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What We Learned from the Spurs being hopelessly outclassed by the Jazz

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What’s one more loss between friends?

San Antonio Spurs v Utah Jazz Photo by Melissa Majchrzak/NBAE via Getty Images

It almost like the Spurs are in a game of chicken with the very concept of winning a basketball game. It’d be sort of fascinating if it didn’t didn’t also make my heart hurt a little bit every time our weary players trudged off the court at the buzzer to go reckon with yet another notch in the loss column. Frankly, this is all semantics at this point anyway. We know what the Spurs are and all that’s left is to see where everything comes to rest.

I gave an honest effort at finding a silver lining last night, I really did, but my heart wasn’t in it. The Jazz were too good and the Spurs were too bad. I know that we’re all, in theory, excited for the young guys to get a big chunk of real NBA minutes, but spending the night focusing on what the future might be while Joe Ingles drained yet another three in their face lost it’s charm pretty quickly. Have you ever tried focusing on the six-pack abs you’re attempting to achieve while you’re on the floor doing crunches? Yea, it doesn’t make doing the crunches any more pleasant.

The Spurs look tired. It’s understandable why they’re tired, and I don’t begrudge it or anything; I’m just also tired of watching these exhausted guys go out there and play the punching bag role for contenders who happen to be rounding into shape for the playoffs. It feels cruel and unusual. The relative tiredness permeates through everything and turns this game that we love watching into a rote exercise that serves very little purpose other than to check a box.

It doesn’t help that I feel like I’m going crazy because, even after all this, the Spurs are STILL locked in contention for the 10th spot in this accursed Play-In Tournament that feels like it exists just to taunt us at this point. Does anybody even want this anymore? Does the NBA want it? Are the Broken Spurs vs. Steph Curry and Some Guys going to be a wild bonanza that’s going to jolt the league’s anemic TV ratings back from the brink? I know this all sounded like a cool idea at the time, but now I feel like we’re just doubling and tripling down on a losing hand.

Being in contention for this silly little tournament feels like a curse because it means the Spurs have to keep trying to make it work. They have to keep running the vets out there and trying new combinations and seeing if any little tweak can spark something that might get it all clicking. They have to because there’s basically nowhere else to go. Everyone else behind them is playing just as bad and there’s not enough time to bottom out anymore. They’re stuck in a purgatory of their own making. I want to wave the white flag. I bet the Spurs want to wave it too, but like, what happens if you offer up your surrender and your opponent shouts out across the battlefield, “No thank you!”?

It’s tough. The Spurs are in a tough spot right now, and maybe it’s not as bleak as it feels, but that seems more like a realization we get to have later when we’ve had time to reflect. Right now they’re wading deep into the black marsh of another losing streak. It’s dark, it smells bad, and there’s no one coming to the rescue. They’ve gone too far to go back, so the only option left is to keep on trudging forward into the darkness and have faith that there’s some relief to be had out there somewhere.

Sometimes the only way out is through.

Takeaways:

  • I want to be the type of guy who gets excited about watching the young guys get a whole bunch of minutes and some nights, yes, that attitude totally works. Last night? No. Last night I just couldn’t get into it. They were the same energetic dudes who try really hard and are doing their best to work on their game, and yet ... it just wasn’t what I wanted last night. Maybe I didn’t have the patience for it, or maybe I was just so disoriented by how quickly it went off the rails that I couldn’t engage with what it became. I mean, I don’t care how young our guys are or how good their guys are, a 41-point deficit is a tough pill to swallow.
  • A couple of people tweeted this stat during the game so, apologies for my lack of citation here, but apparently when the Spurs briefly took the lead during the first quarter it was the first time they held a lead since the Boston game on Friday (and also the first time they had a lead against the Jazz this season). That feels insane to me! Maybe two games without a lead isn’t that long to go, but right now it encapsulates a very specific way in which the Spurs seem to be off their game at the moment. It also feels apropos that as soon has they had a little taste of the Lead Life, the Jazz then proceeded to systematically pull away for the rest of the game.
  • Lonnie Walker continues to add to his impressive collection of dunks this year. That’s a fun thing we can focus on. Lonnie is absolutely the best type of dunker because he’s crazy athletic and crazy strong and also, relatively speaking, very small. I know 6’4” is is pretty tall but, you know, when you’re blowing by someone who’s 7’ then you basically qualify for pipsqueak status and when a pipsqueak rises up through the air throws it down with authority? Man, there’s few things in the game I enjoy visually more than that.
  • Do you ever worry that all of these losses are some kind of karmic reckoning we’re required to sit through after all those years the Spurs spent sitting on top of the standings and absolutely wrecking their lesser opponents on a nightly basis? Obviously that’s ridiculous, but, like, hypothetically speaking if they are in a situation where they need to be atoning for a past life as a basketball dynasty, how much longer does it have to go? Is it a 1:1 situation, is their compounding interest or debt forgiveness, or what? Again, this is all hypothetical of course, I just, uh, would like the be prepared.

WWL Post Game Press Conference

- Do you ever start writing these things in the middle of a game? Like, if the lead balloons out to something like 41 points in the 4th, do you consider it safe to go ahead and start getting your takes out on paper?

- I understand why you would think that but, no, absolutely not. The title of this column is ‘What We Learned” and I take that very seriously. We couldn’t possibly begin to quantify the sum total of our learnings until after the buzzer sounds and not a minute sooner. You wouldn’t look at a puzzle the was 90% complete and be like, “it’s done” just because you think you can see most of a lighthouse in there.

- I...I mean, in that puzzle example I...wouldn’t say that it was done but I think I could possibly start writing a column about how we learned that there was a lighthouse if I could see 90% of it was finished.

- Again, you’d think that but, no, absolutely not. By beginning the process of writing before the puzzle is complete, you are neglecting to encompass the entire experience of what putting it together was like. You can’t feel it. You can’t live with it. It’s putting the the cart before the horse and it’s not something I will ever do with the sacred space afforded to me here at Pounding The Rock Dot Com.

- You’re just too lazy to write at night, right?

- The games finish so late and I get sooooooo tired.