The San Antonio Spurs (2-4) dropped their fourth consecutive contest, this time to the Utah Jazz (4-2). The Spurs fell into an early hole and were unable to recover, as the Jazz never trailed and won by a final count of 130-109. The game was even more lopsided than the score indicates.
The Spurs trailed by a relatively modest 14 points at halftime but the Jazz hit seven three-pointers in the first eight minutes of the second half. The seventh three gave Utah a 22-point lead and San Antonio was out for the count.
The Jazz were 21-for-41 from three-point range, while the Spurs were 6-for-19 from deep. There was simply no overcoming that disparity on this night.
Offensively, it was another strong effort for Johnson. Big Body used his big body to muscle his way to the rim and his deft touch allowed him to finish an efficient 10-for-16 from the field. He also mixed in a couple quality passes. Defensively, he wasn’t as hot. Bojan Bogdanovic (28 points in 27 minutes) got off early on him, although it wasn’t all Johnson’s fault.
DeRozan was fine on offense. He missed a few makeable shots but he could be relied upon to make decent decisions. In the few stretches where the Spurs looked like a competent basketball team, it was usually DeRozan leading the charge. Defense, though, was a different matter. The 31-year-old was really poor and spent much of his time on that side of the court lollygagging around.
Oof. Murray was a nightmarish 1-for-13 from the field. He missed a few shots early and then never mentally recovered. He started forcing the issue, tensing up and then couldn’t hit anything. From midrange jumpers to wide open layups, Murray simply could not locate the bottom of the net. His passing was adequate at times but his shooting struggles ended up consuming him. Even on defense, he was desperately trying to make plays rather than just sticking to the game plan.
Poeltl’s numbers look pretty (11 points, seven rebounds and four assists in 24 minutes) but I wasn’t impressed. The Jazz put him in the middle of countless pick-and-rolls and Poeltl was consistently overwhelmed. He couldn’t stop the ball, he couldn’t stop the roll, he couldn’t drop back and protect the rim … he was just overmatched. To survive, the Spurs started sending a lot of help — and that was a leading reason why the Jazz got so many clean looks from three-point land. Offensively, Poeltl had his moments but he was so soft in traffic that he couldn’t be relied upon from possession to possession. Softness, in all aspects, made him much less valuable than his stats my indicate on paper.
Lonnie Walker IV
The good: Walker attacked the rim more aggressively than usual. His individual defense was good in spots. The bad: Walker passed up more three-point shots and was relying on too much finesse around the hoop. Defensively, despite a few highlights, he wasn’t fighting around screens and his help-defense wasn’t good.
It was another typical outing for Gay. A lot of shots and just a few passes on offense. On defense, his activity level was good and he was usually in the right spots but his slow-footedness capped his effectiveness on that end.
With Derrick White out after he re-injured his surgically repaired toe, Vassell was back in the rotation. The rookie was okay-ish. On offense, he struggled to find his spots and didn’t look smooth with the ball in his hands but his passing was good and he limited his mistakes. Vassell was better on defense, where he was able to force a few turnovers and disrupt a few surefire buckets.
This was Mills’ least effective game of the season. The ball was getting stuck in his hands too often and he wasn’t pushing the pace as well as usual. On defense, his rotations were a step slow and his lack of size was a definite issue at times.
Lyles got the call as the team’s backup center tonight — and didn’t really move the needle. His rebounding was a strength and his ball-handling was helpful on a few possessions … but that was about the extent of his impact. He rarely looked at the rim and was only really a speed bump on defense.
After a couple sub par games against the Lakers, Eubanks was back to being the team’s third string center. Versus the Jazz, he didn’t do much to help elevate his stock. The effort level is there but most of his time is being spent rumbling, stumbling and bumbling without much apparent skill or tact.
The rookie second round pick out of Duke looked pretty good in garbage time. His speed and athleticism is a bit better than advertised. He also didn’t hesitate to call his own number when given daylight, which was an issue in the preseason.
Samanic looked extremely rusty in garbage time, which couldn’t be too much of a surprise given how little he has played in the last nine-plus months. He was winded after a few seconds and didn’t have any touch. He did hit a guarded three-pointer … which is something, I guess.
The Spurs got destroyed from the opening tip — and Pop deserves some blame for that. The Spurs came out flat, unquestionably. However, I don’t think the rotations were an issue. There just weren’t enough players playing well and the Jazz were on fire from three-point territory. No amount of coaching would have been enough to make up the difference.
The Spurs now head out on a five-game road trip, beginning with the Los Angeles Clippers on Tuesday. This road trip is not great timing considering that San Antonio is already riding a four-game losing streak. The silver lining: In these pandemic times, there’s no such thing as homecourt advantage.