More often than not, if a team’s best player on the court is arguably the most offensively limited, that’s not a good thing. This is not to say that player isn’t capable of an offensive explosion every now and then, but it can mean that no one else has shown up. That was exactly the case in the first half as the San Antonio Spurs continued their Eastern Conference swing against the Chicago Bulls, and absolutely no one had anything going for the Spurs — except Jakob Poeltl.
With career-highs of 20 points and 16 rebounds, mostly obtained via pop-a-shots and tip-ins (plus a dunk or two), Poeltl was the Spurs’ lifeline that even made the idea of a second half rally possible after they got down by as much as 23 in the second quarter. In fact, only two of his points came after the third, when the Spurs entered the final frame down 13 but with an air of confidence building and the momentum swinging their way, in no small part thanks to the efforts of Big Jak.
Credit also goes to Drew Eubanks, who continued his solid streak of play in the 14 minutes Poeltl needed rest, with 7 points, 3 rebounds, 2 blocks, and tough finishes like this. The more time he gets, the more he improves.
Derrick White was part of that group that couldn’t throw the ball in the ocean even from point blank range for much of the night, but like everyone else he found his stroke and came alive late to help with the massive rally and finished with 17 inefficient but huge points.
Finally, it seemed like Patty Mills was in for a concerning repeat performance from Philadelphia, but Saint Patrick finally showed up and blessed his namesake with some good luck as he scored 11 points in the fourth quarter to help complete the comeback and make this St. Patrick’s Day pun possible.
It isn’t always pretty, but this young Spurs team keeps finding ways to win. Gregg Popovich said DeMar DeRozan might be back on Friday against the Cleveland Cavaliers, and they could definitely use his steadying presence as they continue to learn and grow, but it’s also good to see them figuring things out on their own.
Happy Belated St. Patrick’s Day!