Hood. At least one sports writer thinks Hood can effectively replace Gordon Hayward and even be an upgrade on the defensive end.
I doubt that. And if I were Quin Snyder, I would doubt that, too.
And yet, Hood scored easily against the Spurs, shooting 9-of-14 from inside the arc. (He was a less impressive 3-of-10 from behind the three point line.)
Ricky Rubio, Joe Johnson, and Thabo Sefolosha also played well. (When did these guys start playing for Utah?! Forgive me for not following the Jazz as closely as the Spurs.)
Speaking of Rubio, when he entered the league in 2011, I thought he might be one of the better playmakers we’d seen come out of Europe. I thought his offensive game would have developed more, though, after six seasons in the NBA. Tonight he had 11 rebounds and 7 assists, but looked hapless when trying to create offense for himself.
The Spurs are now 1-3 with Kawhi back in the lineup. That’s disappointing, but understandable, given that his minutes have come at the expense of minutes for players like Forbes and Rudy Gay. Moving forward, I hope Pop figures out how to get more out of everyone, not just Leonard.
I’m truly amazed that the Spurs have done so well without Kawhi this season, but they’ll need him playing at 100% if they’re going to make a serious run at the Warriors and Rockets in the playoffs.
April will be here sooner than we think.
Go Spurs Go.