The San Antonio Spurs are winners once more. After losing their first two scrimmages, the Spurs topped the Indiana Pacers by a final score of 118-111. San Antonio played with much more purpose and their intensity remained high throughout.
We will next see the Spurs in action on Friday. That’s when the good guys will play their first real game inside of the bubble.
After too underwhelming performance, DeMar DeRozan exhibited signs of life against the Pacers. Offensively, he didn’t do a whole lot of creating but he took advantage of driving lanes and seldomly forced the issue. Defensively, DeRozan mostly played at power forward and wasn’t too impressive. That said, he had a couple of positive possessions on that end and helped out with six defensive boards.
Lonnie Walker IV
Lonnie Walker IV scored 12 points in 28 minutes but the real story on that end of the court was his passing. Although he’s never been much of a playmaker at any level, Walker authored some fantastic passes versus Indiana. He finished the game with four assists but that doesn’t begin to tell the story about how much better his court vision is since the last time we watched him play. Let’s hope this playmaking version of Walker translates to the regular season. We’ve seen his scoring potential and he’s improving as a defender. If he can become a plus-passer too, his overall ceiling as a player will rise substantially.
There were still plenty of rough patches but Dejounte Murray played better today. It was likely his best scrimmage of the restart. Though he hit only 4-of-11 shots from the field, he led the team with six assists and also grabbed eight rebounds in his 28 minutes. His decision-making continues to be spotty but there were signs of improvement in that area.
In the first scrimmage, Derrick White was hesitant to pull the trigger on open jumpers. He apparently heard about that flaw from the coaches after the game because he’s been firing away since then. While he was only 3-for-14 against the Pacers, the Spurs need White to be ultra aggressive because they function better when he’s a constant threat from the perimeter. Not only was he aggressive with his shot, he seemed to always be in the thick of the action. In 29 minutes, he accumulated five rebounds, five assists, three steals and three blocks. And he did that even though he had to go to the locker room at one point after taking an elbow to the face.
Jakob Poeltl has had better days. With both teams playing small, the Austrian was oftentimes a step behind the action. The angles he took defensively weren’t always wise and he ended up picking up four fouls in his 24 minutes. Production-wise, there’s not much to complain about, as Poeltl put up eight points, six rebounds, two steals and a block.
In his first stint, Keldon Johnson got off to a bit of a slow start, particularly defensively. However, once he found his groove, Johnson never looked back. On defense, he went from looking a step slow to being on of the best defenders on the court. His hustle and energy were contagious. Offensively, Johnson playing with confidence oozing from his pores. He took open shots, he drove the lane with purpose, he looked for and gladly accepted contact, and he also made a few heady passes. Johnson finished the game with 21 points in 25 minutes, while hitting 7-of-8 shots from the field. Sure, this was just a scrimmage, but it’s one of the best games we’ve seen him play in his silver and black duds.
If you just look at the statistics, you’d think Rudy Gay had a fabulous game. He scored 23 points in 21 minutes, made 7-of-12 from the field, handed out five assists and corralled four rebounds. While Gay did play much, much better, his lack of mobility remains alarming. He’s unable to defend out on the perimeter and he doesn’t show an ability to dribble in traffic any longer. Against the Pacers, his shot was on and that fact masked a lot of his flaws. But heading into the regular season, Gay’s ability to help this team remains a question mark.
Well. Hmm. Bryn Forbes didn’t play. After being demoted from the starting lineup to the bench, Forbes was demoted further — from the bench to a spectator. Honestly, it was actually refreshing to watch the Spurs play without Forbes and the unavoidable defensive liability he brings to the court on a nightly basis. It’s too early to believe that Forbes will start racking up DNP-CDs … but this game gives the coaches something positive to point to if they decide to go down that path.
Patty Mills also didn’t play against the Pacers. That means Mills played a grand total of zero seconds in the three scrimmages. Apparently, head coach Gregg Popovich hinted that he’s saving the Australian for the regular season and that he didn’t want Mills wasting energy in scrimmages. We’ll see. It seems odd that other vets like Gay and DeRozan would need to play but that Mills doesn’t even need a couple minutes to shake off the rust. I guess we’ll find out on Friday.
Marco Belinelli played 20 minutes versus the Pacers and I thought he did pretty well. Defensively, he gave sufficient effort and actually made a couple positive plays. Offensively, his movement was helpful, he wasn’t bashful about shooting and he was engaged.
Though it’s not always pretty, Drew Eubanks continues to show potential. When he times his jumps right, his girth and athleticism make him difficult to deal with on both ends. The issue is that his timing is inconsistent and his natural feel for the game still has a lot of room for growth. He finished Tuesday’s game with eight points, five rebounds and three fouls in 15 minutes.
With Forbes and Mills spectating, Quinndary Weatherspoon with the recipient of extra minutes. Though he went scoreless in his nine minutes, he made the right passes, didn’t seem intimidating by the situation and played hard on defense. His block at the rim was really impressive for point guard. For context, Forbes has no blocks (zero) this season in more than 1,500 minutes.
It’s safe to say Chimezie Metu is well behind Eubanks on the depth chart and that his future with the Spurs is in doubt unless he surprises during the final eight games of the regular season.
Luka Samanic was awake for his five minutes this time around — but he still didn’t look good. It’d be appreciated if he gave better effort, even if he’s only going to get garbage minutes.
Unless the order was handed down by Popovich, Will Hardy giving Bryn Forbes a DNP-CD required quite a bit of chutzpah. I also liked that he relied on Keldon Johnson. No complaints.