Despite the loss, the Spurs played some resilient basketball Wednesday. Coming off of a hard fought game against the Mavericks 24 hours earlier, it’s understandable to see this group come out flat against a young and energized Minnesota team. However no matter how big of a hole they dug themselves in, there was always a response. In other words, there was no quit in this team.
With LaMarcus Aldridge in foul trouble for the majority of the night, the offense was sporadic. The silver and black put together multiple runs and cut the lead to 5, only to follow them up with back to back turnovers that led to Timberwolves baskets. The bottom line tonight was that the Spurs looked like a team who was on the second night of a back to back. In situations like this, all you can ask for out of a team is that their effort level stays the same. I think that holds true for the silver and black tonight. Fortunately they’ll have some time to regroup before they square off with the Thunder Friday night at the AT&T center. Anyways, rant over. Here’s a few takeaways from a tough loss on the road.
- Danny Green’s shot was alive and well Wednesday night as the Tarheel sharpshooter bounced back nicely after a rough outing in Dallas the night before. One piece of his game that I don’t think has been discussed enough this year is his passing off of pick and rolls, as that has provided a number of open looks for both Aldridge and Pau Gasol alike in the midrange game. #14 was always a bit of an underrated passer, however the confidence that he has started the season with looks like it has benefited the rest of his game as well.
- Rudy Gay has struggled to regain his rhythm this week. For as stellar of a start that he had back in October, the prolific scorer has struggled to put the ball in the basket in his past few outings. During a time when the offense is struggling so mightily, the Spurs will need their top scorer off of the bench to provide a boost while they continue to work out the kinks.
- Joffrey Lauvergne appears to be fully healed and comfortable on the floor in his second game back after his battle with the injury bug. He just plays an active brand of basketball and always seems to be in position to make a play. He’s a guy who will likely see his minutes rise and fall depending on the matchup, however what I like most about his game is his energy and productivity on the floor. It’s a small sample size, but it looks like PATFO found another diamond in the rough in the front court.
- Patty Mills continuously kept the Spurs in the game tonight. His second half shooting was just about the only positive from the San Antonio offense tonight. His competitiveness alone seemed to energize the Spurs after multiple Minnesota runs. With Tony Parker still nursing his injury, seeing that type of leadership out of Mills has been one of the few benefits of the Spurs toting a shorthanded backcourt this season.
- One of the most frustrating aspects of the game tonight had to be LaMarcus Aldridge getting into foul trouble. Before LA picked up his 3rd foul at the 6 minute mark of the second quarter, the Spurs were protecting a 2 point lead. From that point on, they never got closer than within 5 of the T-Wolves. Without Aldridge on the floor, the offense self-destructed. He has been a calming presence that the team can rely on when defenses tighten up along the perimeter. Without him on the floor, there is so much pressure put on the Spurs guards (who in case you haven’t heard are without their star player and point guard) that the entire team begins to over-compensate and that’s when you start to see our guys forcing the issue and not letting the game come to them.
- Pau Gasol has not gotten enough recognition for the job he has done this season. Without the 7 footer’s versatility and passing ability, God only knows how putrid the Spurs offense would look this season. He may be pushing 37, but Gasol is playing like he’s back in his 20’s right now. The fact that the power forward is currently our leader in assists per game should say more than enough about his contributions on the floor thus far.
- Bryn Forbes had a really solid first half before being bodied up for much of the second. His shooting has been spectacular this month, and if it continues, he might just find himself logging real minutes in the playoffs the year. Between Forbes, Brandon Paul, Dejounte Murray, and Davis Bertans, the Spurs have not had such an infusion of youth since maybe the ‘02-03 championship team. These guys’ development throughout the course of the season will be a major storyline to watch as the franchise continues it’s pursuit into the post-Duncan era.