Is it too early to start counting “moral” victories? After a week of losses, the San Antonio Spurs had three such victories. In these losses, the Silver and Black young core never gave up, kept fighting, and even had some great highlights.
Week 2: The Spurs played the Los Angeles Lakers twice in the new series format that the league is using in this pandemic season. Both games may have been losses, but the games were hard fought and in the second game, the Spurs made huge improvements and were able to stay with the 2020 Champs up until the end. In both games, the young core had incredible nights. In the first, Dejounte Murray had a career night with 29 points with 7 rebounds and 7 assists. And something else happened, but I don’t think it was very memorable (RIGHT! - this is sarcasm). After being ejected early for arguing with the refs, Gregg Popovich handed the keys to Becky Hammon and she officially became the first woman to lead an NBA team. The second game saw the return of Derrick White and the continuation of the Keldon Johnson show. While the loss hurt, seeing the young core at full strength, playing a full game against the Lakers and taking it to them for almost the whole game was awesome.
Last week: 0-3 (2-4) — 121-107 vs Lakers (loss); 109-103 vs Lakers (loss); 130-109 vs Jazz (loss)
Andrew Lopez, ESPN - 20 (Last Week: 17)
It was a history-making week for the Spurs, as Becky Hammon took over head-coaching duties from Gregg Popovich on Wednesday, making her the first woman to serve as a head coach in a regular-season NBA game. Of Hammon’s history-making night, Popovich said, “She earned it. She is qualified. She’s wonderful at what she does. I wanted her on my staff because of the work that she does. And she happens to be a woman, which basically should be irrelevant but it’s not in our world, as we’ve seen as it’s been so difficult for women to obtain certain positions. It was business as usual for us.”
Colin Ward-Henninger, CBS Sports - 27 (Last Week: 12)
San Antonio dropped all three of its games this week, losing twice to the Lakers and then to the Jazz. With LaMarcus Aldridge out, and Keldon Johnson has picked up some of the offensive slack, averaging 18.3 points on 55 percent 3-point shooting for the week. Derrick White aggravated his surgically repaired toe in his season debut and it looks like he’ll miss some more time, leaving the Spurs further shorthanded.
John Schuhmann, NBA.com - 27 (Last Week: 19)
It’s kind of funny that the team that had a 22-season playoff streak less than two years ago is now the feel-good underdog of the NBA (with fiesta uniforms!), trying to scratch out wins with a lot more youthful energy than sophisticated execution. The Spurs had DeMar DeRozan guarding Marc Gasol last week, and when Derrick White made his season debut on Friday, he got bullied by LeBron James on a big bucket for his troubles.
Dejounte Murray showed out in the first meeting with the champs, scoring a career-high 29 points (on 12-for-19 shooting), with seven rebounds and seven assists. He’s still pretty skinny, but he had a couple of strong, bump-and-rise buckets (one, two) against Kyle Kuzma in the second half.
Alas, after scoring 117.4 points per possessions in their 2-0 start, the Spurs have scored just 101.5 over their four-game losing streak. They’ve been taking care of the ball, but rank in the bottom 10 in effective field goal percentage (24th), free throw rate (25th), and offensive rebounding percentage (27th). Their five-game road trip begins with two games in L.A., but gets soft at the end, with three games against the Wolves and Thunder.
Becky Hammon drew up an Elevator Doors play tonight. pic.twitter.com/99R8fGGqDB— John Schuhmann (@johnschuhmann) December 31, 2020
Mo Dahkil, Bleacher Report - 20 (Last Week: 19)
The Spurs are riding a four-game losing streak after starting the season 2-0. DeMar DeRozan is carrying them offensively, leading the team in scoring (21.3) and assists (7.3), but at the same time, he is hurting them defensively. San Antonio’s defensive rating is 118.5 when he is on the court.
They continue to play at a faster pace, but if they are not able to get stops, it will be a moot point.
The Spurs did play the Lakers tough in their miniseries and nearly stole the second game. They will continue to be a tough and always-prepared team, but leaning on so many young players will lead to a lot of growing pains defensively.
Offense and defense aside, the Spurs are the winner of the coolest thing to happen in the NBA this week. After Gregg Popovich was ejected in their first game against the Lakers, Becky Hammon took over as coach, making her the first woman to coach an NBA regular-season game.
Michael Shapiro, SI.com - ?? (Last Week: 19)
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Kevin O’Conner, TheRinger.com - ?? (Last Week: 22)
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The analysts have naturally taken a very negative view on this win-less homestand. What do you think of this three game trend, Pounders? Do you also feel it portends an ominous future or just still a team getting used to a new style of play? Let us know in the comments.