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The Spurs road game isn't playing at home

Some pretty uninspiring play against the Orlando Magic on Tuesday night highlights a problem that doesn't seem to have an origin point.

Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports

Maybe the San Antonio Spurs tried to get just one more meal out of that 5-day old turkey, but they seemed to spend most of Tuesday evening oscillating between "still full of tryptophan" and "I probably should've thrown out those leftovers."

In what now might have actually reached trend status, the Spurs came out sluggish at home against an Orlando Magic team that, while comprised of some interesting pieces, should never challenge the Spurs from a talent perspective. That they soundly defeated the good guys and held them to a season-low 83 points is potentially troubling.

A sloppy but close game through the first two and a half quarters, the contest got out of hand midway through the third. With 6:30 remaining the Magic were up 61-58. There was then a four minute stretch in which the Magic stole the ball on three consecutive possessions, capped by a 5-on-3 fast break that the Spurs couldn't score on. The lead ultimately swelled to 73-62 with 1:45 left in the period, and the Spurs never really threatened again.

Some of the credit for the Spurs troubles must surely go to the Magic defense, which by the end of the season will probably be one of the top-ranked units in the league with the length, athleticism, and natural defending instincts of Bismack Biyombo, Serge Ibaka, and others. But the more troubling aspect is that the Spurs responded to defensive pressure by abandoning their offense in favor of one-on-one play, and what Manu Ginobili called "too much hero ball." There were spacing breakdowns and ball-movement black holes and the Spurs were out-assisted by one of the worst offensive units in the league, to accompany their season-high 18 turnovers.

Thanksgiving leftovers aside; what's going on at home for the Spurs?

Since May 1st, The Spurs are 4-6 in the friendly confines of the AT&T center, after winning an unprecedented 43 of the previous 44 home games.

Some fans had creative solutions:


But it is something for coach Gregg Popovich to figure out. They are 3-4 at home in November, after going 23-4 in the previous four Novembers at the AT&T Center. For tonight at least, we can chalk it up to "one of those nights," as across the league the team with the worse record won every game (the 2nd time in NBA history when at least 6 games were played).

The Spurs loss registers as the largest upset of the season thus far with the Magic entering with just an 8.3 percent chance to win, according to ESPN's Basketball Power Index. The Cavs and Clippers each also lost to clearly inferior opponents, so there is some solace in weirdness being everywhere.

Quote of the "Night"

"They sleep, they eat, they go through your stuff and then they execute you to death and leave your arena successful." - Brad Stevens

This quote is actually from last Friday, but here's to hoping the Spurs can continue on their 10-game road winning streak after having their 9-game total streak snapped against the Magic.

Game Ball


I guess if you have to focus on the positives in an otherwise wholly forgettable game, you could point to DeWayne Dedmon's contributions against his old team and in his first game back from injury (6 points, 8 rebounds, 2 blocks in 16 minutes). Kawhi Leonard also had some eye-catching Kawhi type plays en route to 21 points and two steals, though he ran hot-and-mostly-cold for the night, and the twenty-point plateau has become routine as Leonard has scored 20+ points in 15 of 18 games this season.

But the real MVP was probably Tim Duncan's texts to Sean Elliot--which continue to make Spurs broadcasts must-see TV, and give us confidence that the retirement transition is going swimmingly:

Numbers Game

23 - Pau Gasol has now played more NBA games than Michael Jordan. Gasol is now #79 in history with 1,073 games played, passing Jordan's 1,072. (That seems like an insanely low place on that list!)

30 - Manu just moved into #30 in NBA history in career three-pointers with 1,361.

62.2 - Just a reminder that the Spurs still maintain the best winning percentage in NBA history (Lakers 60.2%, Celtics 58.8%)


  • The Spurs must continue to get improved point guard play - Mills and Parker combined to shoot 2-for-11 with 6 turnovers to 5 assists. Ginobili may have been a bit up and down, but at least showed an effort and determination finishing with 13 points, 6 rebounds, and 3 assists. At 39 years young, he was the most determined Spur in the final minutes, pushing players 20 years his junior.
  • Davis Bertans only got 6 minutes, and the Spurs seemed to have sorely needed his ability to stretch a Magic team that was clogging the lane (5-for-20 from deep). But a rookie will get minute allotments like this on a Gregg Popovich team.
  • There are certainly a handful of guys who come to play against the Spurs, and often have well above their average night. Serge Ibaka -- with 18 points on 7-of-11 shooting, 7 rebounds, 2 steals, 1 block -- is definitely one of those guys. (Jarret Jack, Dion Waiters, and a few others spring to mind.)
  • Twitter

    A forgettable game, but some memorable tweets.


    PtR: Come for the Game Threads, stay for the world-class analysis

    Manuuuuuu still got it!


    Some like it popped:

    [fire emoji]