Coming off of back to back losses against fellow Texas teams, the Spurs needed a win. Easier said than done as they faced a Mavericks squad that gave them fits for the fourth time in thirty days. Oh yeah — they were also tasked with doing so without three resting starters and the injured Kyle Anderson.
After an embarrassing performance against the Rockets the night before, this game looked like a continuation of that abysmal matchup. The Mavericks jumped on a short handed San Antonio team, and took control of the game from the opening tip. The difference though, was that the Silver and black managed to hang around for most of the night and prevent the visiting Mavericks from blowing the game open.
Led by a couple of gutsy performances from their depleted core, the Spurs managed to string together a furious fourth quarter comeback that shell shocked the Mavericks. Here are the takeaways from a shocking night of basketball.
- This is probably the most disappointing performance I’ve seen from Rudy Gay this season. Down four key players in the rotation, Gay has to exploit his matchup and force the issue offensively. 8 shots in 30 minutes of court time is underwhelming. I doubt PATFO signed the volume scorer to sit back and be a spot up shooter. We are still just 30 games into the season, but if this team is going to reach their ceiling, Gay will have to find a way to maximize his skillset within the system.
- For as strong of a start that Pau Gasol has had this season, the veteran big man has slowly disappeared last week. 4 points in his last three games is not going to cut it. The two-time NBA champion is way too versatile to see such a dip in his production; especially in a 3 game stretch that saw the team struggle to score the ball. I fully expect to see a conscious effort by the coaching staff to get the hall of fame Spaniard more involved on the offensive end of the floor.
- Behind the freakish duo of Anthony Davis and Demarcus Cousins, LaMarcus Aldridge might be the best big man in the game this season. The former Longhorn has solidified his role as a dominant post scorer on this team. He has struggled to convert some bunnies in his past few outings, but he has yet to let that effect his production. On top of his offensive prowess, the All-Star big has stepped up his defensive production as well. Needless to say, LA is playing at a superstar level thus far this season and the fact that this team is nowhere close to it’s potential yet should terrify the opposition.
- Dejounte Murray had flashes of greatness in a performance that should remind Spurs fans how high the young point guard's ceiling is.
Kid is going to be a special, special player.— colton chumbley (@chumbleycolton) December 18, 2017
We have all raved about his athleticism since the day he was drafted, but he has shown improvement in a number of areas this season. For me what stands out is his cross over. It’s both fascinating and infuriating to see DJ’s improvement here on a game to game basis. There are times that he looks like a spitting image of James Harden or John Wall with his handle, and then maybe one or two possessions later he’ll dribble through the lane with the ball bouncing as high as his shoulder. Fortunately for the Spurs, Saturday night was a taste of the former.
When he played ed through high ball screens with Aldridge and Gasol, the second year point guard was able to slice his away through the paint at ease. What took away from his performance though, was the lack of spacing on the floor as the Spurs once again could not buy a bucket from beyond the arc. Despite his penetration, it was very rare that the Silver and Black were able to capitalize when the defense collapsed on the young playmaker. An area I would like to see Murray improve is his jumper. If he can consistently knock down 15 footers when the defense goes underneath the screen, he will become a matchup nightmare for opposing backcourts. Overall, this was a big game for Murray, who despite seeing his minutes reduced with the return of Tony Parker, has proved to the coaching staff that he will be ready when his number is called upon.
- Bryn Forbes’ effort has been outstanding theough his recent uptick in minutes. The undersized gunner has brought some much-needed energy on the floor and has found a way to hold his own in some difficult matchups. His jumper has lost some of its flare from the start of the season, but its hard not to be impressed with his play thus far. I would like to see him attack a bit more with the ball in his hands, as he has proven the ability to score off of the bounce, however I expect that will come the more comfortable he gets on the floor.
- Is there anything left to say about Manu Ginobili? This dude continues to stare down Father Time. In his 15th season he has delivered two game winners and quarterbacked an offense that has at times looked lost without him. Not only did he provide the Spurs with their first and only lead of the night, but he also came up with one of the most Ginobili-esque plays of all time.
I’ve been in appreciation mode for #20 for the past 6 seasons, and it’s only increased my enjoyment in watching him lace up each game.
- Patty Mills hit some big shots in the first half to stop the bleeding, but overall I thought the Ausie point guard struggled to run the offense. This has been an adjustment season for the offensive spark plug, as the coaching staff has tasked him with a lot more than scoring the basketball this year. With Giniobili’s workload gradually decreasing, Patty’s development as a point guard will be an important part of this team’s growth offensively.