Season 51, Game 43
San Antonio 81, Los Angeles Lakers 93
28-15, 3rd in the West
Lost, desperate, and panicked are usually the last three words you’d use to describe a Gregg Popovich-coached basketball team. But last night in Los Angeles, those are the only three words that described his short-handed Spurs.
San Antonio – missing its perennial MVP candidate Kawhi Leonard, as well as Danny Green, Rudy Gay, and Tony Parker – was completely out of sync for large stretches of the game. Miscues led to bad passes, turnovers, and easy fast-break points for the opportunistic Lakers. The Spurs constantly found themselves with double-digit deficits, and while they briefly took the lead in the third quarter, San Antonio dug itself right back into a hole, losing 81-93.
Season 51, Game 42
San Antonio 107, Sacramento 100
28-14, 4th in the West
4 high-end rotation players did not play.
3/5ths of the starting lineup combined for a mere 10 points.
The Spurs have mastered the “one hand tied behind the back” game this season, so Monday’s result in Sacramento after a dispiriting loss in Portland the night before shouldn’t be surprising.
LaMarcus Aldridge was a stud, yet again. 31 points and 12 rebounds only tells part of the story. He was an absolute monster on the floor, sprinting from end to end on every change of possession. His jumper was locked in. But more importantly, he ran himself into at least 10 easy points, getting baskets in transition off missed layups and offensive rebounds. He was easily the best player on the floor.
Not far behind him, though, was Davis Bertans.
Season 51, Game 41
San Antonio 110, Portland 111
27-14, 3rd in the West
The Spurs fell in splendid fashion to the Portland Trailblazers on Sunday night after CJ McCollum tossed in some junk in the final seconds of a back and forth game. The 1-point loss to the Spurs was a perfect ending to a fairly entertaining game in which the Spurs could have probably used one more possession.
The Spurs led in pretty much every category. They had more rebounds, both offensive and defensive, had more assists, shot better from the line, shot better from the arc, and committed less fouls. Unfortunately, they also had more turnovers. Late game heroics by Manu Ginobili, who has been nothing short of inspiring, as well as the continued dominance of LaMarcus Aldridge, was once again overshadowed by a chaotic whirlwind in the backcourt. Kawhi Leonard aside, this team is vastly different, sans Tony Parker.
Season 51, Game 40
San Antonio 103, Phoenix 89
27-13, 3rd in the West
Welcome to the 2017-2018 NBA season, Kawhi Leonard.
Yes, this is a bit dramatic. But not that dramatic. And considering the mystery surrounding Kawhi’s absence and how long he has been absent (relative to, say, a 35-year old PG who ruptured his quad tendon a few months ago), one might successfully argue not dramatic at all.
Against the Phoenix Suns, in Game 40 of the season, Kawhi Leonard finally looked like Kawhi Leonard. Or at least a recognizable approximation.
Season 51, Game 39
San Antonio 106, Philadelphia 112
26-13, 3rd in the West
All in all, that actually wasn’t a bad game.
Granted, the Spurs’ defense looked porous at best, allowing the Sixers’ offense to look like the 2014 Spurs out there. Every back cut Philadelphia made was met with little to no resistance, leading to a dunk or layup. Nor could they secure a defensive rebound to save their lives. (Or, more accurately, to win the game.) And they did send the Sixers to the free throw line an absurd 43 times–only four of which were intentional.
On the other end of the court, the Spurs looked out of sorts for large chunks of the game. And it appeared that the Sixers were in possession of the Spurs’ playbook, seeming to know every cut, pass, and move before the Spurs even made it. The usual clever plays by the Spurs were completely swallowed up, usually leading to turnovers.
Putting all of that aside, though, it was a pretty good game for the Spurs.