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Power Rankings - Week 8: The Spurs are doing things the hard way

Spurs make history and remain the same.

San Antonio Spurs v Phoenix Suns Photo by Hector Vivas/Getty Images

Is it possible to make history but stay the same? The San Antonio Spurs were able to do that on Saturday when they played in Mexico City against the Phoenix Suns in their fourth overtime in a row: the first time this has been done in 50 years. The Spurs have now won three of the last four games (all overtimes) and have basically continued to follow the same path of starting slow, getting behind, and then surging in the fourth. Three out of four times it worked.

Week 8: Another short week in the books, but this one was a mixed bag. The Spurs spent most of Thursday’s game shaking off the rust after 5 days rest, but it didn’t clear up fast enough. In a third overtime, the Silver and Black came up short to a young but clearly troubled Cavaliers’ squad. Then the team hopped a plane to Mexico City to play another young team, but one making some moves in the Western Conference. The altitude of the city was affecting the guys, including Pop. But the Spurs were able to overcome and got the victory in another overtime, this time with a game winner from Patty Mills.

Last week: 1-1 (10-15) — 117-109 vs. Cavaliers (loss); 121-119 @ Suns

This week: Monday, 12/16 @ Houston Rockets; Thursday, 12/19 vs. Brooklyn Nets; Saturday, 12/21 vs. Los Angeles Clippers

Tim MacMahon, ESPN - 23 (Last Week: 19)

Lonnie Walker is taking advantage of a larger role and seems to be earning some trust from coach Gregg Popovich. Walker is averaging 21.7 minutes over the past five games, after getting double-digit minutes only twice in the first 20 games, when he had seven DNP-CDs. Walker, a 2018 first-round pick, has averaged 13.8 points on 54.2% shooting in those five games and is one of only three Spurs with a positive plus-minus (plus-10) during that span.

Michael Shapiro, - 21 (Last Week: 21)

Gregg Popovich may need a nap. The Spurs enter Monday night’s contest in Houston following four straight overtime games (an NBA record), going 3–1 in the matchups. Logging the victories is certainly a welcome sign, though the extra minutes won’t exactly help San Antonio’s crop of veteran weapons.

Colin Ward-Henninger, CBS Sports - 17 (Last Week: 16)

The Spurs must have a thing for extra basketball, as their last four games have gone to overtime. They suffered a horrific home loss to the Cavs after DeMar DeRozan missed two free throws that could have sealed the game, then beat the struggling Suns in Mexico City. The Spurs’ defense has gotten better recently, allowing just 104 points per 100 possessions over their last four games. That could foreshadow some more wins in the future.

John Schuhmann, - 18 (Last Week: 20)

As the Spurs became the first team in NBA history to play four straight overtime games, Gregg Popovich has played 11 different guys in clutch minutes. Patty Mills has been one of the constants (in more ways than one), but had struggled in the clutch (1-for-11) before hitting four big shots, including the game-winner, in their win over the Suns in Mexico City on Saturday. The Spurs won three of the four straight OT games to stay within a game of eighth place in the West, but a loss at home to the Cavs on Thursday, with a rest advantage and with DeMar DeRozan missing two free throws to ice the game in regulation, is one that could haunt them. They’ve had some better defensive games of late, but with DeRozan and LaMarcus Aldridge both 6-for-22 (27%) from mid-range this month, their five December games have been their worst five-game stretch of offense (101.4 points scored per 100 possessions) this season.

Grant Hughes, Bleacher Report - 22 (Last Week: 21)

You could pick from any number of statistical indicators explaining how this season’s Spurs are falling short of the sustained excellence they managed over the previous two decades. But one tidbit, courtesy of Jeff McDonald of the San Antonio Express News, drives the point home: Following Thursday’s loss to the Cavs, San Antonio fell to 1-4 against East teams with losing records this year.

Through the years, regardless of roster composition or style of play, one thing you could always count on from the Spurs was a take-care-of-business reliability that produced consistent success against bad teams. They’d always out-execute the league’s dregs.

Over the last five full seasons, San Antonio ran up a 150-38 mark against sub-.500 teams. Last year’s 26-15 mark was the low point, but this season’s Spurs have already dropped nine games to opponents with losing records.

If Patty Mills hadn’t saved them against the Suns on Saturday, that number could have been 10.

In keeping with the theme of a season in which nothing’s come easy, San Antonio has gone to overtime in an NBA-record four straight games.

So what do you think, Pounders? Can the Spurs keep going two steps forward, one step back? Can they maintain this record of overtime games? Let us know what you think in the comments.