The San Antonio Spurs (33-36) lost to the Brooklyn Nets (46-24) on Wednesday night by a final score of 128-116. The score doesn’t really tell the true tale of how easy this win was for the Nets. The Spurs kept things reasonably close but whenever the good guys got too close, the Nets would step on the gas for a couple minutes to fatten their lead once more.
Overall, San Antonio just didn’t play well enough to compete in this road game. They had too many subpar performances against a team that oozes talent and was led by Kevin Durant and James Harden on this night. The good news is that the Spurs spot in the play-in tournament is secure. It’s not officially yet — but it appears to be only a matter of time.
With six and a half minutes remaining until halftime, the Spurs trimmed a 15-point deficit at the end of the first period down to a single point, 41-40. Unfortunately, the Nets immediately responded with a 14-6 run and the Spurs never truly threatened again.
While the Spurs had 22 more shot attempts than the Nets, Brooklyn negated that advantage by shooting 60.8% from the field.
Spurs at Nets: Final Grades
Murray had a really bad first quarter. He called his own number way too often and finished the quarter with nine shot attempts and no assists. His lack of playmaking directly led to the Spurs as a team finishing the first without a single assist. Eventually, Murray struck a much better balance but he set a miserly tone the Spurs never were able to shake.
Offensively, DeRozan played well. His craftiness and toughness were on full display, as was his passing. He was also 2-for-3 shooting with his toes on the three-point line. Defensively, though, he was just so bad it’s difficult to type into words. From lazy transition defense to slow rotations to defending the perimeter with cement boots, DeRozan couldn’t have been much worse on defense if he tried.
The good: Poeltl was a beast on the offensive glass. Defensively, the few times the Spurs looked competent, it almost always featured Poeltl playing a pivotal role. The bad: Poeltl was a liability on offense even though the Nets weren’t paying much attention to him.
Lonnie Walker IV
The quality was there, Walker was just lacking the quantity. I liked his three-point attempts and he made a few great passes off the dribble. His speed in the open court breathed life into an otherwise sluggish squad. More aggression on offense would have been great. Defensively, he had more bad moments than good moments — but the effort looked to be there.
Like Murray, Johnson set a poor tone in the first quarter. Instead of seeing the whole floor, he decided to pilot a handful of kamikaze missions. The results weren’t pretty. When it came to running the court hard and crashing the board, he was also lacking. The lone bright spot: Johnson defended Durant well. He picked him up early and was able to body the former MVP without picking up cheap fouls.
It was a night to forget for Vassell. He was rushing his shot a little bit and then lost confidence in it altogether. Defensively, he was all over the map with sporadic lowlights and highlights.
After his strong game against the Milwaukee Bucks, it was good to see Mills back it up with another strong showing on the offensive end. This was actually the first time since January that he scored at least 15 points in consecutive games. Hopefully it’s a sign that he’s emerging from hibernation.
Gay didn’t shoot well but I didn’t have a problem with his shot-selection. Defensively, I was also satisfied with his performance, all things considered. His hands were active, even when his feet were slow.
With so much switching and rotating going on, it was a noticeable dropoff when Eubanks was in the game instead of Poeltl. While the Austrian is really skilled at those aspects of defense, the Oregonian is still a work in progress.
Dieng was the player who kept the Spurs afloat after Pop waved the white flag early in the fourth quarter. While San Antonio never got closer than 11 points in the fourth, Dieng’s defense, rebounding, passing and finishing made the Nets sweat a couple extra drops. He’s still making mistakes scheme-wise but he’s obviously a talented basketball player.
When Bates-Diop turns up the volume on his forcefulness, his length and basketball IQ prove to be an impressive combination. Tonight, he was more demonstrative — and the results were positive on both ends.
Jones ran the team well, got the team into their sets swiftly and authored heady passes. His defense was also impressive. That said, there were some worrisome moments for Jones. Passing up wide open three-pointers isn’t going to work in today’s league. Missing a three-foot floater instead of taking an open layup is also suboptimal, to put it kindly.
Harden swiped at the ball but hit Samanic’s hand instead. It appeared as if Samanic suffered some type of injury to his hand or wrist and left the game in a lot of pain. Hopefully it’s nothing too serious.
I don’t like that Murray and DeRozan played so many minutes in a game that wasn’t all that competitive — especially because they weren’t even playing that well. Conversely, Walker should have played more minutes. With the Spurs struggling to create and spread the floor, leaning on Walker made sense … but didn’t happen.
The Spurs play a back-to-back against the New York Knicks. The Knicks need a win to have hope of hosting a first round series in the playoffs. Even though the Spurs smashed the Knicks earlier in this season, this promises to be another tough one.