The Spurs failed me last night, plain and simple. I don't care if it was close. I don't care if they had a chance to win in this 104-101 loss. They didn't win -- thus, they failed me.
I had a terrible day yesterday. I have a leak in the water line that leads into my house. Mrs ATS' car overheated on the way home from work -- it was 45 degrees out -- and had to be dropped off at the shop. And I can't tell you what tops the list. So when I sat down to watch the game, I needed a win. My team needed to win a game for me. Because that's why I HAVE a team. They need to make my day better. It is my escape from reality. It is where I get to check out of my life and get something enjoyable placed into it.
Instead, they had another suckfest in a game they really couldn't afford to lose. At 9-9, with such an easy schedule so far, our record is very worrying.
I think we all remember this Pop quote from last year:
We suck on 'D. Both individually and team-wise, we suck. We're pretty consistent that way. I don't know if I have an answer to that. If I did, we wouldn't suck quite so bad.
If Pop dropped the "on 'D" part from that line, it would apply aptly to this year's team. Last night encapsulated all the problems we have seen. Let's take a look.
This is an easy one. We just don't take care of the ball, and it is a team effort (or failure) across the board. Last night against the Jazz, we had "only" 15 turnovers. "Only" because that is our best turnover rate in the last three games. But when the TOs came last night, they came in waves. We had 4 at the half. We then fueled the 37-19 drubbing the Jazz gave us in the third quarter with 7 turnovers.
The Jazz scored on 12 straight possessions in just under 6 minutes. They went on to shoot 53% for the game. This is after they got off to a terrible start early and were in the mid-30s after the first quarter. Again, this is nothing new to this game. The Spurs have not been able to play consistently on the defensive end for an entire game against any decent team.
Matt Bonner and The Final Play
Matt provided both a very high point in the game and a very low point. He lit up the scoreboard with 28 points. He also grabbed an impressive 8 rebounds. He caught fire and got us back into the game in the fourth quarter. He had a 17-point quarter. Then, inexplicably, with 10 seconds left and the Spurs down by one point, he decided to go one-on-one from the top of the key. Of course, this didn't go well.
How the hell was that our final play?
Execution In The Clutch
We've been abysmal in the final minutes of games. I'm used to us executing. I'm used to our ability to get good shots. This year, we are turning the ball over and getting terrible shots.
Last night with 3:00 left in a tie game, our next three possessions were: Manu TO, Bonner 1-2 free throws, Tim TO. Utah scored on their two possessions between ours and took a 3 point lead.
Nuggets end of game, down 1 with 3:14 left: Bad foul by Manu, Tony TO, missed layup, gave up offensive rebound, gave up offensive rebound
Yeah, I'm doing some cherry picking -- sour cherries at that -- but the fact is we just haven't played well in close games in the last two minutes. Whether against good teams or not.
One And A Half Stars
I know I'd like to think we have a Big Four, but right now we've got a Big One and a Half.
Tim has been awesome. As good as we could want him to be.
Tony has been pretty good, but he has been extra-super-sloppy with the ball at times.
Manu has struggled. Sure, he's shown some flashes of getting it back but he is a LONG way from playing at an all-star level. His shooting the last three games has been very poor. 4-12, 3-9, and 2-7 for 32%. Add in 7 turnovers against 7 assists. When you play good teams, you need your best players to play well.
Rage has been, um, not scoring and not doing much of anything else offensively. He's averaged just under 8 points per game over the last 3, and hauled in just under 4 rebounds per game. He's 3-10 from 3-point range and shooting 36% overall. He's 0-5 from the free throw line. He's had exactly 2 turnovers and 2 assists in each game. That's consistency, I guess. Yeah, he's new to the system, but it is still basketball. The free throw line hasn't moved.
We need a Big Productive Four. Our stars not named Tim need to start playing like all-stars.
Our Free Agents
McDyess, Bogans, and Ratliff. Ewwww. Isn't that the first word that comes to mind when you think about how those guys are playing? Or, maybe with Ratliff, you thought "who?"
There really isn't even much to discuss about these guys.
Some Urgency Please
Ok, I feel better. I just had to get that bunch of suck off my chest. For sure, and make no mistake, we are playing like suck.
We are in an interesting situation. No, I don't think we are in danger of missing the playoffs. But since when was that the goal? The goal is to win it all, and I sure as hell don't see that happening with this team. A lot of guys are going to have to start playing better. And they better start doing it soon. Because they have a LONG way to go as a team. The Spurs like to say, "It's a process." Well, that process takes time. You don't just get better overnight, and they have a whole lot of getting better to do.