When you can’t beat a team that’s trying to lose, things are probably not great. This was a bad game. A terrible, horrible, no good, very bad game.
With many of the Spurs recent losses, the general thinking has been that it will be okay because the schedule only gets easier from here. Well, guys, this was supposed to be one of those easy ones. If you aren’t going to win these either then what’s the point of all these excuses I’ve been making for you? It feels like, in spite of all the success this team has had this year, we’re right back where we were in November. There’s no fire on offense, the defense can’t stop anyone, and they just recorded a loss to a team that’s trying to tank.
Things are not great now, and the Spurs are running out of time to fix it.
- Any worry about lingering aftershocks from DeMar DeRozan’s brutal homecoming game in Toronto were assuaged pretty quickly. That’s about the only good news to come out of this game. DeMar played like there was no one on the Knicks who could guard him and that’s because there wasn’t. He got to the rim when he wanted to, his shot was falling when he needed it, and he even had a few pretty slick defensive plays. His 32 points were a bright light in the enveloping darkness at the Garden last night. He just needed a few more people to help him drag this thing across the finish line, and it never happened.
- The bench mob that was so effective the other night against Toronto was nowhere to be found here. Patty Mills had 8 points, Marco Belinelli had 8 points, Davis Bertans had 4. (I know he started instead of Derrick White tonight, but for the purposes of how I think about him he’s a bench mob guy, okay? You get to make your own rules out here on the Internet.) The Spurs game plan relies a lot on our dudes off the bench coming in and being significantly better than whatever scrubs the other side has. That’s a very specific advantage the team looks to exploit night after night, and when it doesn’t pan out it throws everything out of whack. I love snagging a cool 12 points from Jakob Poeltl as much as the next guy, but Poeltl Points need to be icing on the cake, not a whole meal.
- Speaking of Poeltl, where has he been lately? It feels like the Spurs sure could’ve used a 7 foot monster off the bench who comes in and fights for boards, plays tough defense, and weirdly facilitates cool offensive plays from time to time. The Jakob Poeltl that we saw tonight should be getting big minutes every time the Spurs take the floor and, honestly, I’m not sure why that hasn’t been the case recently. Someone could probably write a whole book about the strange uptick in Pau Gasol minutes over Poeltl minutes in the lead-up to the All-Star break. Was the front office really trying to up his trade value? Was Pau asking the coaches for more time? Did Jakob order a Cabernet Sauvignon with a light piece of fish at dinner and Popovich decided he needed to ride pine for a little bit and think about what he had done? Again, someone should write a book about what happened there. Maybe only like fifteen of us would read it, but still. Inquiring minds want to know.
- I’m glad the Spurs are taking it easy with returning White from injury, BUT I also am just desperate to not watch too many more games without him in the lineup. The Spurs are not as good when he’s on the bench and that’s just a fact of life now. “But Charlie, by being careful with his minutes the Spurs are ensuring that he doesn’t get hurt again and miss even more time.” I KNOW, STRAW MAN, this loss was just so annoying and I miss watching our sweet boy Derrick out there doing cool basketball stuff.
- There’s a good chance I’m in a bad mood about this game specifically because it got called out on a world stage during the Oscars telecast. I was hoping that maybe this little loss would be able to slip under everyone’s radar because all the attention would be focused elsewhere but then, lo and behold, everyone got to have a good laugh at our expense thanks to Sam Jackson going off script and ribbing Spike Lee a little bit. Ha. Ha. Ha. What a devastating turn of events. What’s the point of being a boring, small market team if people are going to still get some jokes off at you during fancy movie parties?
- MARCO WATCH: Belinelli missed the whole dang rim on a three point attempt tonight. The whole rim! How? This wasn’t even an air-ball either, no, this shot rocketed right on past the rim and slammed into the far right side of the backboard. Do you know how badly you’d have to calibrate the physics of your jump shot to miss by that much? A significant amount. This wasn’t even that crazy of a shot by Marco standards. Like, he wasn’t falling out of bounds, he didn’t have a defender inside his jersey, he hadn’t decided to only use one hand for no reason. He just came off a screen on the far side, ran around the arc like he usually does, caught the ball and fired away. Simple. I talk a lot about how it seems like Marco is maybe playing an entirely different game out there than the rest of his peers and, now, I’m starting to suspect that it’s possible that he’s literally playing a different game that’s happening in some parallel universe at the same time as this one. Maybe . . . just maybe . . . the basket Marco was shooting at was one we can’t see and couldn’t possibly even conceive of? Eh? Go with me on this. What makes more sense to you, that a professional basketball player known for his three point shooting ability all of a sudden forgot where the basket was OR our resident weirdo known for his unusual shooting form and zany shot selection is actually an inter-dimensional traveler whose corporeal form has gotten unstuck from its original plane of existence and is now locked in battle with an unseen foe that he must defeat before he can return home? The evidence is right there, you guys. You just have to look . . .