If the losses on the San Antonio Spurs nine-game homestand were to be ranked beginning with the most disappointing, tonight’s defeat at the hands of the Indiana Pacers very well could be deserving of the top spot. The Spurs really needed a win but instead lost 139-133 in overtime. They’re now 2-6 on the homestand and 24-23 overall.
The Pacers were without arguably their two best players in Domantas Sabonis and Malcolm Brogdon. They were also on the second night of a back-to-back. But instead of feeling sorry for themselves, Indiana soundly outplayed San Antonio for a majority of the game.
The Spurs rallied in the fourth quarter to force overtime but ended up folding in the extra session. Ouch.
In overtime, Patty Mills and Rudy Gay had open three-pointers that could have given the Spurs the lead with in the final minutes. Gay had a jumper that could have tied the game with less than a minute to go. All three shots missed and TJ McConnell (18 points, eight assists and seven rebounds) put the Alamo City to bed with 17.8 seconds remaining by hitting a 17-footer.
San Antonio’s defense was as bad as the 139 points suggests. Indiana shot 55.3% from the field and they were 12-for-29 (41.4%) from three-point range. On the other end, the Spurs offense wasn’t bad but they made things harder by scoring a grand total of zero (0) fast break points.
Spurs vs. Pacers: Final Grades
Poeltl didn’t have an amazing defensive game but he was solid and had a few highlight plays. He was strong on the glass on both ends. Offensively, a lack of awareness cost him a few easy buckets. Poeltl didn’t realize how open he was a handful of times and didn’t take advantage. All in all, he was pretty good but he had room to be even better.
The good: Scoring-wise, DeRozan was beastly through three quarters. He had his scalpel in his hand and was dissecting the Pacers for possessions at a time. Getting to the line 15 times helped keep the good guys afloat. The bad: Oh my, DeRozan was horrendous on defense. This had to be his worst defensive game of the season. Terribly slow in transition, slow in rotations, keeping no one in front of him … just a disaster on that end. His five turnovers didn’t help on the offensive end. Even worse was his disappearing act in the fourth quarter and overtime. After going 6-for-9 from the field and 11-for-11 at the line in the first three quarters, he was 0-for-3 from the field and 2-for-4 at the line in the fourth quarter and overtime. For someone who is regarded as the designated closer, that’s unacceptable.
The good: I liked White’s effort on defense. Things didn’t always work out in his favor but he was at least trying. He launched ten more three-pointers, which is helpful. His driving to the basket was much better than we’ve seen recently. The bad: White got in foul trouble early, which obviously didn’t help matters. His passing wasn’t good and he was sloppier than usual. I also thought he hesitated on about three or four other open three-pointers he had. The team needs him to keep firing away.
Murray’s numbers look better than his true impact on the game. Defensively, while he was active, he gambled too much and wasn’t reliable help-wise. He also wasn’t as active on the defensive glass as we’ve come to expect. Offensively, he had his moments and produced pretty well in the halfcourt setting, but his failure to push the pace consistently resulted in the Spurs getting too few easy buckets. His decision-making was too error-prone and a beat slow.
The lone silver lining for the Silver and Black was Johnson’s play. He was back to his energetic, bruising ways. Even though he had a few drives get rebuffed early, Johnson kept attacking and put together a strong outing. His rebounding was the factor that allowed him to make his imprint. It also helped that he sank both of his three-point tries, which made the Pacers defend him out on the perimeter. Defensively, he had a few hustle plays in addition to his board crashing.
Mills was basically the bench version of DeRozan this game. Great offensively through three quarters. In the fourth and overtime, he was 0-for-4. Defensively, he was terrible. A lot of McConnell’s damage came with Mills guarding him. When things mattered most, the Australian was a liability on both ends.
For Gay, this was a lot like his game against the Atlanta Hawks. Dreadful through three quarters and then almost single-handedly carried the Spurs into the overtime session. He scored 11 fourth quarter points on 4-for-4 shooting. Gay had another basket in the overtime but, unfortunately, he also had two big misses. It’s commendable that Gay is answering the bell when the Spurs get desperate and things look bleak — but his production in non-desperation times has been minimal lately and he’s also mixing in untimely misses in this stretch.
Not much to be impressed about from Vassell. With Lonnie Walker IV still out with a wrist injury, this has been an opportunity for Vassell to carve out a bigger, more permanent role … but he hasn’t. Offensively, he’s now 5-for-17 in his last four games. Defensively against the Pacers, he had one good steal but the rest of his evening was forgettable on that end.
With Drew Eubanks a late scratch with a migraine, Luka Samanic got a chance to be in the regular rotation. Unfortunately, he didn’t deliver. On offense, he forced things a little bit and never got comfortable. On defense, he got caught watching the ball a couple times and his work on the glass was iffy. Samanic wasn’t terrible but he also didn’t hit the ground running as smoothly as he did previously when given a chance to be in the rotation.
A lot of things I didn’t like: 1) Johnson not getting a chance to finish the game. 2) Murray out of the game in key stretches. 3) Too many plays for Mills. 4) Too much leaning on Poeltl; too much a quick hook with Samanic. 5) No reaction to DeRozan and Mills getting annihilated on defense.
Welp, I guess we should be glad that this homestand is almost over. The last game is Monday against the Cleveland Cavaliers. Happy Easter.