Morning Rehash: Trouble Weighs a Ton

January is the cruellest month. - Brendan Maloney-USA TODAY Sports

In a loss against the Chicago Bulls, the depleted Spurs get a glimpse of the ugliness that lies ahead.

From the letters of Timothy Theodore Duncan:

October 30, 2013

There were never four months as long as these that I have spent away from your presence, my prize. I have wandered like a vagabond across a desert of my own wounds, festering in the open sun of a treasure that slipped my grasp. I could only watch patiently as the days passed, each with its own unique sadness, chain links holding down the great weight that was heaped upon my chest when you disappeared so suddenly. I will find you again. Today showed me as much. It was the first step on the great journey to your front door. I slayed the bear for all to witness, and I confidently proclaimed my intentions. Before my time is through, we shall see our reunion become a reality. ~ Timothy

December 31, 2013

This has not been the grueling quest I had envisioned some months ago. Our troop has held ranks quite well, and we all maintain the confidence that our journey will not end before we reach our glorious destiny. Still, there are questions that trouble our minds, clouding our sunniest days and grounding our collective optimism. Though we have pushed through the smoothest terrains to make great time, we seem to lose ground whenever we encounter those rare instances of adverse weather. Those days are few and far between, particularly in our travels east, but no journey will ever be complete by a group of gentlemen that cannot handle the heavy rains and frigid winter air. Beyond that, there is talk among our men of a plague that has swept through other garrisons competing for our prize. I have done my best to quell such superstitions, but I confess that the specificity of the rumors brings chills up my spine. In these moments of weakness, I can only meditate on holding you in my arms. ~ Timothy

January 4, 2014

The sunny days of our travels are growing less frequent, and today, our troop has been dealt its harshest blow yet. Sergeant Splitter was felled suddenly in an accident in the line of duty, and will likely be out of service to our mission for some time. It was particularly painful to witness because Mr. Splitter was in the midst of one of his most productive days yet. He was leading our group with great gusto and even a bit of childlike whimsy. I fear that his temporary departure has left an imperceptible mark upon the confidence of my men. The tales I've heard of accursed troops in other lands have begun with similar circumstances. Surely these are the tales of bored men who are only trying to pass the grueling time spent traversing unpaved wilderness. Surely these are only the works of impassioned imaginations. Alas, there is no time for fear here. We will press on in the absence of our comrade. ~ Timothy

January 12, 2014

It happened again. We've lost another man. Today, Sergeant Green was working in the field when his hand was wounded by an obstruction in our path.  Though it involves a different part of the body, this latest incident shares similar circumstances to Sergeant Splitter's injury, and now I fear that we could be in the throes of an epidemic. I dare not voice such a concern to such impressionable men. Not all of them are as affable or as well-disposed as Sergeant Diaw, who continues to display a smile, engorging on sweets as he presses on, seemingly unaware of the growing chaos within our battalion. The losses of Mr. Green and Mr. Splitter are major setbacks to our mission, and though I know it borders on fantasy, I can only express to my men the confidence that our group will maintain in the absence of such vital contributors. With each mishap we encounter on our trek, I find my yearning for you grows. ~ Timothy

January 23, 2014

There is no denying now the blight that has befallen our troop. Another key cog in our successful machine has been downed by a surprise injury. This time, it was the promising Sergeant Leonard, whose hand gave out without warning while in the field. With three of our strongest men now on the sidelines, I can no longer call this coincidence. What we are experiencing has left the unmistakable blemishes of a hex. I know that this carries the impression of sensationalism, but our troop has clearly acquired some kind of scourge. The fabricated stories my men would share at the campfires on our quiet nights have become the tangible horrors of our daily torture. Our confidence has plummeted as it grows clearer by the hour that we simply do not have the manpower to maintain the pace of our early journey. We have become so desperate that Mr. De Colo, a mere stable boy just a week ago, has been put on duty at the front lines. With each letter I send to you, my prize, I feel that I could be writing down my last words. We have become the stories the other garrisons will pass along. All we can do now is wait to see what is left after this ruinous plague has passed. ~ Timothy

January 29, 2014

Another day, another comrade lost. The angel of death has come for our battalion, and he has no intention of leaving before his thirst is satiated. Today, he took one of our greatest men, the inimitable Captain Ginobili. In the heat of battle, Mr. Ginobili rose to strike a thunderous blow, but although the blow was successful, it came at great cost. He is expected to be unable to contribute for at least a month. The mind shudders to consider how we will proceed in the face of such adversity, such crippling loss. If you were to look at what has been left of our squad, you would no doubt be overcome by fits of laughter, that is if the deep sadness of our plight did not weigh upon you first. The families that support us have grown so weary by our present circumstances that they have begun convincing themselves that the way out lies in the services of cheap mercenaries and desperate vagrants. Today, we were bested by a team beneath our station and in the most unceremonious of fashions. It was an embarrassment to call retreat, but that was our only recourse. And perhaps worse than this injury curse has been the madness it has fostered. Today, Lieutenant Parker was unable to perform the most remedial of tasks in our service. As our chances in the battle faded, I found myself thinking, of all things, about cartoons. I fear this blight has taken its toll, but I cannot stop. There is too much left, and we have gone on too long to turn back now. Will I ever see you again? ~ Timothy

Be sure to read Chris Itz's recap if you haven't already. It probably makes more sense.


QUOTE OF THE GAME

"I don't know what channel that is. I'll probably be watching Cartoon Network"

- Tim Duncan, on whether he'll watch the All-Star Selection special (via @PaulGarciaPS)


ODDS AND ENDS

  • The Spurs' starting lineup: Tony Parker, Nando De Colo, Othyus Jeffers, Jeff Ayres, and Tim Duncan. Your 2014 San Antonio Spurs, everybody!Bfmmx05cuaak6it
  • Othyus Jeffers, who was rocking the hell out of Kevin Ollie's mustache, had a quiet night on the offensive end, but he did show some nice flashes of gritty defense during the game, most notably when he fought for a loose ball and caused a jump ball. It was a decent performance, but after watching him play, all I can think about is how much his shooting form resembles Derek Fisher's. So yeah, everything about this game made me sick.
  • It was clear early on that Popovich was looking for a spark, as he cycled through ten of the roster's eleven available players in the first quarter. Yech.
  • Late in the game, one of the stranger moments of the NBA season unfolded as Tony Parker went to the free-throw line for a technical foul shot. I'm not sure if he was distracted or just depressed from playing with this depleted roster, but either way, this was just weird. (ESPN later reported that a referee had said something to him as he was shooting.) The Bulls' reactions were pretty funny, but Parker got to shoot a real one right after the mishap anyway. (H/T @cjzero for the video.) 
  • You can buy David Robinson's old house. It's stupid expensive, but it's also ridiculously awesome. I think if enough of us got together, we could afford a down payment.
  • The only silver lining to the Spurs' injury woes? Grumpy Pop has returned. Last night he gave a classic two-word sideline interview to Mark Jones. (H/T, again, to @cjzero for the video.)


GAME MVP

Duncan_pro

TIMOTHY THEODORE "TIM" DUNCAN

PTS

FGM/FGA

AST

REB

PF

BLK

+/-

MIN

17

7/14

1

12

1

1

-21

35:25


Tim Duncan had a quietly effective night, even with that ghastly (and ironic) +/-. I don't want to diminish his performance, which was sorely needed in Wednesday's ugly game and likely in the ugly games to come as the Spurs regain their roster. Duncan's jumpers continue to fall as his field-goal percentage improves, and against the Bulls, he was facing a great defender in Joakim Noah. But Duncan's box score is not the kind you usually see spotlighted in this section. Typically, this solid performance would rank anywhere from second to fourth after a Spurs game. That it was the best thing we saw against the Bulls is a sign of how gutted this roster is.


GAME LVP

4636-2

JEFFREY CURTIS "JEFF" AYRES

PTS

FGM/FGA

AST

REB

PF

BLK

+/-

MIN

0

0/1

2

1

4

0

+2

15:39


Jeff Ayres does some things really well, and I realize that one of those things is not fill up a box score. That being said, it's hard to see anything he did well against the Bulls, and in this case, the box score is accurate. Ayres served up a hot and ready donut during his sixteen minutes of court time, and it was clear that he did not have anything to offer the team down the stretch. I'm tempted to put Boris Diaw's bad night in this space, but at least he grabbed some boards and took thirty minutes to get his four fouls. Ayres is not a bad player, but the hole left by Tiago Splitter grows larger by the game.


BY THE NUMBERS

  • 39.7: The points per game averaged by the Spurs' four injured players. Points aren't everything, but you're not going to get anywhere near that with replacement minutes from Nando De Colo, Cory Joseph, Othyus Jeffers, and Matt Bonner.
  • 02/26: The date for the soonest game the Spurs will likely field a full roster. All that and more from this depressing chart created by Rob Mahoney!Spurs-cal-full
  • 3.5: The distance between the Oklahoma City Thunder, first place in the West, and the Spurs, who are currently tied for third.
  • 3: The distance between the third place Spurs and the sixth place Houston Rockets. That space means home court in the playoffs.
  • 5,642: Estimated number of points Rudy Gay will drop on the Spurs on Saturday.

BIRD IS THE WORD


THE GAME IN SONG

"Trouble Weighs A Ton" by Dan Auerbach

"What's wrong dear brother? / Have you lost your faith? / Don't you remember a better place?"


GOING FORWARD, THE SPURS NEED TO...

Survive – that's all they can do, really. The upcoming slate isn't particularly tough, but everything is a slog when you're missing half your roster. These are the dog days, friends. March can't get here soon enough.

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