The San Antonio Spurs have now lost ten straight games after losing to the Los Angeles Clippers on Wednesday night. The Spurs have a record of 3-12 and this was the third time this season that they lost to the Clippers. But, hey, after losing to L.A. by 40 points and 25 points, at least this one was somewhat close.
In the first quarter, the Spurs couldn’t hit the broad side of the Frost Bank Center. The Clippers entered the second quarter with a 26-14 advantage. Thankfully, the good guys battled back. San Antonio got their offense going in the second quarter and kept it rolling to begin the third quarter.
Unfortunately, after a Victor Wembanyama free throw got the Spurs within four points midway through the third quarter, the Clippers went on a 14-0 run to once again take command of the match.
In the fourth, the Spurs trailed by as many as 18 points. Instead of rolling over, San Antonio fought back one more time. The Silver and Black got within five points in the closing minutes but ended up running out of time as the Clippers won by a final count of 109-102.
Overall, the Spurs played pretty well after the first quarter … but the moral victories are getting old at this point. San Antonio can’t let the excitement of this season slip away by tumbling out of the starting gates and not fighting with all their might to get back on their feet.
Stats: Spurs vs. Clippers
Spurs vs. Clippers – Final Grades
Nice. This was a step in the right direction for Wembanyama. Against a tough, veteran squad, the rookie didn’t bail out the defense by resorting to three-point attempts and leaners. Instead, he battled for shots in the lane and played with more physicality. The result was an efficient 22 points aided by seven free throw attempts. Defensively, his rebounding was great, his rim protection got better and better, and his awareness level was impressive. All in all, Wembanyama played a clean, smart, rugged game. If he keeps playing like this, the Spurs should get back on track soon.
Johnson was actually really close to having a very strong outing. His effort on defense was really good and he played the leading role in a handful of stops. Offensively, his playmaking was good, his passing was timely and he finished without a turnover in 36 minutes. Johnson also attacked the rim very well; his power in the lane was impressive. The one flaw for him tonight was his overreliance on contested three-pointers. The Clippers closed out on him hard and Johnson didn’t take advantage enough. More drives to the cup and fewer contested jumpers would have really helped San Antonio’s cause.
The good: Sochan supercharged the fourth quarter run by scoring 12 straight points for the Spurs. With his aggression level set to max volume during that stretch, the Clippers had a difficult time containing him. Sochan also deserves credit for tallying seven assists and only one turnover while also getting to the free throw line six times. I’d classify his defense as adequate. The bad: Sochan’s court vision was really poor at times. He was also guilty of overdribbling and forcing a few shots. His ball-handling was iffy enough that it slowed down the pace for the Spurs.
Collins was fine. He rebounded well, protected the hoop and was physical in the paint. Offensively, he knocked down a pair of threes, scored with assertiveness in the paint and made a few really good passes. He also kept his turnovers in check. It should be noted, though, that he fouled out in 28 minutes of action.
Starting in place of Vassell, who was coming off of an injury, Branham laid an egg. He missed all six of his shots in 21 minutes to end up scoreless. His lack of confidence was easy to see. When he’s second-guessing himself, Branham can really struggle. Unfortunately for him, his lack of self-assuredness still rears its head from time to time in his second season in the league.
Vassell wasn’t shy about shooting the basketball in his return from injury. In 27 minutes off the bench, he got up 15 shots. While his accuracy was lacking, he was still able to provide a much-needed 18 points. I didn’t have an issue with Vassell shot-selection. I especially liked his aggressive forays to the rim. I also thought his defense and passing were better than usual. Net-net: Vassell wasn’t at his best but his effort level and vivacity were helpful.
Jones looked like he was going to be able to spark the Spurs with his hustle, tenacity and open court speed. He was giving it his all on defense and ended up with a team-high three steals. Unfortunately, a lack of shotmaking stopped Jones from making a larger impact. He had flashes but couldn’t put it all together.
After a great game on Monday, Osman couldn’t replicate that feat in the rematch. His decision-making on offense was questionable and oftentimes a beat or two slow. Defensively, his rotations weren’t on time and he too often rotated to the wrong player. Osman’s individual defense wasn’t much better.
McDermott hit a three-pointer and had a surprisingly athletic block — but that was about the extent of his positives. He turned it over three times in 14 minutes and his defense was sub par. McDermott came up gimpy at one point so hopefully he doesn’t miss any time.
Barlow got nine minutes in the real rotation. He didn’t really move the needle much but he was an active, lively body who wasn’t timid.
The reason Barlow got minutes was that Bassey was a mess from his opening moments on the court. He ended up turning it over three times in two minutes of action. Obviously, Bassey can’t have many of these flub-heavy affairs if he’s going to keep his spot in the rotation.
Pop once again brought Vassell off the bench due to him coming off of injury — and, once again, I didn’t understand the logic behind that strategy. The starting lineup missed Vassell’s offensive aggression and the bench’s usual rhythm was thrown off. The playcalling and the rest of the rotation was fine. (Regarding Pop telling fans not to boo Kawhi Leonard, I thought it was an extremely strange decision on Pop’s part. The Spurs are mired in an excruciatingly long losing streak and were in the middle of another listless performance. Pop’s lucky that the Spurs fans were awake enough and aware enough to boo Kawhi. The booing provided energy in what would have otherwise been a really quiet, lethargic environment. Fans are well within their right to boo and Kawhi richly deserves resent — even a half decade after his antics. I understand Pop was trying to play the “classy” card but his critique of Spurs fans was truly bizarre.)