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What we learned from the Spurs loss to the Suns

A night full of teachable moments in the desert.

San Antonio Spurs v Phoenix Suns Photo by Barry Gossage/NBAE via Getty Images

No Derrick White. No Jakob Poeltl. No Dejounte Murray. Against the number one seed in the west. I wasn’t looking forward to this one. To be real for one second, I’m rarely looking forward to a San Antonio Spurs game these days. I tune in almost out of habit, obligation, or morbid curiosity, but almost never because I’m looking forward to whatever is about to happen. Not a great attitude, I’ll admit. But the upside to carrying a rain cloud over your heard into the watch party is that your expectations are pretty easy to clear.

Lo and behold, the Spurs came out and held their own Sunday night. It was even pretty fun for long stretches! I feel like all we do around here is clamor for a chance to see what our various young assets are capable of — and they rose to the challenge in a variety of different ways. Tre Jones ably managed the game from point. Josh Primo continued to impress and look like he’s learning all the right lessons in Austin. Lonnie and Keldon powered up and asserted themselves all night. We even got a glimpse of that it looks like when Doug McDermott decides he’s going to be the best player on the court for a little bit. Hey, what if we built this whole thing around Dougie McBuckets! Has anyone asked that question yet?

As the third quarter drew to a close, I really thought they might just go ahead and win this dang thing. It seemed like the definition of a tangible hope. I thought that maybe we would luck into a situation where the Phoenix Suns realized it just wasn’t their night and packed it in. Alas...they did not. Instead they did what great teams do and basically just said, “No, this isn’t happening.” I think I got up to get a drink and the lead was down to three by the time I came back. It was like they’d been throwing rocks at a volcano all night and all of sudden were surprised to be covered in lava.

Hopefully this is a teachable moments. One of those things that gets burned into the mind of a guy like Josh Primo so that someday, when the top seeded Spurs are down 12 to a squad of rookies and bench players, it gets activated and he becomes the kind of terminator that Chris Paul was tonight. That’s the dream, right? That’s the whole reason for the season. We’re collecting experiences. Non Fungible Experiences. (Did I use that right?)

It was a night for seeing the upside in people and feeling the brief tingles of hope crop up inside your cold, angst-ridden heart. An actual win was improbable and largely unnecessary. The wins will come when they need to. For now it felt like enough to see this team continue to play hard and have an attitude that is, frankly, the polar opposite of mine. They want to be out there. They look forward to the challenge in front of them. They aren’t scared of something bad happening because, honestly, what bad could possibly happen?

It’s just basketball.


  • I don’t think this was a worst uniform matchup of the season, but it was pretty close. The Suns’ Valley jerseys are actually nice and I think they vibe well a majority of the time, but that combination of black and super bright purples, oranges and yellows paired up against our drab grey guys made me feel sad for everyone involved. It was like dumping oatmeal on a birthday cake. It was like listening to the news on your way home from a rock concert. It was the sartorial equivalent of being inside a raging nightclub when the doors open up and you realize it’s a cloudy Monday morning. I’m convinced the Spurs won’t make the playoffs again until we get rid of these jerseys once and for all. If I start a petition or something, will you guys back me up?
  • I love Lonnie Walker. I really do and I just want good things to happen for him. Tonight was mostly good things! He looked more comfortable out there than he has in a while and I wonder if maybe getting to be a little more dominant in his role with the team is good for him. He’s able to assert himself and play with confidence as opposed to deferring to everyone around him. It’s crazy to me that, at least among the guys on the floor last night, Lonnie was basically a seasoned veteran. Didn’t we draft him like last year? I’m losing my mind.
  • Doug McDermott was, legitimately, a ton of fun last night. Why can’t Doug just be like a taller Patty Mills? That feels like the role he was born to play. Him rolling around and just firing at will is not necessarily something I would be opposed to seeing more of as we cruise on through the rest of the season. A thing I would be opposed to seeing more of is Dougie getting absolutely housed at the rim by other teams. I don’t know how it kept happening where he was our last line of defense at the basket but it felt particularly soul crushing to see their guys repeatedly having a full runway right into Doug’s gourd.
  • I don’t know if I want the Spurs to rally down the back half of the season and make the Play-In tournament or not. It seems very doable, right? Like, they aren’t that far out of it right now and there’s plenty of season left. It could be done. We love a little playoff experience for the kids but we also loooooove an extra ping pong ball or two so, I dunno. I think what I really want is for a chance to have a better record than the Lakers this year. We’re like 5 games back and, that seems doable. I say we chase that high and let the chips fall where they may. That’s my official position. *** Bangs Gavel ***

WWL Post Game Press Conference

- Is it kosher for you to admit you don’t look forward to watching Spurs games? That seems so extreme.

- Oh, it’s for sure extreme. Hyperbole is one of the finest weapons we in the Take Business have at our disposal. If I were to say “I have no strong feelings either way about the upcoming Spurs game” then I’d get run out of the building. I’m pretty sure they’d revoke my credentials for the site. But if I say, “I dread the oncoming Spurs game as though it were the spectre of Death himself beckoning me towards the creeping darkness” then they renew my contract on the spot. The site’s editors will continue to hurl briefcases of money at me for lines like that.

- So you’re saying you just make up how you’re feeling in order to write these things?

- No, what I’m saying is that I exaggerate how I’m feeling. I pick an emotion, any emotion, and then I proceed to feel it as hard as I can for however long it takes. You block out everything else in the world until the only thing that exists is you and the idea that you aren’t looking forward to watching the Spurs Bench Mob take on the number one seed in the West. You can’t just fake it. People can tell if you’re faking it.

- Ok. I think I get it. So it’s not that you don’t contain multitudes, it's just that you can only feel one of said multitudes at a time in order to get these takes off.

- Right. You feel exactly one multitude and then you amp it up for maximum effect. That’s showbusiness, baby.

- And how many briefcases would you say are hurled at you for this?

- Who can keep track? It’s honestly a pretty inefficient way to pay us, including numerous poorly-hurled or miscaught briefcases. I’ve been lobbying for a switch to direct deposit for years.