While nobody knows where LaMarcus Aldridge is going, DeMar DeRozan has returned. A positive week on the road against all Eastern Conference teams has helped create some separation in the Western Conference standings for the San Antonio Spurs (who are standing at 7th).
Week 13: After the blowout loss to the Sixers last week, the Spurs came out this week with something to prove. The Detroit Pistons have not had a good season and sometimes the Silver and Black come out flat against teams with losing records. But the young core, led by Dejounte Murray who was just four assists short of a triple double, put on a show and had an impressive bounceback win.
After playing the worst half of the season, the Silver and Black then roared back from down by 23 against the Chicago Bulls for another good win. Still missing DeMar DeRozan, Murray, Derrick White, and Keldon Johnson led the charge in the second half. Jakob Poeltl also had a huge game with 20 points and 16 rebounds.
Heading to Cleveland for the first game of a back-to-back, the Spurs survived a furious comeback by the Cavaliers to win their third in a row on the road. DeMar DeRozan returned this game to continue where he left off (20 points and 7 assists). But the game ball would have to go to Keldon Johnson who had an incredible night with 23 points and 21 rebounds.
But good things come to an end. Apparently the Spurs can’t seem to get beyond the 3 in a row wins. On the SEGABABA against the Milwaukee Bucks, the streak ended. The team started off again in a hole and fought all game to keep it close, but they just couldn’t get over the hump. Even Lonnie Walker IV’s career 31 points failed to do the trick.
Last Week: 3-1 (22-17, 7th in West) —109-99 @ Pistons; 106-99 @ Bulls; 116-110 @ Cavaliers; 120-113 @ Bucks (loss);
Andrew Lopez, ESPN - 12 (Last Week: 13)
San Antonio’s Keldon Johnson had himself quite the performance Thursday against the Cavaliers. Johnson finished with 23 points and 21 rebounds — including 11 offensive boards — in the Spurs’ win. Johnson became the first Spur since Tim Duncan in 2013 to record a 20-point, 20-rebound game. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, Johnson became the first player listed at 6-foot-5 or shorter to have 11 offensive rebounds in a game since Adrian Dantley did it for the Jazz on April 6, 1985.
Colin Ward-Henninger, CBS Sports - 11 (Last Week: 14)
The Spurs rattled off three straight wins to start the week, two without DeMar DeRozan, before losing to the Bucks on Saturday without Dejounte Murray and Patty Mills. Keldon Johnson had a monster game with 23 points and a career-high 21 rebounds (11 offensive) in Friday’s win over the Cavs, then Lonnie Walker IV scored a career-high 31 points in the loss to Milwaukee. San Antonio’s host of exciting young guards and wings will be fun to watch for the rest of the season.
John Schuhmann, NBA.com - 11 (Last Week: 14)
With the Spurs having played only seven games against the Eastern Conference before the break, the start of their second-half schedule is East heavy. They’re 0-3 against the Sixers, Nets and Bucks, but they’re 10-0 against the rest of the conference, having come back from 23 points down in Chicago on Wednesday. The 17-0, fourth-quarter run that put the Spurs in control included three pull-up 2-pointers from Dejounte Murray, who ranks sixth in the league with 221 pull-up 2-point attempts. The 45.7% he’s shot on pull-up 2-pointers ranks 22nd among 52 players who’ve attempted at least 100.
Murray got his first day off on Saturday, resting in Milwaukee. With all the absences they’ve had, the Spurs’ only lineup that’s played more than 83 minutes is the original starting group that included LaMarcus Aldridge, who only has a few more days on the roster (whether he’s traded or not by Thursday). But Murray and Derrick White have now played more minutes together (245, in which the Spurs have outscored their opponents by 5.3 points per 100 possessions) than they did all of last season (239).
The Spurs are just 10-10 at home, set to begin a nine-game homestand on Monday. Only three of the nine games are against teams that have winning records, but two of those three are a two-game series (Wednesday and Thursday) against the Clippers.
Mo Dahkil, Bleacher Report - 11 (Last Week: 11)
The Spurs finished their five-game East Coast road trip, going 3-2 over seven days. They were without DeMar DeRozan (bereavement) for the first few games.
One problem for the Spurs during this road trip was their struggles from downtown. As a team, they shot 33.6 percent from three. Even though they do not attempt a lot of threes, knocking down those shots is often a big part of their wins.
After this five-game road trip, the Spurs’ next nine games are at home, giving Gregg Popovich time to tighten up a few areas where San Antonio experienced some slippage on the road.
Kevin O’Conner, The Ringer - ?? (Last Week: NA)
Pounders, do you think the Spurs are finding a rhythm? Do this week’s wins give you more confidence in the Silver and Black making the playoffs? Is it too early to give up? Let us know in the comments.