The Spurs played a hard fought game against the Suns late into Monday evening and then had to come out and get up for another one on Tuesday. This was probably never going to turn out well and, sure enough, despite a few enticing flashes here and there, the boys just didn’t quite have the magic tonight. That’s a bummer, for sure, but what are we gonna do, cry about it? No! We’re gonna learn about it. Let’s go!
It sure seemed like the Spurs wanted to hang in there for about a quarter or so. It really did. They were playing hard on defense and managing to find just enough answers on the other end to keep it tight. It wasn’t pretty, by any means, but it certainly gave the game an air of “anything could happen here” which is kind of the Spurs whole move these days. They may not be the best team, but they definitely lead the league in having a puncher’s chance.
The thing about having a puncher’s chance though, is that at some point you’ve got to land a punch and the Spurs just never could. Is it frustrating to watch? A little. But are we worried about it? Of course not. As we’ve discussed at length, we’re playing by Whose Line Is It Anyway? rules this year. Everything is made up and the points don’t matter! If anything, as the Knicks began to methodically pull away over the course of the game, it became easier to just slide into the idea of a loss like a warm, relaxing bath at the end of a long day. You can’t get hurt if you’ve already made peace with it.
Games like the one in Phoenix on Monday are the ones that will drive you crazy. They’re the ones that suck you in and make you think you’re something that you’re not. Pop was throwing out weird lineups and the Suns were spazzing out and all of a sudden its a 4 point game with two minutes left against the best team in the league? Yea, that’s the danger zone for a team like this. What, did you think that maybe if we just played Josh Primo and Thaddeus Young together a little more then we might be a finals contender instead of Lottery Boys? Grow up! That’s not how any of this works.
The Spurs played hard against Phoenix and a few bounces started going their way. It’s the same thing that happened against Golden State and, frankly, it’s the same thing that’s going to happen in like 90% of whatever wins they manage to scrape together this year. This team is always going to play hard. We know that about them and it’s the thing that keeps us coming back even when the Knicks are picking them apart with Julius Randle step back threes over the course of a night.
This game felt like a return to normal after that heady little run through the start of the month. I’m okay with it. It’s the natural order of things. The wins and losses and all that just start to distract from the process of what we’re doing here which is getting better. Bit by bit. There’s no magic button that anyone can press to make it go faster.
Although, maybe Pop should keep trot that Primo/Young lineup out one or two more times.
Just in case.
- I have no idea why but it’s always been extremely annoying to me when we lose to the Knicks. It shouldn’t be, they’re just another team out there trying to make a go of it in this crazy world but, still, it rankles me. I think I took an inordinate amount of pride in our little ol’ Spurs always being really good while the Big Bad Big Market Knicks were out there perpetually stepping on rakes. Sigh. I talk a big game about relaxing and just enjoying the ride but, man, the adjustment process to watching a lottery team is still kind of a tough hang. Stay strong out there.
- Losing Keldon Johnson in the middle of the 2nd quarter, obviously, was a huge bummer. The silver lining to a season like this is that, hopefully, there won’t be any huge sense of urgency to try and rush him back before he’s ready. I have ZERO scientific evidence to back this up, but, it always feels like ankle injuries are the type of thing that can start to hang around for way longer than they should. Hey Keldon, stay out and rest big guy. We’ll be here when you get back.
- It’s hard for me to fully wrap my head around Jakob Poeltl being our, like, 2nd best player? Maybe? That sounds like damning with faint praise, but I’m seriously impressed with how good Jakob has been this year. He’s so integral to keeping the defense humming and he provides so much cover back there at the rim. It also feels like he’s managed to grow in confidence a little bit more on offense. He’s still not, like, a dynamic scorer or anything, but I have a pretty clear memory of being concerned about his finishing capabilities around the rim and...uh...this seems like a guy who is very unconcerned about that.
Jakob is gettin' fancy with it pic.twitter.com/OwWFlzVzRb— San Antonio Spurs (@spurs) December 8, 2021
- The crowd going wild whenever Josh Primo comes in the game? Love to see that. Imagine being 18 years old, checking into a full-on NBA basketball game, and everyone just starts going nuts? What a rush. What a confidence builder. That kid’s gonna be ready to fight the entire world pretty soon.
WWL Post Game Press Conference
- Is there any part of you that would consider demanding a trade to a contender? You know, so you could be out there writing What We Learneds for a team with title aspirations?
- Well, no. No I would never demand a trade. Obviously, it’s out of my hands, you know? If the management at PTR sees a way to get valuable assets for the future by shipping me off somewhere then, like, so be it. This is a business and I understand that but, you know, I’ve always said I wanted to finish my career here and I stand by that.
- Do you pay attention to any of the rumors that fly around right now?
- You hear chatter, sure, It’s impossible not to. But, like I said, my focus is here and my job is to be here and present so that I can serve up the best possible takes about the San Antonio Spurs that I can. The rest is just noise and it’s not something I have any control over.
- Has there been any instructions handed down from management for you guys to maybe consider tanking this season in order to get better lottery odds in the Sportswriter Draft next year?
- Never. Not once. Look, we’re here to compete and that’s what we’re going to do. You will never see me tanking a take on this site. That’s now how I was raised.
- Never? Earlier in this column you very weakly tossed out an “ankle injuries are bad” take that didn’t really seem up to your standards. Care to comment?
- Look, maybe I made a bad read on that one, sure. It was a bad play. That’s going to happen but, I assure you, I am always giving 100% effort out there.
- I’m keeping an eye out.
- Please do.