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What We Learned from the Spurs loss to the Lakers

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The Spurs get a frustrating reminder that one win against the Knicks doesn’t solve every problem.

Los Angeles Lakers v San Antonio Spurs Photos by Logan Riely/NBAE via Getty Images

This one was pretty straightforward. I mean, we can all agree that the Los Angeles Lakers are a better team than the New York Knicks, right? We’ve collected enough data at this point and we can probably call that particular fight. So, taking that into consideration, what did we suppose was going to happen Monday night? That all of a sudden the Spurs’ various flaws would be smoothed over? That the new and improved squad would go out there and put the clamps on the high flying Lakers for 48 minutes? We should know better.

I imagine that most of you are like me in that you had the tiniest, faintest glimmer of hope that the win against the Knicks on Saturday would serve as the official jump off for the new look Spurs and, in a perfect world, against a different opponent, maybe that could’ve been the case. Maybe they could’ve built on a nice little performance and rolled it over into one that was incrementally better. Perhaps that would’ve lead to bit of a confidence boost and maybe a few bounces start going their way. In this magical basketball utopia, the Spurs would’ve been able to gradually work their way out of this unfortunate malaise that’s hijacked the early part of the season and rounded into fighting shape before squaring off against a top tier team like the Lakers.

Instead, our boys were tossed into the deep end and it went about as you would expect. The result notwithstanding, there were actually a decent amount of things to like in this one. Everyone was competing and working hard. DeMar DeRozan and LaMarcus Aldridge were aggressive all night and did a good job of holding their own against the star power in Purple & Gold. Guys were shooting, and sometimes even making, threes and for most of the game this looked like a pretty even matchup. It all seemed a little too good to be true and, in the end, that proved to be correct. The Lakers kept pushing and the the Spurs kept bending and they bent and they bent and they bent. When it all finally snapped in the 4th quarter, it almost felt like it’d been inevitable the whole time.

The Lakers just have too much and the Spurs just have too little. On their best night (and this was pretty close to “best” if we’re being honest with ourselves) the Spurs still need the star talent on a team like the Lakers to not play up to their highest level. They need to force them to make mistakes, get them uncomfortable, and capitalize on every single opportunity. As many people have discussed on this site ad nauseam, this version of the Spurs simply don’t have the personnel to pull off that kind of heist and until something significant changes, we’re going to keep seeing results like this.

I feel like a broken record, and believe me, I would love nothing more than to sit here discussing literally anything else. We could be singing the praises of Bryn Forbes‘ thrilling three point barrage or marveling at Dejounte Murray squaring up Rajon Rondo or even just figuring out what exactly is happening with DeMarre Carroll’s funky shooting stroke, but stuff like that feels irrelevant at the moment. The little things just don’t seem fun in the same way when you don’t get the impression that we know where the team is going. Are we a plucky crew of upstarts who might catch people by surprise on the wrong night? Are we some wily veterans that you have to take seriously? Are we bottoming out? Are we trying to win? WHAT IS HAPPENING?

The win on Saturday against the Knicks was obviously a nice change of pace from all the losing, but Monday night was an important reminder that there is no easy fix to whatever is ailing the Spurs right now. Real things need to change, both big and small. Whatever is happening is not working and the sooner the team gets started fixing it the better.

Takeaways:

  • The absolute best highlight of the Spurs season so far was DeMar DeRozan’s obscene 360 dunk that he threw down sometime in the 2nd quarter of this game. It was thunderous, it was graceful, it was powerful, it was beautiful. It also, of course, didn’t count. Dejounte was called for a moving screen, I think? I’m not sure, it was hard to focus on what the call was exactly when I was too busy trying to figure out if DeMar had just given me the ability to taste colors.
  • Bryn Forbes had himself a really nice few quarters tonight. Through the first couple of frames it felt like he could almost do no wrong. He was 5 of 9 nine from the field, he hit 3 from beyond the arc, and even made a few pretty incredible defensive plays. Much like the rest of the Spurs, the wheels kind of came off once the 4th quarter rolled around but, still, it felt encouraging to see him out there being aggressive and having some shots fall.
  • You guys remember that time that Dejounte Murray got the ball near mid court on a fast break and went charging on towards the basket and it looked like it was going to be awesome and then LeBron James flew in out of nowhere and swatted it into the backboard? You remember how, right after that, the Lakers took the ball down the court and KCP nailed a wide open three at the buzzer to close their deficit to one point at the half? You guys remember that? That was, uh...well, that really stunk. #analysis
  • I know we live in 2019 where there are no rules and everyone just does whatever they want all the time without any consequences, but can I just say that I really, really dislike it when the Spurs wear their black jerseys at home? It’s so disorienting and weird and it makes no sense. The court has large swaths of black on it and our players just disappear in and out of it all the time which is like the all time dumbest trick to play on people like, let’s say — the fans, who are trying follow along on TV. It’s illogical! Don’t tell me it’s about selling jerseys because there are plenty of times for them to wear these black jerseys on courts that are 35% black. We have three other looks we can wear at home. THREE. DOESN’T ANYONE NOTICE THIS? I FEEL LIKE I’M TAKING CRAZY PILLS.
  • TIM DUNCAN FIT WATCH: It’s so important to me that Timmy isn’t trying to fade into the background over there on the bench. It would be so simple for him to just lock into a routine with drab colors and go about his business leaving all of us TD Fit Heads out to dry, but instead he continues to go in for bold, bright color combinations that feel tasteful and striking without being outlandish or distracting. His outfit from Monday’s game catches your eye even if you aren’t looking for it. It’s a bluebird descending down upon crooked tree branch outside your window. It’s a clear, fresh mountain stream bursting through the all encompassing neutralness of the forrest. Tim is not making a “power” statement with this look by any means. Instead, he’s calmly affirming himself in the world and celebrating the inherent gift of his own uniqueness. A+
Los Angeles Lakers v San Antonio Spurs Photos by Logan Riely/NBAE via Getty Images