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What We Learned from the Spurs win over the Nets

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A late third-quarter surge pushes San Antonio past Brooklyn in regulation.

NBA: Brooklyn Nets at San Antonio Spurs Daniel Dunn-USA TODAY Sports

San Antonio finally strung together a relatively drama-free fourth quarter for the first time in over two weeks. The Spurs played an NBA record four consecutive overtime games and nearly extended their streak against Houston on Monday, but Thursday night there was no such threat of an extra period.

The Nets came into the matchup with their star-studded trio of Kyrie Irving, Kevin Durant, and Caris LeVert banged up, and unfortunately, added David Nwaba to their ever-growing list of injured players. Despite being shorthanded, backup point guard Spencer Dinwiddie continued his All-Star-level play pouring in a career-high 41 points.

Brooklyn led for the majority of the contest, but a late third-quarter surge and a stout defensive effort saw the Silver and Black take their first lead. From there, the good guys cruised to victory. And that’s kind of a big deal considering how they’ve closed games this season.

Takeaways:

  • I asked this question a few days ago, and I’ll ask it again. Where would the Spurs be without Patty Mills? San Antonio’s sixth man stepped up in a huge way against Brooklyn, knocking down 7 three-pointers on his way to a team-high 27 points. This isn’t the first time the Aussie has stepped up to the plate either. He hit the game-winner against Phoenix in overtime on Saturday and has consistently provided a spark of the bench game in and game out. Patty is now the Spurs third-leading scorer and the NBA’s 13th most accurate three-point shooter.
  • The Spurs came out flat, and the Nets opened the game on a 12-2 run that forced Pop and crew to play catch-up for most of the outing. It was another slow start by the Silver and Black, and this sort of sluggish performance to kick off the proceedings won’t fly against better teams. San Antonio has implemented a variety of starting lineups, but they’ve yet to trot out a consistently effective group. Bryn Forbes has stuck out like a sore thumb during his shooting slump, and teams have attacked the undersized guard on the other end. Although he can be useful in spurts, it may be time to relegate the three-point specialist to the second unit.
  • Marco Belinelli had a sneakily mediocre game for the Spurs. While the thirteen-year pro came up with a timely steal down the stretch and scored a season-high 11 points, his shot selection was poor, and virtually everyone he guarded blew by him with ease. Beli was the first shooting guard off the bench, and he also started the second half. Gregg Popovich has always favored veterans for their knowledge of the system, but his preference for past-their-prime players hasn’t helped San Antonio so far this season. Although Lonnie Walker IV shot a ghastly 1-of-7 from the field, his potential to impact the game with his defense and athleticism should warrant replacing Marco in the rotation. The team played its best ball against Brooklyn with Walker on the court in what’s becoming to regular a thing to be a coincidence.
  • Holy Blockob Poeltl has our Austrian center been magnificent at protecting the rim as of late. Big Yak blocked three more shots Thursday night and altered plenty of other looks near the basket. The big man is second in the league in blocks per 100 possessions over his last 9 games, and his contributions don’t end on the defensive side of the ball. His 89 screen assists and 208 screen assist points are both top 20 in the association. Despite playing somewhat sparingly for an organization in need of defenders at every position, Jakob Poeltl has made the most of every minute he’s had on the court.
  • San Antonio is a better team when their young athletic guards spend more time on the floor and less time on the bench, and that proved to be true once again in the Spurs victory over the Brooklyn Nets. Dejounte Murray and Derrick White scored in double digits in the same game for just the fourth time this season, and they did so without obstructing one another. Of course, that part was easy to accomplish as they spent exactly ZERO minutes playing together, but that’s another conversation for another day. White and Murray made life difficult for opposing ballhandlers, and they both racked up 3 steals and retrieved 2 loose balls. Now imagine the disruptive defensive prowess of a Derrick/Dejounte/Lonnie backcourt.