A win is a win is a win, I guess.
Why have the Suns managed to play the Spurs so well this year? The 20 point loss they handed to the Silver & Black back in November still haunts my dreams and this one will stand as one of the weirder down to the wire games we’ve seen all season. There’s no way to dance around the fact that the Suns, while loaded with young talent, are in a dogfight for worst record in the league and came into this game on an 8 game losing streak. The Spurs have designs on being a team that makes some noise this postseason. A matchup with the Suns shouldn’t be this close and the fact that it was means something went wrong on Tuesday.
I’m not saying something is wrong with the Spurs, per se, but this game was not them playing at peak performance. In spite of the close score, the proceedings had a weird casual nature to them. It was almost like a pre-season game. The intensity, even in the final moments, just wasn’t there. Marco just straight up had the ball ripped out of his hands for a breakaway dunk with 20 seconds left. How does that happen?
Don’t get me wrong, I had a great time watching the boys just throw caution to the wind and let it fly from beyond the arc. In the moment, it was exhilarating to see Bryn Forbes play a little hero ball and Patty Mills save lost possessions with a dagger from deep. Davis Bertans seemed like he was on a personal John Wick-style mission to get revenge for his three point contest snub. His three with 30 seconds left was the encapsulation everything we’ve always thought Davis could be for us and it’s amazing to see him own a moment like that.
In the cold light of day though, we have to ask ourselves . . . what are the Spurs doing shooting 34 threes? Who are these people? It was great to see Davis hit 5 from deep, but he also missed 7 from out there. That’s a lot of failed possessions. This team has showed itself to be more than capable of scoring crazy amount of points this year without having to launch copious amounts of three pointers because they play smart and efficient offense. The Spurs had moments of that in this game, but too often it felt like they settled for the easy way out.
I’m happy that they managed to escape with a win, but there’s a part of me that wishes they didn’t get away with it. The Spurs played lazy offense and even lazier defense in this game. They were out-rebounded and they turned the ball over too many times. Frankly, they got out hustled by the Suns at almost every turn and they managed to survive because LaMarcus Aldridge is the living embodiment of a double-double right now and because Rudy Gay was put on this earth to hit mid-range jumpers right in people’s faces. The Spurs got away with one tonight.
I just hope they know it.
- I’m extremely happy that Rudy got to drain the game winner though. What a great moment for a guy who has really had a great year for the Spurs. Before he came to San Antonio, it always seemed like Rudy was a bit of a punching bag for people who talked about the NBA. He was an inefficient scorer or he got injured too often or he was simply a bad contract weighing down one team or another. I remember the Spurs signing him and thinking to myself “. . . but why?” He is now as indispensable as anyone on the team and honestly one of my favorite players to watch. Funny how that works out. It was cool to see the bench run out and literally mob Rudy after he hit that shot, but I also was 100% confident they were going to like, I don’t know, step on his ankle or give him a concussion and he was going to have to sit out like three weeks or something. The whole celebration should’ve been a joyous occasion and instead it sort of made me hyperventilate a little. Maybe I’m the one who needs to calm down.
- I have nothing new or interesting to say about LaMarcus Aldridge other than he is a beautiful mountain of a man and I appreciate all of the work he’s doing.
- This is not a game that we will sing songs about over at the Ball Movement Hall of Fame, but there was this one transition bucket at the end of the 1st quarter that really hit all of the pleasure centers in my brain. Marco Belinelli came up with a steal under the basket down on one end and then jumped up in the air to launch a soccer throw in style cross court pass to Mills who then whipped it back across the face of a Suns’ defender to Dante Cunningham who came through to hammer it home. This is about as good as it gets.
- Derrick White is an incredible finisher at the rim. He comes around screens like a freight train and charges towards the basket fully confident that he’s going to be able to muscle his way through things and, the thing is, he’s usually right. He’s capable of monster dunks, for sure, but he pairs his strength with impeccable touch at times that make for some really nice little baskets here and there.
- MARCO WATCH: I spend a lot of time glorifying the exploits of Marco in this space because, frankly, Marco’s exploits are almost always worth glorifying. He’s an impish rouge of a player who also happens to be scoring at an incredible rate right now. He’s scored in double digits in 9 of the last 10 games he’s played. No longer is he merely a firebrand used by the coach to come in off the bench and provide a spark before returning to his slumber. No, Marco is a key part of what makes the Spurs tick. He’s not putting up numbers against the other teams scrubs during some off minutes in the 2nd and 3rd quarter, he’s out there in crunch time. When the Spurs need a lineup that is designed to get buckets, Marco is in a lot of those lineups! This is a great development for us Marco Watchers out there. However, with that power comes great responsibility which means that today we must use this space to acknowledge . . . the turnover. Up 2 with 24 seconds left, all the Spurs needed to do was catch an inbounds pass, make some free throws, and escape off into the night. Marco had one job to do and when the ball came to him . . . he failed in his task. Two players swarmed him, knocked the ball out of his hands, and sprinted down the court to tie the game up. You hate to see that. But maybe we can learn from this. You wouldn’t hire Picasso paint the wall of your house blue, right? You wouldn’t expect a wild wolf to run out and grab the paper for you in the morning would you? Simple, mortal tasks like catching an inbounds pass are so foreign to a man of Marco Belinelli’s proclivities that you have to wonder whether or not this is really everyone’s fault BUT Marco’s. I know I do.