Week 8 started out rough with a 34 point loss to the Utah Jazz in Salt Lake City to be immediately followed by a heartbreaking loss to the Los Angles Lakers. But the week wasn’t over yet. The Spurs returned home and decided to return the favor, offering both teams some spicy revenge.
Week 8 - Coming home to some defense: The two road games early in week had many Spurs fans worried about the Good Guys, but the last two games have given everyone, including those on the court, some heart and hope.
Tim MacMahon, ESPN - 21 (last week: 20)
The Spurs responded to probably the most embarrassing regular-season stretch of the Gregg Popovich era -- four losses in five games, including three by at least 31 points -- with a pair of 13-point wins over quality West teams (Lakers and Jazz). The schedule gives the Spurs a chance to build a little momentum, as four games remain on a homestand that includes dates against the Suns and Bulls.
John Schuhmann, NBA.com - 20 (last week: 22)
The Spurs remain the weirdest team in the league. They rank 29th defensively, having ranked no worse than 11th in the last 21 seasons. They have a top-10 offense, even though their leading scorer -- DeMar DeRozan -- is a shooting guard who’s 6-for-35 from 3-point range. Their second leading scorer -- LaMarcus Aldridge -- has the worst effective field goal percentage (45.8 percent) among the 58 players 6-foot-10 or taller who have attempted at least 100 shots from the field. Rudy Gay ranks second in the league in 3-point percentageand they have three wins in which they’ve made five or fewer threes. They already have as many losses by 20 or more points (five) as they had in the previous three seasons combined. But they’ve rebounded from an ugly stretch and have won three straight home games (all against top-14 West teams), with four more games left on their longest homestand of the season (six games).
Khadrice Rollins, SI.com - 18 (last week: 17)
The Spurs had lost four of their last five and three straight on the road after losing to the Lakers on Wednesday. The thumping the Jazz put on San Antonio one night prior had it seeming like this team was simply too depleted to compete out West. But then the squad returned to AT&T Center.
DeMar DeRozan continued torching the Lakers like he has all season and posted his fourth 30-point game against his hometown team this season. Patty Mills, Davis Bertans and Jakob Poeltl combined with DeRozan to score 42 of San Antonio’s 44 fourth-quarter points as the Spurs picked up a 13-point win to split the series with Los Angeles.
On Sunday, San Antonio picked up another 13-point victory as DeRozan (26), Rudy Gay (23) and LaMarcus Aldridge (20) led the charge against the Jazz.
Maybe the second half of the week was just a matter of playing at home versus on the road. Maybe it was Gregg Popovich’s genius being on display as his team got revenge on two clubs it lost to earlier.
Whatever it was, it all starts and ends with DeRozan. Sure, Aldridge, Gay and Mills are all veterans with plenty of playoff experience who Popovich will lean on to right the ship when times get rough, but DeRozan is the heart of this whole operation. He’s posting the most assists per game of his career and the second-most points, but both of those marks might need to be career-bests if San Antonio is going to rise from the pack to get in the playoffs.
Reid Forgrave, CBS Sports - 20 (last week: 18)
The Spurs have won two in the row for the first time since Nov. 3. It’s still so jarring to look at the advanced stats and see a Gregg Popovich-coached team ranking next-to-last in the NBA in defensive rating, but I suppose that’s what happens when you ship off Kawhi Leonard and ship in DeMar DeRozan -- and then lose Dejounte Murray to injury.
The pundits seem to be divided on the Spurs. What do you guys think? Are the guys in Silver and Black just getting in rhythm? Is this the beginning of a new trend upwards? Let us know in the comments.