It was the best of times, it was the worst of times. I don’t know who wrote that. I probably should, but I don’t. What I do know is that it’s a very well known line and that it sums up tonight’s game for the San Antonio Spurs perfectly.
Coming into the game I did not know what to expect. There were so many variables going on, it was impossible to make heads or tails of anything. The Houston Rockets had just traded James Harden away and their incoming players were not available yet. The remaining 9 healthy players had plenty of motivation after being thrown under the bus by the aforementioned Harden.
As for the Spurs do we ever really know what to expect? Which team were we gonna get? The one that beat the Lakers and Clippers back to back on the road or the team that scored a measly 88 points against Minnesota? With this years Spurs you never can tell.
It turns out we got a little bit of everything. A buffet of basketball if you will. We got some less than stellar defense to start the game that gave way to highlight reel defense in the second and third quarters. We got young players stepping up and carrying the load through the first three quarters, then the vets coming through for the first 10 minutes of the 4th. We had big early deficits, spirited comebacks, poised play, and eventually an unsatisfying finish.
I truly don’t know what to expect from this team. We all knew this was supposed to be a rebuilding year with the playoffs a definite maybe, only in the case that all the “what ifs” came through. Even with a 6-6 record, there have been a lot more highs than lows. This team gets your hopes up enough to think that the rebuilding process might be much shorter than we expected. That the good times might be here already, and there are good times, but it’s still a process.
It is easy to get frustrated when your team loses games they should win. What we have to remember is that going into this season there weren’t really any sure victories for this team. Success was all theoretical from a small sample size in last season’s playoff bubble. We thought they might be able to continue it but there was always the doubt in the back of our minds. Success for this season was more of a hope than expectation.
What we have to remember is that this is still a work in progress. There will be times when they win 4 out of 5 games and raise your expectations, but there will also be times where they underperform against teams putting rosters together with string and duct tape. There will be times you think the sky is the limit and there will be times it all seems to be crashing down around you. There will be times you feel like the wrong guys are playing at the wrong times. There will be times you question why you keep watching. It will be drive you mad. It will make you drop to your knees and want to cry. I get it. I know why you cry, but I will not say: do not weep; for not all tears are an evil. Stay strong my friends.
- Let’s get the bad out of the way, I hesitate to say bad because he has been so good all season, but Patty Mills was not good this game. He only shot 3/10 and only hit 1 three on 7 attempts. Plus he was too small on defense tonight. One time specifically I remember Sterling Brown (at least I think that’s his name) driving on Patty, slowing up, then just bodying him out of the way for an easy layup. There’s a reason why he’s only a sixth man. Size does matter.
- Speaking of easy layups. The Rockets had several of them tonight. It seemed like each and every time they drove they scored. I don’t think the Spurs cut off even 1 drive to the hoop. In addition to the poor perimeter play they don’t have a shot blocker on the inside. I shudder to see how many paint points the Rockets had tonight or what their shot percentage was on drives.
- On the other hand the Rockets had Christian Wood manning the middle and he made a huge difference. He blocked 3 shots, and altered many more. The Spurs wanted no part of him on defense. If I ever see another one-handed, push shot from 7 feet again it will be too soon.
- The young fellas sure showed up tonight didn’t they? Devin Vassell made the most of his minutes by scoring 12 points on 4/6 shooting while recording 3 steals. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, he is always in the right position to make a play and I can’t wait to see him develop further.
- I have personally been a little hard on Lonnie Walker IV, but tonight he played very well. He had 16 points and hit 4/7 from downtown. It would have been nice to see him playing at the end with the game on the line. Oh well, maybe next time.
- Dejounte Murray always helps his team out in some way. He only hit 5/12 shots, but he rebounded well with 8 boards. He passed well with 7 assists, while also defending to a high level with 5 steals to count. He might not ever be a consistent 20 point scorer, but if he continues to do all the other things he wont have to be. I’m not saying he’s on that level, but he reminds me of Jason Kidd in that way. A bigger guard who can rebound, pass, and defend. His shot is better than Jason’s though.
- Now to the the man of the hour. Keldon Johnson. The Mustang! What a night. He shot 12/16 and scored 29 points. He also grabbed 6 rebounds and played hard nosed defense. He’s only 21 but plays well beyond his years. Oh, and that dunk he had today. Come on. I can’t decide which young guy I’m most excited about. It changes game to game. The future is bright. This is going to be fun.
Saturday, January 16 vs. Houston Rockets (again)