The San Antonio Spurs’ 2019-2020 season has been one riddled with questions and inconsistency, but there have been flashes of brilliance and hope for the future throughout. This week saw the Spurs win two tough road games - one of those being the much hyped return of Zion Williamson. However, the Spurs also lost two home games - one a revenge game and the other played with an extremely heavy heart. The NBA lost one of its living legends on Sunday with the death of Kobe Bryant and the Spurs and Raptors had to play a game (several other games around the league were cancelled but not the one where the news had the least amount of time to be processed by players).
Week 14: Because of the emotion involved, I’m going to go backwards this week. On Sunday, the Spurs and Raptors met for the last time this season. The Spurs were hoping to repeat the last win versus the Raptors, but tragedy changed the game. One hour before tip-off, ESPN announced that Kobe Bryant, his 13-year old daughter Gianna and 7 others were killed in a helicopter accident that morning. The players, coaches and announcers were visibly upset (I just about died sobbing when I saw Becky Hammon and Tim Duncan crying on the sidelines after the moment of silence). Despite other games being cancelled around the league, this game went on - starting with two 24-second shot clock violations in tribute to Bryant. It was understandable that neither team played with much heart, but difference was that the Raptors’ shots were going in. In the end, though, the Spurs put on a valiant effort, but just couldn’t pull off the final comeback. On Friday, the Suns came to town to play the last game of the season versus the Spurs. After narrowly losing the previous two games, the Suns came to town to get some revenge and a win. The Spurs went cold in the 2nd and couldn’t seem to break it open, losing by 4 points (the biggest margin of their series).
However, the week started off well with two good road wins. The Spurs managed to throw a wet towel on the debut of Zion Williamson. What got little notice after the game (with all the analysts instead focusing on the two minutes when Williamson went nuclear) was the stellar play of LaMarcus Aldridge. The first road win of the week was versus the Phoenix Suns, in a game where Bryn Forbes shot lights out and Derrick White, Dejounte Murray, and Lonnie Walker IV had strong showings.
Last week: 2-2 (20-25) — 120-118 @ Suns; 121-117 @ Pelicans; 103-99 vs. Suns (loss); 110-106 vs. Raptors (loss)
Tim MacMahon, ESPN - 15 (Last Week: 17)
Guard Derrick White, who looked like a potential building block during the 2019 playoffs, has flashed some of that form recently. He has scored in double figures in five consecutive games for only the second time this season. White has averaged 15 points and 5.6 assists off the Spurs’ bench in that span, highlighted by a season-high 25-point, seven-assist performance in a win over the Suns.
Michael Shapiro, SI.com - N/A (Last Week: 16)
Colin Ward-Henninger, CBS Sports - 15 (Last Week: 18)
Marco Belinelli: Everyone loves a hired gun, and that’s pretty much the definition of Belinelli’s career. Plenty of contenders would welcome his shooting, and he’s on a very movable $5.8M expiring contract. Some NBA fans want to see the Spurs go big and try to deal DeMar DeRozan or LaMarcus Aldridge, but Belinelli moving seems more likely.
John Schuhmann, NBA.com - 15 (Last Week: 15)
The most consistent team of the last 22 seasons has been one of the most inconsistent teams of this one. The Spurs had their first three-game winning streak since the first three games of the season, scoring 117.6 points per 100 possessions with six guys averaging double-figures. But it came to an end when they shot 5-for-25 from 3-point range and combined with the Suns to score just 106 per 100, four nights after the same two teams combined to score 121 per 100.
With their losses to the Suns and Raptors over the weekend, the Spurs are 12-12 at the AT&T Center, just one defeat shy of the most they’ve had at home in a season since they drafted Tim Duncan in 1997. Their two home games this week are the last ones before the annual rodeo trip that takes them past the All-Star break.
Grant Hughes, Bleacher Report - 16 (Last Week: 17)
DeMar DeRozan’s scoring binge was the most obvious side effect of LaMarcus Aldridge’s increased three-point volume, but the open lanes created by his gunning have also sparked one of the best stretches of Derrick White’s season.
He rattled off a season-high 25 points in last Monday’s 120-118 win over Phoenix and has scored in double figures in five straight games. Lacking craft or much of a start-and-stop game off the dribble, White excels when he can attack in straight lines. Those lines are now unobstructed by help defenders glued to Aldridge inside the arc.
Collectively, San Antonio has hit at least 14 threes five times since Christmas. It made 14 or more treys just nine times all of last season.
The Spurs (2-2 this week) are just 6-7 in January, but there’s no denying the product looks better with this modernized offense.
It’s been a roller coaster of emotions this week. How are we feeling, Pounders?