That was more like it.
We’re going to go ahead and bring it up right now and then never think about it ever again. Okay, you ready? On February 24th, 2019, the San Antonio Spurs lost to the New York Knicks in embarrassing fashion. The Spurs are a better team than the Knicks. They have more talent. They have more experience. They certainly have more incentive to win basketball games in this calendar year. That loss on February 24th came near the tail end of a truly brutal stretch of performances that drove all but the most blissfully unaware Spurs fans right up to the brink of throwing the towel all the way in on what had previously been a pretty fun season. I mean...a loss to the Knicks? The shame. The horror.
Things are better now. The Spurs have now won a cool seven games on the bounce and look to have regained their footing in the Western Conference playoff race. This very website is comfortable enough in that position that we’ve seen fit to go ahead and jinx the whole operation. What a remarkable turn of events. February 24th is but a distant memory and we can all now move on with our lives.
Under normal circumstances, the performance the Spurs put up on Friday would not really matter. This was a more talented team beating a less talented team. This was a group of guys doing what it was supposed to do. It was a game that was neither too close to be interesting or too much of a rout to be notable. This win simply was what it was. The natural order of things.
However, in context with that ugly February night back in Manhattan, this otherwise unimportant matchup presented itself as an interesting benchmark of sorts. The Spurs had shown plenty of progress since the last time they saw the Knicks, but what does any of that progress even mean if they still couldn’t figure out how to solve this particular rubix cube? A standard for all good teams, across any sport, is the ability to take care of business against teams that are worse than you. The Spurs needed this win in order to show that all this progress wasn’t merely fool’s gold.
Ladies and Gentlemen, the results are in and the news is good. The Spurs are who we thought they were:
A team capable of beating the New York Knicks.
- This was a professional performance from the Spurs all around. They steadily got out to a lead early, built on it as the game went along, and never really looked bothered as they pulled further away near the end. The pessimist in me was looking at the schedule and thinking, “Boy, they sure are due for a loss any minute around here” and this game seemed like the perfect opportunity for everyone to show up unfocused and lazy. I’m so happy that for at least one night I was able to tell that pessimist to go take a hike.
- Nothing that happened in this game basketball wise is as interesting to me as Jakob Poeltl striding out to center court for tip-off looking like a full on tomato. He even had the little lines on his temples from wearing what I have to assume are extremely boss sunglasses. What an iconic look from the big man. Can you even imagine playing an NBA game with that bad of a sunburn? I don’t even think I’d be able to get out of bed, much less go out there and spend 26 minutes having to wrestle with DeAndre Jordan. Then, as a cherry on top of all this, he goes ahead and almost snags a double-double and generally just looks like the most energetic guy on the floor. A heroic night all around from Jakob.
- No one on the Spurs roster scored more than 20 points, the team as a whole only made seven threes, and still they were able to scrounge up 109 total points on the night. I don’t totally know what to do with that information but I like to think it further indicates something we’ve all grown to know and love about the 2018-19 San Antonio Spurs: by hook or by crook, these guys can get buckets. They can get them from their stars, they can get them the deepest reaches of their bench, or they can have Marco Belinelli pull something weird together using some old bubblegum and string he found in his pocket. One way or another, the Spurs can find a myriad of different ways to score and I just have to think that’s going to be a valuable skillset come playoff time when everyones Options A, B and C go right out the window.
- MARCO WATCH: When one attempts to understand the way that Marco attacks the game of basketball, you must think about it in similar terms to the way a Jaguar stalks its prey. There is a natural grace, athleticism, and beauty to be sure, but there is also a base, unexplainable instinct that drives each and every movement to culminate in a desired outcome. A Jaguar on the prowl is doing something basic and fundamental, something that’s coded into its DNA dating back thousands of years. Marco, too, must enter into a similar sort of sort of primal fugue state that allows him to let his body take him where he needs to go. Watch this series of events from the 3rd quarter on Friday night. He catches the ball out on the corner and immediately, without hesitation or thought, puts the ball up into the air with both hands. A “pump fake” in the broadest sense, but look me in the eyes and tell me there is any discernible attempt at real shooting form there. You can’t. This is not a man doing a basketball move, this is simply a man whose body is at one with the universe. As he begins to drive, he does not in any way attempt a direct line to the basket. Instead he moves in more in a half moon shape, as if tapping into some unseen gravitational force in order to slingshot himself up into a beautiful little scoop layup/reverse summersault finish. Is any of this necessary? Could he have just done a regular layup without falling down? I’ll let the scholars waste their time debating those questions. All I can tell you is that this play is a masterclass in instinctive motion put on by one of the foremost purveyors of such maneuvers this league has ever seen and I feel humbled to have borne witness to it here.