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What we learned from the Spurs loss to the Pacers

There’s only so much you can do against hot shooting, but the Spurs have depth.

NBA: San Antonio Spurs at Indiana Pacers Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports

Up to 82 times between October and April, I’m faced with this question: Should I get up in the middle of the night, or should I watch it in the morning? In the first couple of weeks of each NBA season, I’m motivated to sacrifice two and a half hours of sleep as my beloved San Antonio Spurs play across the Atlantic. But soon it slips. It always does.

Last night at half-time, I reached an early breaking point: I got up at midnight – and I went back to bed 65 minutes later. I had seen enough of a team not named Spurs that couldn’t miss any shots. And I had seen enough of a team named Spurs unable to hold on to the ball.

I got up again 6 hours later – to resume watching a team not named Spurs that still made so many shots it’s hard to pinpoint when garbage time started. The Pacers paced down in the fourth quarter, but the second- and third-string Spurs showed character, winning the final twelve minutes by a double-digit margin.

Frankly, I don’t want to take away too much from the Spurs’ first blowout loss of the season. Still here are my …

Takeaways:

  • Some second-rounders become all-stars. Manu Ginóbili, Marc Gasol, Draymond Green, or Paul Millsap, for example. Nikola Jokic even became MVP. But these are exceptions to the rule. The rule is: Very few of them manage to even stay in the league past their rookie contracts. Tre Jones could be one to make a career in the NBA though. He’s an industrious guard, a willing defender, and the ball looks safe in his hands – only one turnover in 45 minutes of play this season. You may well call him the architect behind the garbage time surge in last night’s game. He even hit a three-pointer, which he normally appears unwilling to take. I’m confident he’ll have a good career as a back-up point guard in the NBA. Hopefully, it’ll be with the Spurs.
  • Feel-good night for Jock Landale: 10 points on 100 percent shooting in 5 minutes of play will have some Pounders demand the Aussie to take Drew Eubanks’ place in the rotation. I don’t think Pop will comply, at least not yet. But I wouldn’t be surprised to see Landale’s minutes increase deeper into the season.
  • Other bench guys also looked good: Thaddeus Young is a fine playmaker, he’ll find the cutter if there is one. But, oh boy, some of his passes hit like bullets – “too much sauce”, as Sean puts it. Bryn Forbes is coming into his own. He’s doing what he was brought back for – make threes. For an NBA player, Keita Bates-Diop’s movements look a bit on the gross motor side, but you can’t fault his effort. And 10 points on more than 50 percent shooting plus 7 rebounds in 24 minutes is nothing to frown at.
  • There’s only so much you can do when the opponent is making almost every shot, the starting five looked tired on the defensive on end of floor. Both Derrick and Jakob appeared to lack the vitality they displayed against the Bucks, and though Dejounte looked great attacking early, his defense looked a bit lackluster. I was okay with Kawhi not always guarding the opposition’s strongest guy once he became our de facto go-to-guy. But that’s not where Dejounte is yet. As for Lonnie, I get the impression he does best when he can feel like the first or second option. From last season, I can remember three games in which he scored more than 20 points while DeMar DeRozan sat out. I’m interested to find out how he performs once Dougie McBuckets is back starting.
  • Let’s look at the record from the bright side: Multiplied by ten, 2-5 could mean blue chip prospect territory. And that Paolo Banchero looks awfully interesting.