Eight. The Spurs have lost 8 games in a row, but the script for this loss was a little different, and maybe a little more hopeful. The Spurs defense, absent for most of the season, made an appearance tonight, and it was fun to see a game with some defensive stops for a change. Rudy Gay provided a third scorer to go with Aldridge and DeRozan as the Spurs fell behind and climbed back again and again. But every time the Spurs cut the lead to within a basket or two, the Sixers went on a run and once again increased the lead to double digits. This was the kind of effort that could possibly beat a bad team, but not the Sixers. Luckily for the Spurs, they play the Knicks tomorrow.
- Before the game, I told my editor that I was going to write a recap that was all shrug emojis and ‘This is fine’ memes. It wouldn’t be any worse than the team has played during the losing streak. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
- Early on, the Spurs had Bryn Forbes matched up on Tobias Harris. That’s not a good matchup.
- Pop called an early timeout when the 76ers rushed out to a 7-4 lead. I think he’s trying to be more proactive with intervening early instead of letting the guys figure it out, because they are not figuring it out. In fact, that seemed to be a pattern tonight, Pop calling an early timeout often when the Spurs missed a defensive assignment.
- Jakob Poeltl really improves the Spurs interior defense over Trey Lyles. He can’t shoot outside, but they really need defense. Plus, his spirit animal is the wombat. Wombats are cool.
- The battle between Joel Embiid and LaMarcus Aldridge was really fun to watch. LaMarcus seemed more motivated than I’ve seen him in a while.
- DeMarre Carroll seems like he’s out of Pop’s doghouse, because he’s getting minutes, and taking advantage of them with solid defensive play.
- DeMar DeRozan wanted to go after the referees after Ben Simmons drew a foul on him that appeared to be an obvious flop. I can understand his frustration, but he needs to keep his emotions under better control. Luckily, he was held back by Carroll and a few other teammates and didn’t draw a tech. He got clobbered in the paint in the fourth with no call, and it’s pretty easy to understand why he’s not happy with how the game is called.
- Rudy Gay was really good in the first half, and I wonder if he ought to play more.
- Ben Simmons passes up a lot of good shots close to the baskets, but he ends up turning those into assists with really good passing. I can’t disagree with this strategy.
- Dejounte Murray gambles too much on defense, leading to easy baskets if he misses the steal. He needs to pick his spots better. He was a really good defender before his injury, but he’s not getting it done this year.
- This has been the Spurs best defensive effort of the year. I’m not sure if it was just a good matchup tonight, but it’s actually fun to watch the opponents not score every time they get the ball.
- With all of the stars the Sixers have on their roster, their best player might be Tobias Harris, who has been a bit of a journeyman for most of his career.
- DeMar DeRozan is hard to stop when he’s engaged. He did a great job scoring in the fourth quarter.
Jakob Poeltl was in the starting lineup for the second game in a row. After a few fruitless trips down the floor, Ben Simmons scored the first points for the Sixers on a drive to the basket. The Spurs were able to keep fairly close until halfway through the quarter, the Sixers sunk four triples in a row and were up 23-10. Rudy Gay’s 6 straight helped the Spurs get back in. The Spurs played well for the rest of the quarter, but still trailed 29-22 after the first 12 minutes.
Marco Belinelli hit a three-point shot to start off the second quarter, but Sixers came right back at them with a Trey Burke jumper. The Spurs ran the ball down the court and cut the deficit to 4 on a Poeltl fast break basket. The Spurs defense looked decent through the middle of the quarter, but the Sixers were very efficient and built an 11 point lead with Al Horford doing most of the damage since Embiid was out with three fouls. Rudy Gay cut it to 7 with a 4 point play late, and that’s how it ended. Despite their better defensive effort in the second quarter, the Silver and Black ended up the quarter exactly where they started, down 7 at 59-52.
Bryn Forbes opened the third with a wide open triple to cut the deficit to four. Unfortunately, the Spurs defense fell apart again and allowed a 7-0 run to put the Sixers up double digits. The Sixers interior defense was pretty shaky and the Spurs took advantage to cut the deficit to a single point on an Aldridge jumper. But the 76ers came back with a 9-0 run and they were one again ahead by double digits. A 7-0 Spurs run sparked by DeMarre Carroll’s defensive play once again brought the Spurs back. After a few baskets from the Sixers, guess what, the Spurs deficit was again 7. After playing their best quarter of the game, they only kept pace with Philly and trailed 87-80.
James Ennis III started the fourth with a triple for Philly to once again push the lead to 10. The Spurs fought back to cut it to three, but the see saw battle continued as the Silver and Black went cold and the deficit climbed to 13. The Spurs started a hack-a-Ben strategy and it was semi-successful, as he missed free throws, but they got rebounds. The Spurs comeback was blunted when DeMar DeRozan was clobbered in the paint with no call leading to a 4 on 1 Sixer fast break to put them up 11. The Spurs cut the lead to 8 late, but a Korkmaz triple put the game out of reach. Lonnie Walker IV got to play in garbage time, and he made a nice drive to the basket, but then he missed both of his free throws, which made the home crowd happy.
I think I’ve figured out a way to get through the losing streak.
For the 76ers fan’s perspective, head over to Liberty Ballers. The Spurs are 5-11 and are in 13th, 14th ... place. I dunno, I’ve lost count. The Spurs play the Knicks in Madison Square Garden at 6:30 PM CT tomorrow. Normally, I’d feel like that should be a win for the Spurs, but a road game back to back for this team seems like it could go badly. Let’s hope the Spurs can find a win in the Big Apple.