Grades: San Antonio Spurs vs. Detroit Pistons – Game #58

The San Antonio Spurs (29-29) have finally won a contest in the AT&T Center. After losing five consecutive home games, the Spurs beat the Detroit Pistons (18-42) on Thursday night by a final count of 106-91.

This was a game San Antonio really needed. Even though DeMar DeRozan, Dejounte Murray and Patty Mills were sitting out, the Spurs still had a lot more talent than a super youthful Pistons squad that was sitting a majority of their starters.

The good guy didn’t always play great but a lot of that was understandable considering that three of their four main ball-handlers weren’t active. Thankfully, the Spurs played well enough — particularly defensively — to end their home woes. 

Key Stretch

The Pistons got within three points, 84-81, with 7:20 remaining in the fourth quarter. Instead of sinking to yet another horrendous home loss, the Spurs picked things up. In the next three minutes, San Antonio went on a 13-1 blitz that essentially ended the competitive part of the game.

Key Statistic

Even though the Spurs were without Murray, DeRozan and Mills, they still were able to hand out 28 assists while only turning it over ten times.

spurs pistons grades

Spurs vs. Pistons: Final Grades

Lonnie Walker IV

The good: Walker’s three-point shots looked certifiably deadly. Everything about his form was picture-perfect. His passing on the move remains an area of immense growth. Defensively, he limited his mistakes. The bad: Within the three-point arc, his shot-selection and driving angles could have been smarter. He seemed to be on the verge of really exploding offensively but couldn’t quite put it all together. 
Grade: B+

Keldon Johnson

This wasn’t a walk in the park for Johnson. In fact, he went to the locker room after a hard fall early on. But, to his credit, he kept battling and kept battling and eventually found success. His three-point shot looked good, his rebounding was helpful, his passing was a bonus and he was hustling maniacally on defense. His drives weren’t often fruitful but it wasn’t for a lack of effort. 
Grade: C+

Jakob Poeltl

Poeltl is really in a good rhythm. He’s posting jaw-dropping stat lines without breaking much of a sweat. Against the Pistons, his rebounding and shot-blocking were elite. His shot-making was useful and he hit enough free throws to thwart the Hack-a-Jak strategy. 
Grade: A-

Derrick White

The first two times White started at point guard this season, the results were ugly. Tonight, he flashed just how good he can be. On offense, I liked that he never hesitated even when his jumpers clanged off the rim. His drives to the basket weren’t pretty but he reliably scored via unorthodox moves. White’s passing was also excellent. Defensively, he pressured well without fouling. His ability to challenge shots was also helpful. All in all, White was easily the best player on the court. While that shouldn’t have been a surprise, it was good to see after his first two failures when taking on a similar role. 
Grade: A-

Luka Samanic

Defensively, I can’t complain. Samanic was reaching a little too much but he was quick enough to make plays. His rotations were usually timely. On offense, he had a great pass and wasn’t bashful about finding his way into the thick of things. Sure, he might have been too aggressive at times on offense — but that’s how he will learn what does and what doesn’t work in the NBA. 
Grade: C+

Rudy Gay

The good: Gay didn’t mind being the focal point of the bench unit. It wasn’t always pretty but he was doing a decent job of creating mismatches. Defensively, it was really, really unpretty. He couldn’t hang with Detroit’s youngsters on the perimeter and Gay compounded his defensive troubles by not hustling in the paint. He got caught standing and watching too often. 
Grade: C

Devin Vassell

Back in the rotation again, Vassell couldn’t replicate the magic from his outstanding effort against the Phoenix Suns. That said, he was still really good defensively. He was in the right spots at the right times and ready to stick his nose in. Offensively, his decision-making was clunky and never came close to finding anything resembling a rhythm. 
Grade: C-

Tre Jones

Hey, not bad. Jones was in the rotation and looked pretty darn solid. On offense, his court vision and the timing of his passing were superb. From Day 1, it’s been clear he was born to be a point guard due to his natural playmaking abilities. Tonight, Jones looked to score just enough to keep the defense honest. That’s going to ultimately decide whether or not he’s going to survive in the NBA. Defensively, I thought he was a bit too amped up at first and was getting beat off the dribble too easily. But eventually Jones settled down and became an unrelenting pest on that end. 
Grade: B

Drew Eubanks

Eubanks had a little bit of trouble tiptoeing the line between aggressive and foolhardy. For the most part, he did well enough. His instincts on offense are getting better and better and he’s even turning into a player his teammates look for when a small is switched onto him. Defensively, he had a couple miscues but his physicality helped to camouflage some of those errors. 
Grade: B-

Keita Bates-Diop

For a two-way guy who seems to randomly get thrown into the fire, the Spurs have to be happy with the way Bates-Diop has performed. Against the Pistons, his obscene length led to a lot of destruction on defense. He can be seemingly out of the play … only for one of his go-go-gadget arms to come swooping in to retrieve the basketball. Offensively, he exhibited great patience and knowledge of where to be at all times.
Grade: B

Pop

The good coaching started before the game. Resting players was the right move against this overmatched Pistons team. I also agreed with the starting lineup. During the game, I liked that Pop went with a ten-man rotation to help spread the minutes.
Grade: B+

Next Up

The Spurs next play Saturday night against the New Orleans Pelicans. If the Spurs can win that road game, their chances of making the play-in tournament will jump up even higher. As it stands, the ninth seeded Spurs have a 3.5 game lead on the 11th seeded Pelicans.