Well, so much for momentum. A game after dominating Kawhi Leonard and the Los Angeles Clippers, the San Antonio Spurs got steamrolled by the Detroit Pistons, 132-98. The loss dropped the Spurs to 7-14, while the Pistons improved to 7-13.
Detroit scored the first eight points of the game but the Spurs came back and stayed in the game in the first half. San Antonio trailed by five points after the first quarter and were behind by eight points at halftime.
The third quarter was the end of the game for the good guys. They got outscored 37-20 for the period and then garbage time ensued.
The Spurs were without LaMarcus Aldridge and they didn’t shoot straight from three-point range — but those aren’t sufficient excuses. They were listless much of the night, rarely exhibited any competitive spirit and overall they got handily outplayed by a Pistons squad that had been struggling. Bad look.
Spurs at Pistons – Final Trades
DeMar DeRozan can’t be blamed for this one. He scored 20 points on 12 shots in 25 minutes — and he didn’t turn the ball over. When the Spurs looked halfway competent, it was usually DeRozan doing the heavy lifting. He drove with patience and knocked down a three-pointer for the second straight game after going 68 consecutive games without a three. Defensively, he was more aware than usual but his actual effectiveness on that end wasn’t enough to warrant sending a letter to Compton.
It looked like Rudy Gay wanted to pick up some of the slack with Aldridge out but it didn’t work out. Instead, he spent the night stumbling and bumbling on offense. He bit off more than he could chew in most situations and has now missed 11 straight three-pointers. Defensively, he got run over by the bigs on Detroit. He allowed deep position too easily and then didn’t have much hope to defend the rim.
All in all, Derrick White was sturdy on both ends — but just didn’t do enough. With the Spurs down their lone All-Star from a season ago, White didn’t play with enough urgency or force. San Antonio needed him to take on more of the load on offense and make more plays on defense. Again, White was satisfactory in most facets … but the Spurs needed more than satisfactory.
It was another ugly game from Bryn Forbes. His shots weren’t falling on offense, even when he got wide open looks. Then he made matters worse by hanging his head and getting beat on the defensive end. While Forbes has had his ups and downs this season, this is the first time I’ve seen him get down on himself. That only makes things worse.
The good: Jakob Poeltl played with some physicality and was able to make plays on offense. He also converted a couple more-difficult-than-usual finishes on the offensive end. The bad: His inability to grab contested rebounds doomed San Antonio’s chances. When Andre Drummond finishes with two times as many offensive rebounds than Poeltl had defensive rebounds, that’s a problem. And while he was physical at times, he was often a step slow to rotate. On offense, Poeltl had a couple timid finishes that seemed to let the air out of the balloon as the Spurs were trying to make a run.
While Dejounte Murray buried a three-pointer, the rest of his shots looked terrible. He airballed a couple of them by distances that would need to be measured in feet. But other than his misses, I thought he did pretty well. He had twice as many assists as anyone else on the team, took care of the ball for the most part and played hard on defense. Specifically, Murray had three first half steals and was hounding Derrick Rose to the point that Rose could hardly dribble the ball.
Drew Eubanks played his first meaningful minutes of the year. The good: Eubanks’ statistical production looked good on paper. He had one hellacious finish at the rim and he looked big and athletic against a big and athletic team — which is a good sign as he develops. His rebounding instincts look to be pretty good and he rolls decently well to the basket. The bad: Eubanks had bad timing when jumping. As a result, he was constantly out of position on defense. His help-defense could only be classified as between extremely late and nonexistent. It’s understandable that Eubanks wouldn’t emerge from the shadows and immediately play great basketball but he looked raw in most aspects of the game. The Spurs will want to see some tangible development in his game if he’s going to stick around.
Offensively, Trey Lyles was mostly a mess. He appeared to try to increase his aggression level but it didn’t work. Instead, he was taking (and usually missing) questionable shots. We also didn’t see the passing from Lyles that has made him a bit of an early-season surprise. Defensively, I thought he was really bad in the first half. In the second half, he played with more toughness on that end — but he was still hurting more than helping.
Patty Mills didn’t seem to have his boundless energy tonight. He wasn’t pushing the pace and he was only a low-grade pest on defense. Add to that formula a handful of missed shots and it was a forgettable night at the office for the Australian.
Lonnie Walker IV
Once again, Lonnie Walker IV delivered when he was given some playing time. He looks really good going to the basket; his elevation off of one foot is exciting and he’s crafty when finishing at the rim. Walker’s outside shooting stroke also looks smooth. In his first 13 minutes of action, Walker scored 13 points. It has become painfully obvious that he is needed in the rotation. With Aldridge out, it should have been a no-brainer to play him.
Marco Belinelli had a good pass and hit a three-pointer in garbage time. And that was about the extent of his positive work in 15 minutes of action.
DeMarre Carroll played the entire fourth quarter. He was active … but didn’t do anything too notable. His defense didn’t stand out from the pack and he was more hogging the ball on offense than doing anything productive with it.
This was another game where Pop simply didn’t coach well. He entered the game with a highly questionable gameplan, as I don’t know how he thought it was a good idea to start Rudy Gay at power forward against Blake Griffin. As expected, Gay was eaten alive in the paint all night long. Going to Belinelli instead of Walker looked like a laughable decision by the end of the night. I also don’t like how it appears that Pop has further demoted Murray. Murray began the year as the starting point guard. Now, not only is he coming off the bench, Pop has him playing shooting guard more often than not. Giving up on Murray so quickly is, well, sad. Overall, while it’s not surprising that this team lost a road game, the Spurs didn’t look prepared coming out of the gates and I didn’t see any fight — from the players or the coaches — when the defense was getting trampled upon.
Up Next for the Spurs
On Tuesday, the Spurs host the Houston Rockets. Considering that the Rockets are coming off of a 158-111 victory over the Atlanta Hawks in which James Harden scored 60 points even though he didn’t play in the fourth quarter, that game will be ugly unless the Spurs come ready to compete with much more vigor than they competed with tonight.