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What We Learned from the Spurs loss to the Lakers

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Should the Spurs (ahem) trade for LeBron? He seems pretty good.

San Antonio Spurs v Los Angeles Lakers Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

I don’t know what to tell you. Getting mad about the Spurs losing Tuesday's game is like getting mad that a wildebeest got caught by a lion. This is what lions do. They are living organisms put on this earth to track down prey and eat it — that’s the deal. You’re welcome to be upset that the Spurs have managed to become the wildebeest in recent years, but it would be pretty naive to be surprised or incensed by it at this point.

What LeBron James did in that 4th quarter was unreal. I’m still sitting here trying to wrap my head around it. Over the course of about three minutes, he attempted 5 three pointers and made every single one of them. The raw numbers on these shots don’t even really do them justice either. It was the casual nature with which he seemed to become engulfed in flames that leaves you just shaking your head. The Spurs had even been mounting a modest little shot at a comeback in the moments leading up to this erasure and then he just flipped a switch and it was done. The Spurs don’t have an answer for that and, to be honest, no team really does. It genuinely feels like some combination of Kawhi, Giannis, and a clone of 25 year old Bill Russell wouldn’t be able to slow him down when he gets in the zone like that.

It’s possible that I’m trafficking in hyperbole, as I’ve done before, but this was a performance that merits it. We could sit here and analyze defensive strategies and try to decode whether or not Lonnie Walker IV should’ve been playing tighter or if Jakob Poeltl switching onto LeBron James 26 feet from the basket is ever a good idea, but I don’t think that’s really the point.

This Spurs team, on the right night, has the ability to hang with the best teams in the league. We’ve seen them do it and we know they have that gear. This was decidedly not the right night. This was a night where the overall talent disparity between the franchises came to the fore and that gap is, unfortunately, significant. The Lakers are just too big and too athletic for a team like the Spurs to really be able to spark anything against them for a sustained period. I am, as a rule, more of a ‘try to make the playoffs’ type of guy as opposed to a ‘burn it all down’ one, but nights like this one leave you looking for matches. Do we really want a date with LeBron, AD, and company in April? Will that be fun? Are we having a good time?

Huge franchise altering decisions shouldn’t be made based of one quarter against a potentially great team (on the road, on a SEGABABA). One has to take a look at the bigger picture and really...I don’t know, meditate? It feels like an endless circle sometimes with this team where I desperately want them to do something to change the paradigm, but then I start thinking about the options and the good ones don’t seem realistic and the bad ones don’t seem fun and by the time I’ve checked back in on the team they’ve won two straight and I’m starting to feel cautiously optimistic again. “Trade everyone including Pop” isn’t an option. Standing pat after this season isn’t an option. Grow old with this group and hope the young guys blossom into superstars is...well, it’s an option but the doomsday clock keeps inching closer to midnight and patience isn’t something sports fans are generally known for.

You watch something like LeBron’s 4th quarter performance in this game and you realize that’s what it takes to win a championship. You need great, generational talent on your roster. Pretty simple really. The Spurs, blessed as they are, have never won a title without a Top 5 player in the league anchoring their team and I don’t think any team this side of the 2004 Detroit Pistons has. It’s a real problem and the Spurs are not alone in facing it.

The rest of this season has the potential to be very fun and very endearing. This is a good group of guys who are going to work and fight and hustle for us and they are going to win some games and they are going to make a push and we’re probably going to have a pretty good time watching them do it. Last night was a bummer though. It was a bummer and you’re allowed to take a little time to be bummed about it. That game was nothing if not a quick little reminder of this team’s place in the NBA universe and if that reminder made you feel sort of small, well, you’re not alone.

Takeaways:

  • DeMar DeRozan has been magnificent recently and he continued to be magnificent in this game. There were three or four different plays tonight where DeMar did something so effortlessly cool that I had to just get up and go take a little walk afterwards. Spurs players have done plenty of amazing things over the years, but Spurs players have almost never been described as doing something cool. This is a new thing and it’s not unwelcome as far as I’m concerned. DeMar DeRozan has flaws in his game that you’re welcome to go on Twitter and read about in the replies to pretty much anything positive said about him, but I genuinely love watching him in a Spurs jersey. It’s a delight to watch him ply his trade night after night and I’m proud that he’s doing it for us.
  • I’m willing to chalk a lot of things up to this game being a particularly tough back to back, but a significant number of the guys wearing black were very terrible at their jobs last night. LaMarcus Aldridge? I know you’re still working your way back from an injury and all that, but you just can’t be scoring seven points over 30 minutes. That’s a recipe for disaster. Patty Mills? I love you and maybe you used to be able to get away with a little 1 for 8 shooting performance here and there but, turns out, you are an incredibly important part of how this team works these days so when you’re this bad it’s suuuuuper noticebale. Derrick White? You too, bud. Single digits just isn’t going to get the job done.
  • I don’t have the stats on this, but I’m pretty sure Lonnie Walker IV has more dunks this season that have gone like 97% of the way to being the coolest thing I’ve ever seen. He always either gets fouled or pushed a little bit off his trajectory and the ball ends up slamming into the back of the rim and flying off into the sky. His athleticism is off the charts and his dunks are, hopefully, going to be incredible someday but it feels like right now he’s just out there doing rough sketches. Please don’t stop trying these absurd dunks, Lonnie. I’m begging you. Don’t let the haters get you down.
  • TIM DUNCAN FIT WATCH: Gentlemen’s Quarterly magazine (GQ) is a publication focused on fashion, style and culture. They use their platform to keep tabs on up and coming industry mavens, people making waves within the zeitgeist, and gentlemen out there in the world who just seem to embody a sense of understanding what looks good. What it’s definitely not is a place that one typically would go for news and updates about what is happening in the life of Timothy Theodore Duncan...until now. Look at our boy out there getting hyped up by a dang fashion magazine! Do they take a requisite shot at his sordid past of terrible mid ‘00s clothing choices? Obviously, they do. However, this trip down memory lane is merely a quick diversion before the Editorial Staff of GQ goes out of it’s way to drop this beautiful sentence on the world, “Count us surprised, then, that in retirement—and in his new gig as a San Antonio Spurs assistant coach—Tim Duncan is...flexing?” TIM DUNCAN IS FLEXING!!!!!!!!!! Shout it from the freakin’ rooftops that TIM. DUNCAN. IS. FLEXING! I just can’t get over it. FLEXING! What a huge day for the those of us here at TDFW headquarters. We spoke “GQ Style Icon Tim Duncan” into existence and manifested our dreams somewhere beyond the realm of imagination. This is what sports are all about. GET OUT THERE AND TELL THE WORLD ABOUT OUR FLEXIBLE, FASHIONABLE BOY!
Celebrities At The Los Angeles Clippers Game Photo by Allen Berezovsky/Getty Images