The homestand from hell had a rather appropriate ending. After a handful of disappointing losses, the San Antonio Spurs got blown out by the Cleveland Cavaliers by a final score of 125-101 in a defeat that can only be described as embarrassing. The Cavs, who entered the game as major underdogs after losing their previous five games, handily dismantled the listless Spurs.
San Antonio’s feeble effort was even more embarrassing than the unexpected result. The Spurs basically disintegrated the moment they experienced turbulence and they never cared enough to try to force their way back into it.
After Keldon Johnson scored to tie the game with ten minutes remaining before halftime, the Cavaliers went on a 12-2 run to take a double-digit lead. And …. that was it. The Spurs never put up a fight following that second quarter run.
Back on March 19th, the Spurs beat the Cavs to improve to 22-16 on the season. Unless San Antonio rights the ship, that could end up being the high water mark of the season. After tonight’s uninspiring loss, the Spurs are 24-24 and are now staring at what is essentially an eight-game road trip.
Spurs vs. Cavaliers: Final Grades
With Dejounte Murray sidelined with what the team is calling minor foot soreness, White got the start at point guard. The good: The fiesta jerseys are legitimately awesome. I hope we see them in future season. The bad: White was terrible in all phases. His on-ball defense was bad. His off-ball defense was worse; he got beat backdoor a handful of times. Offensively, he not only shot poorly, he ran the team poorly and his lack of confidence doomed everything the Spurs tried to do. He was second-guessing everything, which ruined the team’s offensive rhythm. This is the second time White started in place of Murray at point guard and it’s his second epic failure.
The good: DeRozan getting to the free throw line was just about the only positive thing the Spurs had going. The bad: DeRozan played horrendous defense once again. His unawareness, slowness of the perimeter and lack of fight are the unholy trinity of his defensive ineptitude. Offensively, other than his trips to the line, DeRozan wasn’t that gleeful. When he wasn’t playing bad defense, he could usually be found pouting somewhere on the court.
The good: Johnson rebounded with vigor. He pushed the pace to produce clean looks. When the Spurs exhibited a willingness to scratch and claw, it was almost exclusively Johnson’s talons. The bad: His defense wasn’t that good, particularly out on the perimeter. His outside shots were wonky. Johnson had too many kamikaze drives that careened straight into the dirt, with his ego being the only casualty.
I thought this was a deceptively poor performance from Poeltl. He was going through the motions convincingly at times, however if you looked just below the surfacing, it was apparent that Poeltl was mostly loafing on defense. No hard closeouts, no enthusiastic defending of the rim … not much tangible at all, really. On offense, he had a few moments but he was more often in the way than anything.
Samanic got the start due to Murray’s absence. Tragically, his evening was derailed by early and persistent foul trouble. It’s a shame, too, because Samanic was showing some positive signs. His passing looked really good, as evidenced by his five assists. While he couldn’t hit a shot from north of Loop 1604, he looked good when going toward the rim. Rebounding was another area of strength. Defensively, he had some really good possessions … but, ultimately, his night was ruined by unbrainy fouls.
If you look at Gay’s stats, you’d think he had a whale of a ballgame. His 3-for-5 three-point shooting was especially merry considering that the non-Gay shooters were a cumulative 2-for-23 from distance. But the picture those numbers fail to paint is just how bad Gay was on defense and how that harpooned his value. He was slower than a toeltl out on the perimeter and flaccid in the paint. When Gay entered the game, the Cavs took that as an open invitation to score whenever and however they wanted.
Mills’ took Gay’s performance one step further in the wrong direction by also being inept on the offensive end. Truth be told, Mills efforted on defense — but he was almost equally as accommodating as Gay was on that end.
Before the commencement of basuraball, Vassell was nothing to brag about. His defense was reliably a step late and he didn’t do much of note on the offensive end. He missed a couple shots that theoretically could have swung the moment, which hurt.
Dieng returned from a shoulder injury he suffered in his Spurs debut. He nailed a three-pointer on one of his first touches, which was cool to see. He also had a couple of positive defensive plays where he illustrated good instincts. That said, Dieng’s defense was largely ineffective and I’m not sure if he knew he was allowed to jump for rebounds. Obviously, it’ll take him some time to get into game shape and be his best. There were signs of how Dieng can help … but those signs were more theoretical than actual against the Cavs.
Jones got a few minutes of real playing time. He played some okay defense but that stint’s most notable play was a pick-six turnover he authored on a bad pass.
It definitely takes some coaching for an egg this large to emerge from a normal-sized cloaca. The Spurs had no fighting spirit and inexplicably looked disinterested. A basketball coach can’t dodge blame when his or her team displays such characteristics. I did like that Pop started Samanic. That was fun.
Yikes, well, yeah. The Spurs play the Nuggets twice in Denver. Hopefully with this hellish homestand behind them, San Antonio can get back to thriving on the road like they are wont to do in this whacky, up-is-down season.