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What we learned from the Spurs overtime victory over the Mavericks

Another case of San Antonio’s new normal as DeMar Derozan takes control late to seal the win

NBA: Dallas Mavericks at San Antonio Spurs Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports

I’m going to have to stop complaining about DeMar Derozan playing hero ball at the end of games, at least until he stops being such a dang hero all the time.

Once again, the Spurs found themselves locked in a tight contest tonight, up 3 with 17 seconds left in overtime. Once again, the ball found itself in DeRozan’s hands. Once again, DeMar waived everyone out to the far reaches of the court to ensure that he had enough space to operate and, once again, he used that space to drain a mid range jumper and ice the game.

Every Spurs win this season has seen DeMar with the ball in his hands at the end of the game and all but once he’s taken that ball and done what star players are supposed to do. His job is to be the best player on the team and the best player’s job is to hit shots when it matters. I can rant and rave all day on here about how I wish Pop would reach into his bag of tricks and pull out some triple screen back door cut that results in an open layup, but the reality is that right now we have a guy who is getting the job done without all that.

Will it go on the Team Basketball Highlight Reel? No. Will it go in the win column? Yes.

That’s all you can really ask for. Eventually teams will have to start double teaming him or something. They’ll do whatever they can to get the ball in anyone else’s hands, but when that time comes the Spurs will have a man open. DeMar’s shown us that he knows how to run that play too.

He just hasn’t had to yet.


  • There were signs of life on the defensive front from the Spurs tonight. The first half saw everyone on the team largely holding the Mavericks in check. People were flying around, forcing turnovers, and breaking up DeAndre Jordan alley-oop attempts. Every one seemed locked in. Dante Cunningham started the game on Luka Doncic and was impressive. It sure looks like he’s the guy early on that the coaching staff is going to point to and say, “Hey you, stop that guy.” I have no idea if that’s sustainable long term, but he’s handled himself nicely so far.
  • As good as the Spurs were on D were in the first half, they were the exact opposite to start the second. It was like the Monstars from Space Jam passed that magic ball around the locker room at half time and sapped their powers. Dallas went on 17-3 run and quickly took the lead. All the crisp rotations evaporated and the Mavs seemed to have an open look every time down the floor. By the time the Spurs had regained their footing, the Mavericks had settled into a nice offensive rhythm that carried them down the stretch. The effort picked up and was better in the 4th, but this game should never have gotten that close in the first place.
  • Popovich still hasn’t settled on a consistent starting lineup this year and, honestly, I can’t imagine he will any time soon. It will be interesting to see how often some version of this small ball lineup gets deployed though. As the Express News’s Jeff McDonald pointed out on twitter tonight, there was this tantalizing dream of a Rudy Gay-Kawhi Leonard small ball lineup taking the league by storm last year that got derailed many things...but it’s still been very satisfying so far to see a healthy Rudy Gay be effective in that role.
  • After hitting a very pretty elbow jumper to start the game, LaMarcus had a tough time getting things going, finishing 6 of 17 from the field. He still managed to get 20 points though and, overall, I wouldn’t say that he had a bad game. Last year, if LaMarcus had a game like tonight you could almost go ahead and mark down a loss automatically, but this year it feels like that particular burden has been lifted off his shoulders. He can find other ways to affect the game via his defense or his rebounding or even just drawing attention away from DeMar. The budding partnership between those two, each one sharing the load as the pillars of this team moving forward, is so important and so far it’s been fun to see how they’re handling it.
  • DeAndre Jordan Lob dunks are probably the most infuriating opponent play in the league. They were infuriating when he was with the Clippers and they are infuriating now. They’re so physical and aggressive, but not in a way that’s aesthetically pleasing in any way. They’re just loud, like someone pulling up next to you at a traffic light and blaring music into your car that you didn’t ask to hear. It’s an alley-oop which, from a pure basketball perspective, should at least be begrudgingly fun to see in almost any context. I just can’t with his version. Did any of y’all remember that he was even on the Mavs this year? I literally forgot about it until opening tip-off tonight and it sort of freaked me out.
  • After the last game, I made a brief observation that a couple of Bryn Forbes floaters reminded me a bit of our old friend Tony Parker’s adventures into the lane. I expected a little pushback on that, which I got, but I was not expecting the number of people on here telling me that actually Bryn was more of a comp for Steph Curry. Steph Curry?!?!?!? Bryn is doing a great job running the point and I love everything about the progress he’s made each and every game this season. But Steph? Curry? On the Warriors, Steph Curry? I was just trying to playfully stoke some fun Spurs nostalgia. Steph? Come on now.

Popovich too, huh? That’s wild.