Well, that didn’t go as planned. The San Antonio Spurs entered their contest against the Brooklyn Nets with hopes of winning their second straight game. Instead, the Spurs were blown out of the gym from the opening quarter. The loss dropped the Spurs to 26-35, while the Nets improved to 28-34 with the victory.
San Antonio was terrible on offense out of the gates. No one wanted to shoot from the outside and that resulted in a complete mess. The defense was probably even worse. The Spurs started small — really small — and the Nets wasted little time taking advantage of that. By the end of the first quarter, the Nets already had a commanding 41-22 lead.
Things didn’t get much better in the second quarter. At the 4:41 mark, Brooklyn went ahead 71-38. San Antonio did just enough to make it more respectable at halftime, as the Spurs went into intermission trailing 75-54.
The Spurs got within 16 points a couple times in the third quarter — but they were never able to mount a sustained run. Trailing 120-95 going into the fourth, the final stanza was 12 minutes of garbage time.
Very disappointing loss, it must be said. The Spurs came out flat, never really competed and never had a chance. The Nets were focused after losing their previous game by 39 points. The Spurs? Well, they were playing like they had their minds on April vacations in Cancun.
Spurs at Nets – Final Grades
Statistically, it appears as if DeMar DeRozan had a great game. The truth, though, isn’t as pretty. While DeRozan’s final numbers are aesthetically pleasing, there are two problems. First of all, DeRozan was quiet in the first quarter. Considering that’s when the Nets essentially ended the competitive portion of the game, DeRozan putting up stats in the next two quarters doesn’t hold much meaning. Secondly, DeRozan’s poor defense and lack of physicality don’t show up in the numbers. He started the game at power forward and his lack of effort on D made the whole house of cards collapse on the defensive end.
With the Nets on fire on offense, the Spurs simply couldn’t keep pace. The main reason for San Antonio’s sporadic play on the offensive end was Murray. He looked uncomfortable taking shots, his form was wonky and eventually he started hesitating even when he was wide, wide open. The Spurs can survive DeRozan passing up wide open shots but Murray joining him in being gun shy kills the offense. Defensively, Murray was another Spurs player who was sub par.
Derrick White started next to Murray! Finally! Unfortunately, this much-anticipated pairing was a total disaster. With DeRozan and Murray shooting blanks, the spacing was a problem. But instead of helping to create space, White joined DeRozan and Murray in their first quarter struggles. He too missed easy shots, started hesitating and actively made matters worse. Eventually, White got going on offense (and defense, for that matter) but that came long after the game was over.
When it comes to culprits for the Nets posting 139 points (and, more damning, 120 point through three quarters), Bryn Forbes is definitely high on that list. Forbes, who started as small forward, was eviscerated early and often by Brooklyn. They purposely sought him out and just powered right through him or shot right over him. Nothing he did on offense came close to counterbalancing his horrendous defense.
Trey Lyles scored 19 points on 5-for-7 shooting from three-point land. His three-point stroke looked really good and he didn’t hesitate to let it fly. The rest of his evening wasn’t very good. His shot-selection on two-pointers was unwise, his defense wasn’t aggressive enough (“soft” wouldn’t be an unfair word) and he wasn’t of much help on the boards.
While it’s a low bar, Rudy Gay was easily above average tonight. He was moving well, he created shots from himself and dished off a few nice passes. When the Spurs looked competent on the offensive end, more often than not Gay was on the court. Defensively, he was one of the few players wearing the black uniform to give notable effort.
For the second straight game, Keldon Johnson looked really good. His ability to drive the lane, have bodies bounce off of him and then finish in the rim looks like a transferable ability of his at the NBA level. That’s really good news for his future. Strong finishers are a value commodity in this league, especially if his three-point shooting is legit. Speaking of his threes, while his form is a bit strange, it doesn’t take much effort for him to let it fly and his attempts from three-point range in the last two games have looked good. Along with his 13 points, Johnson was also helpful on the boards, tried hard on defense and ran the court with purpose both ways.
Patty Mills came charging out of the gates with a lot of electricity. He was making things happen on both ends of the court. However, once it was obvious that the Spurs weren’t going to be making a comeback, Mills’ electricity started to peter out. But, really, it’s tough to blame him too much for that.
Lonnie Walker IV
Lonnie Walker IV ended up leaving the game with some sort of shin or calf injury. The Spurs are calling it a contusion, which would be good news but remember that they called Jakob Poeltl’s injury a contusion and he ended up having sprained knee ligaments. Before leaving the game, Walker wasn’t good. His forays to the rim lacked any amount of physicality. He missed open jumpers. He wasn’t pushing the pace as fast as he normally does. Defensively, Walker had a couple hustle plays but, other than that, he was subdued on that end as well.
Drew Eubanks played the entire fourth quarter of garbage time; only a couple of his minutes were real minutes. Overall, he looks like a young, raw big with a lot to learn. He doesn’t have much technical ability or savviness — but his jumper looks pretty good, he can jump pretty high and he’s a pretty big dude.
Luka Samanic made his NBA debut tonight in garbage time. He was a willing passer and has good court vision for a big. Watching him move, he’s light on his feet even compared to other NBA players, which is a good sign. Samanic’s three-point stroke looks fine and the speed he can release it is impressive. But, yeah, he did nothing tonight to suggest he’s ready for the bright lights of the NBA. He has a lot to learn on defense and his offense remains a set of hypothetical tools rather than a useful repertoire.
I didn’t see anything from Quinndary Weatherspoon to suggest he’s an NBA athlete. He’s smallish and doesn’t have the greatest of footspeed. Then again, he was playing it garbage time so we shouldn’t draw any conclusions.
I liked Pop starting Murray and White together. Starting Lyles at center and DeRozan at power forward was understandable. However, Forbes at small forward is just not going to work. Pop quickly went away from the Murray and White pairing — and I can’t even blame him. It blew up in the team’s collective face. Beyond that, the Spurs didn’t look too prepared or motivated. I also would have liked more of Johnson during the few competitive moments of the game.
Up Next for the Spurs
The Spurs complete this three-game road trip on Sunday in Cleveland against the Cavaliers. While San Antonio’s playoff hopes are already being read their last rites, it’ll be time to lower the coffin into the ground if the Spurs get beat by the Cavs (again).