Well, that’s loss number eight in a row. The San Antonio Spurs (5-11) fell to the Philadelphia 76ers on Friday night by a final count of 115-104. While the Spurs fought valiantly at times, they couldn’t get over the hump to pull the upset win against a Sixers team that remains undefeated at home.
The starters once again fell into a hole, as the Silver and Black trailed 20-10 by the time the reserves entered the ballgame. The Sixers held the Spurs at bay until the middle of the second quarter, when the good guys made a run to get within two points. However, Philly rallied right away and went into halftime with a 59-52 advantage.
The third quarter played out in a similar manner: The Spurs fell behind by ten points, clawed their way to within one point and then watched as the 76ers went on a 9-0 run in less than two minutes to bolster their lead to double-digits once again. Heading into the fourth, the Spurs were back where they started the third period, trailing 87-80.
With five minutes remaining, San Antonio once again got within sniffing distance, as they were only behind 103-97. But then, as has been the case too often in crunch time, the Spurs hit only one shot in the next three minutes and the Sixers were able to pull away.
All told, it was a decent showing by the Spurs. Moral victories don’t do any good right now but they played about as well as they’ve played during the eight-game losing streak. But, like we’ve seen plenty of times as of late, a bad offensive start, an embarrassing defense throughout and a cold offensive finish doomed San Antonio.
Spurs vs. 76ers – Final Grades
LaMarcus Aldridge was decent enough in most phases of the game. He posted up with authority a few times. Played with more of a competitive edge than usual. Efforted decently on defense. But he just wasn’t good enough in any area to give the Spurs a sustainable boost. On the other hand, his rebounding left a lot to be desired, as did his defending of the rim.
Once again, DeMar DeRozan gave a good effort. The 76ers were throwing big, long defenders at him and DeRozan was still crafty enough and determined enough to find ways to score. With the amount of contact he absorbed, he deserved more than five free throw attempts. And though DeRozan did a lot of heavy lifting on offense, his passing could have been better and his perimeter defense could have been sharper. That said, he was one of the few Spurs who deserves kudos for giving extra effort on the boards.
The good: I thought Dejounte Murray was strong defensively. Early on, he was especially disruptive. He had a few breakdowns in the second half on defense but overall this was a step in the right direction on that end of the court. On offense, when he didn’t hesitate, he was able to create good shots for himself. The bad: Offensively, Murray is still a major work in progress. He wasn’t just passing up threes tonight, he was passing up easy shots in the lane. His playmaking was sub par — to put it kindly. Murray needs to regain his confidence and get back to attack-mode.
That was ugly. When Bryn Forbes wasn’t airballing, hitting only backboard or bricking three-pointers, he was getting annihilated on defense. The Sixers were too long and too talented on both ends for Forbes. He couldn’t get a clear look at the rim on offense and while his positioning was good on defense, his effectiveness was less than zero.
I thought Jakob Poeltl had a sneaky game. Sneaky terrible, that is. The Sixers were bullying him and all Poeltl did was make matters worse by fouling. He was pitiful, absolutely godawful, rebounding on the defensive end, particularly when Aldridge wasn’t on the floor to help him out. The Spurs were hoping Poeltl could anchor the second unit in addition to his newfound starting duties but it didn’t work. He played too softly and was too feeble in the lane to offer anything of use for San Antonio.
It was a bit of a strange game for Rudy Gay. On one hand, he was a scoring machine — specifically in the first half, when he scored 17 of his 22 points. His jumper looks great; I’ve never seen him shoot contested threes as well as he’s shooting them right now. On the other hand, he left Pop exasperated by being in the wrong place during set plays three or four times. And on defense, Gay was caught flat-footed a handful of times — whether it was not boxing out for rebounds or allowing his man to go backdoor. Gay needs to stay engaged in all areas, not just scoring.
With Derrick White out with an injury, Patty Mills ran the team decently well in his absence. When the Spurs were rolling their best, it was usually with Mills at point guard. That said, he didn’t help out scoring-wise and was a sieve on the defensive end. If he wasn’t allowing dribble penetration, he was getting screened off his man and giving up open threes.
Don’t call it a comeback but Marco Belinelli now has 17 points in his last 32 minutes of action on 7-for-15 shooting from the field and 3-for-7 on threes. Compared to the rest of his season, the man is so on fire that he’s at risk of self-immolation. Defensively, though, Belinelli gave back a lot of his points by trying to leak out on the break multiple times (to do what?) while ignoring his rebounding duties (or at least box-out duties).
I don’t think DeMarre Carroll is a great defender but he looks great when next to the other yahoos defending out on the perimeter on this team. He was electric on defense, fought for every inch and actually made things uncomfortable for Philadelphia from time to time. On offense, he continues to show that his repertoire is more diverse than simply catching and shooting threes. He’s a decent enough ballhandler to bring the ball up and passes it well enough. His stats don’t pop off the boxscore but I’m hopeful that this game will catapult Carroll into an everyday spot in the rotation.
I’m happy that Pop went back to Murray as the starting point guard. Starting Mills, Forbes and DeRozan was a mistake that we hopefully don’t witness again. Giving Carroll extended minutes was overdue but nice to see. Pop’s rotation was decent enough, for the most part. I still think he should stick with his bench longer when they are rolling well. Removing Trey Lyles completely from the rotation completely wasn’t unexpected, as that was inevitable after he lost his starting gig.
Next Up for the Spurs
To say the Spurs really need to beat the New York Knicks on Saturday night is an understatement. This is San Antonio’s best chance of getting a win any time soon. Get this one. Please?