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What we learned from the Spurs comeback win over the Lakers

After surviving a slow start, San Antonio pushed past and held on down the stretch for another entertaining win over Los Angeles

NBA: Los Angeles Lakers at San Antonio Spurs John Glaser-USA TODAY Sports

I don’t want to be overly dramatic or anything, but if this is really how Spurs games are going to be all season then I don’t think any of us are going to survive until Christmas. There’s just going to be hundreds of Spurs fans aimlessly wandering the streets of San Antonio like The Walking Dead or something. We’ll win a game 173-164 and then lose the next one 142-81. Maybe we score 70 in a quarter or 200 in a game. Nothing will matter. Records will be meaningless. Chaos will reign. Minds will be lost.

Sure, things will probably settle down eventually, but this still feels crazy. The Spurs have now scored over 100 points in all but one of their first five games. They’ve allowed over 100 in all of them. We aren’t just taking steps into uncharted territory for a Spurs team, we’re careening into the unknown while hoping we’ll all be in one piece at the end.

As the dust settles on another crazy tilt with the Lakers and we try to take the temperature of this team, we can rest securely in the fact that the Spurs have one of the best offenses in the league. With the talent they have on the attack, especially DeMar DeRozan and LaMarcus Aldridge, there’s no reason this shouldn’t continue to be the case all year, barring any other unfortunate injury woes. Granted, that’s not an insignificant “if”.

The Spurs can score lots of points. This is good.

The other good news is that because we have one of the worst defenses in the league, there’s nowhere to go but up. Seriously, even with the porous defensive effort so far, the early returns on this campaign haven’t been a complete disaster, and that should be encouraging. If they can maintain this level of offense and manage to to be, I don’t know, the 20th best defensive team in the league, then who knows what they’ll be capable of.

Dare to dream, friends. Dare to dream of an opponent held under 100 points.

Maybe in our lifetime.


  • Unlike last Monday’s OT win over the Lakers, the Spurs did not get out to a hot start on Saturday. In fact, it looked like they had picked up right where they left off against the Pacers. They trailed by as many as 14 in the first half and looked like a mess on both sides of the floor. Lazy passes led to numerous turnovers and fast breaks. Laker players were constantly taking wide open threes and beating the Spurs to rebounds. It really felt like the game was tip toeing along the edge of getting out of hand multiple times early on.
  • I think the Spurs are very fortunate to be getting two looks at the Lakers this early in the season. They have so much talent bursting at the seems and it feels like they just aren’t quite able to harness it for a full 48 minutes yet. They had sequences, especially in transition or on the break, where they looked unstoppable. LeBron James is so supremely good at basketball and he’s going to give them a chance to win every night. If we weren’t catching them now while their young dudes and Lance Stephenson are still figuring everything out, maybe these two games finish differently.
  • DeMar DeRozan continues to be a pleasure to watch every time he takes the floor. His final line of 30 points, 8 assists, and 12 rebounds, doesn’t even do justice to the way he took control of this game. His movement, with and without the ball, is so foundational to everything good the Spurs do on offense. He allows for Rudy Gay to have space to lope through the lane and throw down huge dunks. He creates open threes for Patty Mills and Bryn Forbes. His pick-and-roll action with Aldridge might be as devastating a combo as the Spurs have ever had and the Spurs have had some extremely devastating combos. DeRozan was the key to it all Saturday night.
  • I know it’s easy to poke fun at the abundance of mid-range jumpers DeRozan takes, but he truly is lethal from inside the arc. Teams know he doesn’t want to take threes and it just doesn’t matter. He gets to the rim when he wants and if they want to give him mid-range jumpers he’ll just go ahead and hit them in their face all day. I don’t know how many times I’d heard about this skill anecdotally before this year and shrugged it off, but it’s breathtaking to behold night after night. I noticed during this game that on a few different occasions the Spurs ran inbound plays designed specifically for him to get of his preferred elbow adjacent jumpers. He was open every time because, turns out, teams just give that shot away. It might as well be a dunk for him.
  • Now that I’ve praised him a bunch, I have to say that I hated the Spurs final possession. Once again, the plan at the end of the game seemed to be for DeMar to ISO and just hopefully make something good happen. Josh Hart actually played him really well and forced him into an awkward pump fake tango that resulted in a contested jumper. It worked out this time, but I’m pretty sure that’s only because flames were shooting out of DeRozan’s ears at that point. I love his playmaking ability, I really do, I just wish the Spurs would be smarter about how they deploy it late in games. It’s going to matter at some point.
  • Pau Gasol played some solid minutes, and during a two-minute span of the 3rd quarter, he actually threw down two tip slams. One of them closed the quarter out in emphatic fashion. Gasol dunks might be my favorite dunks on the team this year.
  • I made numerous cracks about the Marco Belinelli signing in the off season, so I’d like to take this opportunity to eat a little crow. It’s really fun having Marco back! Maybe it’s just been a while or maybe he’s just not playing too many minutes, but he seems impressively spry this year. Specifically, his cuts to the basket are quick and sharp and cause all sorts of problems for opposing defenses. Maybe it’s just that they’re as surprised as me to see Marco streaking across their face, curling into the lane and finishing at the rim. I don’t remember that move being in his arsenal last time around.
  • The Spurs weren’t a complete disaster on defense tonight. They even logged stretches in the 2nd half that you could maybe even call . . . good? Dante Cunningham in particular made LeBron James work hard and, overall, it seemed like everyone was attempting to communicate with each other better as the game went on. Baby steps.
  • This might be blasphemous, but I was getting a few strong Tony Parker vibes out of Bryn Forbes tonight. A few times early in the game, he came around off a high screen, sprinted into the lane and offered up a wrong footed floater straight out of Tony’s playbook. I know he may not be able to replicate the raw athleticism that we thought we’d be getting this season at the point guard position from Dejounte Murray, but it’s not that hard to imagine Bryn doing a B+ Tony Parker impression all year. Frankly, I think we’d be lucky to have it.
  • I also think I just miss Tony.