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What we learned from the Spurs trouncing of the Magic

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San Antonio scores many points in victory over a lottery team.

NBA: Orlando Magic at San Antonio Spurs Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports

After a grueling three game stretch, game #68 gave the Spurs a much needed opportunity to collectively catch their breath. 2018 has been a humbling year thus far in the Alamo city. Our beloved Spurs, who are fighting for their playoff lives, are a staggering 13-18 this calendar year. Since January 19th, they went 7-14. Those are eye popping numbers for an organization who hasn’t missed the playoffs since the Clinton administration.

After starting the day out as the 10 seed, the Spurs came out firing against the Magic and are still in the thick of the playoff race.

Here are some takeaways from a refreshing night of basketball.

Observations:

  • After a few nights off, LaMarcus Aldridge had a solid night of work. When his legs are fresh, it’s been just about impossible to slow him down. The biggest difference I’ve seen in his game this season is how effective he’s been backing his man down. His aggressiveness on the block has made him a far more dynamic scorer in his third year with the club. He’s no longer relying on contested jumpers for the bulk of his shot attempts, and it has made him a much more efficient, and confident player.
  • Dejounte Murray continues to make strides nearly every time he takes the floor.

As aggravating as this season has been for the organization and Spurs fans alike, Murray’s development has been a rare positive. The young point guard knifed his way through an atrocious Magic backcourt Tuesday night, and turned some heads in the process. What I love about watching #5 play is his tenacity. Dejounte is a competitor, and although there are moments that leave you scratching your head after a bad pass or an ill advised shot, you can always count on this kid to bring it.

  • I really like what Tony Parker has brought to the table in the past 4 or 5 games. His calming presence and the energy that he brings to the lineup will be huge moving forward. As TP9 continues to turn it on late in the year once again, an interesting dynamic to keep an eye on will be how he adjusts to playing without a dominate wing scorer by his side for one of the first times in his storied career.
  • Rudy Gay is an incredibly important part of this basketball team. His ability to break down a defense and create offensively provides the Spurs with a scoring punch on the perimeter that they have desperately needed this season. Enev if the Klaw does not make it back this season, it’s evident that the coaching staff have given the veteran scorer the green light.
  • It hasn’t happened often this year, but when Danny Green and Patty Mills are connecting from deep, this team is a lot of fun to watch. It’s been a bit of a tough year for the sharp-shooting duo, as they’ve been out of their comfort zones offensively and have not been able to count on the opportunities they’ve grown accustomed to in the past 6 seasons due to Kawhi’s absence. Despite the subpar results in the team’s last few outings, the offense showed improvement; we will see if these two can continue it.
  • One of the more intriguing story lines moving forward, as the team awaits their franchise player’s hopeful return, will be Kyle Anderson’s return to the second unit. SLOWMO’s versatility has carried the Spurs through stretches this season, and it is exciting to envision what a second unit with him, Manu Ginobili, and Mills will look like.
  • Pau Gasol’s ability to finish at the rim off of pick and rolls was severely missed during his brief absence from the lineup. The Spaniard’s soft touch from 5 feet out collapses the defenses and opens things up out on the perimeter. We saw this on a number of possessions and it put the Magic’s defense on skates. If the Silver and Black are going to make a run to close out the season, they’re going to need every ounce of production they can get from the veteran 7-footer.