Season 51, Games 15 & 16
San Antonio 86, Minnesota 98
San Antonio 104, Oklahoma City 101
10-6, 4th in the West
Despite different outcomes and wildly different energies, the last two games had a streak of similarity. In both games, the Spurs got down big, and in both games, they were able to fight their way back into it to make the game respectable.
On Wednesday in Minnesota, the schedule and the road were against them. So after clawing back into the game, they just didn’t have the juice to get over the hump. As my colleague said on Twitter, the Spurs looked like they had played the previous night in Dallas, TX.
But the process was good, and the scrap and heart in the team was commendable. While the talent isn’t all the way there (yet), this team is playing with a purpose and togetherness that is fun to watch. And it’s keeping them competitive in the West while they wait for Leonard to return.
On Friday night, back at home and rested, they were able to complete the comeback and beat the “super team” Thunder. What an awesome game. Everybody that played contributed something, making it a team win. There was no star, but Green and Anderson were steady throughout, and Aldridge brought us home in the 4th quarter.
Green was an all-around stud, disrupting the Thunder on defense (drawing the primary assignment of guarding Westbrook) and pouring in 17 points on the other end. His hot-shooting kept the team afloat in the first half.
Anderson continues to make the most of early season minutes with Leonard down. Zach Lowe mentioned him in his weekly Friday column, discussing how he has turned his (lack of) speed into his greatest weapon. It’s so hard for most NBA players to guard him because he moves at such a unique pace. With Parker out, he is probably the best or second best “point guard” on the team. Pop trusts him to run the offense, even late in close games. What a vote of confidence.
During his 3rd quarter interview, when asked what changed about his team, Pop said (paraphrasing): they went from an attitude of ‘poor me’ to one of ‘screw you’.
Screw you. I like it. Despite their reputation, ‘screw you’ isn’t an attitude we often associate with the Spurs. They are professional, proficient, efficient, and machine-like. But emotion and heart aren’t often ascribed to them as a whole.
But without Leonard (and to a lesser extent, Parker), they must rely more on togetherness, heart, and ‘screw you’ mentality to win games.
This reminds me of perhaps my favorite Pop-ism of all time: you have to participate in your own recovery.
On Wednesday and Friday night, the team did just that. While they only snuck away with a win in one of the games, both games gave us fans a lot to be proud of and a lot to look forward to.
The Spurs get the weekend off before hosting Atlanta on Monday night.
Go Spurs Go.