Grades: San Antonio Spurs at Chicago Bulls – Game #54
In the first game of the Rodeo Road Trip, the San Antonio Spurs got mowed over by the Chicago Bulls by a final score of 128-104. This was the ninth straight loss for San Antonio, who fell to 14-40.
The Spurs kept it close for the first 35 minutes of the game. With the game tied at 85-85 with a minute to go in the third quarter, the Bulls proceeded to go on a 23-3 run over the next six minutes to put the Spurs out of their misery.
The good guys were playing pretty well until their fourth quarter collapse. Without Devin Vassell, Tre Jones or Jeremy Sochan, the Spurs just didn’t have enough weapons to keep up when the Bulls got rolling.
Spurs at Bulls – Final Grades
More of the same from Johnson. He can’t buy a three-pointer right now (he is 0-for-4 in his last two games and 1-for-9 in his last three games) but he’s retaining value by scoring at the rim. His finishing has been excellent recently and it was outstanding against the Bulls. He’s also 13-for-13 at the line in the last two games. Johnson’s passing was better than usual but he’s still missing open teammates here and there. Defensively, it’s more bad than good.
Poeltl didn’t have a night to remember. He had trouble holding his ground in the paint and was slow to rotate out of the paint on defense. All around, his defensive effort was at an all-time low. Consider that the Bulls got 43 points and 27 rebounds out of their two centers, Nikola Vucevic and Andre Drummond. On offense, Poeltl had some good passes, flashed good hands and made a couple tough shots — but, unfortunately, his evening was defined on the other end.
After scoring career-highs in back-to-back contests, Branham came back down to earth in Chicago. He hit only 6-for-18 from the field. The rookie has a low release point on his jumper and that was a big problem against an athletic Bulls squad. His shot was either blocked or bothered a number of times. Let’s hope this doesn’t become a recurring theme with him. On the bright side, I thought this was Branham’s best passing game of the year and he also did decent work on the defensive end.
Richardson is usually a steady hand for the good guys — but that didn’t really happen against the Bulls. His shot wasn’t falling, he was loose with the ball and his defensive intensity was sporadic. Richardson had a few fantastic passes but didn’t do a whole lot else to help the team.
I thought Bates-Diop’s defensive focus was much better than we typically see out of him. That said, he still had issues on D. He had a few highlight plays on that end but most of the time he looked overmatched. Offensively, he took advantage of his touches and also authored a couple of solid passes.
We knew coming into his rookie season that Wesley was extremely raw as a basketball player. That rawness was on full display on Monday night. It’s not hyperbolic to say the rookie made a couple dozen mistakes on offense in his 22 minutes. From poor shot-selection to bad passes to missed teammates to poor clock management, Wesley was stacking errors of every variety. His defense wasn’t much better than his offense, if we’re being truthful. However, the good news is Wesley got 22 minutes to learn and he was still able to flash impressive physical tools in between his miscues. He has impressive burst, he’s fearlessly fast in open space and he throws his body around. Once he learns how to play basketball, Wesley has all the markings of an NBA player. In the meantime, yeah, yikes, there’s going to be some unsightliness.
McDermott’s numbers don’t look too impressive but I thought he was okay. He missed a couple easy shots but his movement with and without the ball was even better than usual. McDermott was also making the passes he needed to make. Defensively, he got burned sometimes but he actually held up better than he usually does.
The good: Johnson had a strong move to the basket that resulted in an old-fashioned three-point play. His passing was excellent and his decision-making in transition was reliable. Defensively, he gave really good effort and bothered the Bulls more than any other player on the team. The bad: Johnson is becoming too timid on offense. He has to remain a threat to score in order to remain a positive impact player.
Roby made some mistakes but I liked his aggression and his confidence. He can sometimes be bashful and he oftentimes second guesses his decisions but he was better about just playing and trying to use his athleticism to his advantage. He missed both of his three-pointers but his mechanics looked fine.
Like Poeltl, Collins deserves ample blame for what went wrong against the Bulls. Vucevic and Drummond annihilated the Spurs on the interior and Collins was an eyewitness for much of the destruction. Add in three turnovers, three fouls and five missed shots in 13 minutes and Collins won’t be attaching video of this game to his resume, it’s safe to say.
Barlow looks quick and bouncy for a big. That’s cool.
That fourth quarter was ugly. The rest of the game, though, Pop has to be pleased with what he got out of his short-handed unit. I really liked the extended minutes for Wesley, even though it didn’t result in the world’s prettiest basketball. Calling a lot of plays for Branham was also a plus in my eyes.