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San Antonio vs Atlanta: Final Score: Spurs lose on a late game dagger, 121-120

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The Silver and Black snatch defeat from the jaws of victory against an Atlanta team that seems to have their number.

NBA: Atlanta Hawks at San Antonio Spurs Scott Wachter-USA TODAY Sports

Rudy Gay was out for the evening and the Spurs started slow, but in the end Trae Young and the Atlanta Hawks were able to steal another win from a San Antonio team that entered the final frame up by double digits. It was messy game in which the two teams combined for 34 turnovers, and San Antonio’s inconsistent efforts ultimately led to the defeat. It was an ugly last-second loss for a team that had recently upended a number of talented teams, appearing to turn the corner over the last two weeks.

Observations

  • The Spurs three point woes continued as they went 1-8 in the first quarter and 4-17 in the first half. They were able to make up for it a bit in the second half, but they still ended the game shooting 21.4% from deep, while Atlanta (the NBA’s worst long-distance shooting team) hit just shy of 48% on 40 shots from distance.
  • Turnovers were one of the major issues afflicting the Spurs in the first half, and they had eight in the first two frames. Though he wasn’t statistically the worst offender, Dejounte Murray made a number of questionable and rushed decisions that led to a variety of offensive issues. He slowed it down a bit in the second half, but it has become abundantly clear that this team (and especially the starting lineup) cannot keep up offensively when DJ’s play-making runs to the wild side.
  • Despite Gay’s absence, DeMarre Carroll was nowhere to be seen as one of the most confounding mysteries of the regular season reared its ugly head yet again. Apart from an overdose of Marco Belinelli minutes in the opening stretch of the season, almost nothing has bothered me more than this. I don’t usually have a problem with the lack of transparency from San Antonio’s front office, but this is becoming a glaring exception. If only R.C. Buford would return my hundreds of voicemails. I just want to talk. /s
  • A mixture of no-calls and a lack of interior drives led to a not insignificant discrepancy in free throws in the first half, as San Antonio earned only four to Atlanta’s twelve. As bad as both teams’ defensive play was, the difference was a bit mystifying. The trend reversed in the 3rd quarter, as the Spurs looked to penetrate things evened out a bit.
  • I can’t say enough about how tremendous DeMar DeRozan’s play has been on the offensive end. He kept San Antonio in it, even contributing defensively in the fourth quarter, and ended the night with 25/9/9 stat-line as he extended his 20pt + 50% steak to 13 games. Unfortunately it wasn’t enough, but it wasn’t for a lack of effort on DeRozan’s part.

Game Flow

A common occurrence this season, the Spurs came out looking a bit sluggish, and fell behind as both the offense and the defense seemed out of sorts for the the first ten minutes of the game. A final burst of energy from San Antonio made it look respectable at the end of the quarter, thanks to an equally error-prone Atlanta defense and offense, as they came out of the 1st only down by two points (29-27).

Unfortunately, San Antonio promptly forgot about their late 1st quarter burst and reverted to their previous form, allowing Atlanta (riding a wave of made threes and points off of turnovers) to build gradually build a lead as San Antonio displayed the kind of tightness you’d have expected from them against the last two weeks gauntlet of Eastern Conference powers while authoring a shooting performance that would have drawn side-eye from Stevie Wonder. Once again they came to life near the end of the quarter, but this time their furious attempt to even things up came to no avail as they ended the half down by nine points (67-58).

Fortunately the Spurs came out looking a lot more focused to open the second half, and managed to gradually dig their way out of the deficit with the heady sort of play that had been missing in the previous half, using a variety designed plays for LaMarcus Aldridge (including a trailing three-pointer) to even things back up just before the mid-point. After that, San Antonio seemed to remember that they were the more talented team, as they (and in particular DeRozan) detonated in the latter half of the third quarter to go up by as much as fifteen points, and ultimately end the third up 99-88.

Things got a bit sloppy in the fourth quarter, as the Spurs found themselves haunted by the fourth quarters woes of the early season, letting Atlanta sneak back into the game, and eventually steal the entire game with a dagger three from newly affirmed Spurs Killer, Kevin Huerter.

Theme Song of the Evening:


For the Hawk fans’ perspective, visit Peach Tree Hoops.

The Spurs return to the AT&T Center on Sunday to take on the Miami Heat at 2:00 PM CT. Unlike tonight, hopefully they can exact some revenge then.