The San Antonio Spurs fell to the Los Angeles Lakers in an all-too-familiar fourth-quarter collapse on Wednesday night, succumbing to the products of an anemic half-court offense and poor defense. Despite another rough defeat, Gregg Popovich and company must regroup for the second leg of a SEGABAB against the Los Angeles Clippers.
Their Pacific Division challengers got the better of them in the first three matchups, but the Silver and Black will have one last chance to pick up a win and avoid landing on the wrong end of a regular-season series sweep for the second time in 24 hours. Can San Antonio get the last laugh in La-La Land, or will Kawhi Leonard end up on top?
San Antonio Spurs (14-34) at Los Angeles Clippers (26-24)
January 26, 2022 | 9:30 PM CST
Watch: Bally Sports Southwest | Listen: WOAI (1200 AM)
Spurs: Dominick Barlow (Out — Two-Way), Charles Bassey (Out — Two-Way), Devin Vassell (Out — Knee), Blake Wesley (Out — On Assignment), Romeo Langford (Out — Adductor)
Clippers: Marcus Morris Sr. (Game Time Decision — Ribs), Luke Kennard (Game Time Decision — Calf), John Wall (Out — Abdomen)
What To Watch For
- Kawhi Leonard is beginning to look like the superstar player he used to be before an untimely ACL injury left him on the sidelines for roughly one and a half years. The 31-year-old forward has performed at an incredible level over his last eight appearances, averaging 29.3 points, 7.0 boards, and 3.8 assists on unreal .556/.472/.925 shooting splits. Spurs fans witnessed the dominance of the former face of their franchise last week as he exploded for a season-high 36 points in a narrow victory over San Antonio, and The Klaw will have the luxury of homecourt advantage this go-round. Jeremy Sochan and Keldon Johnson spent most of the evening covering Leonard, but neither of them could find an answer for his extensive scoring arsenal. Although sprinkling in different coverages and defenders might result in a slight improvement, the Spurs still have to worry about Paul George and Normal Powell.
- Watching Jeremy Sochan make palpable developmental strides with each passing game has been among the most enjoyable facets of an otherwise frustrating season. The rookie forward started his tenure with the Spurs in less-than-impressive fashion, looking lost on the court while bricking over half of his free-throw attempts and misfiring on wide-open three-pointers. He has since switched to a one-handed shot at the charity stripe, earned a Western Conference Rookie of the Month nomination, carried more ball-handling reps, and made a trifecta in four consecutive contests. All those feats are extraordinary, but his increased aggression on the offensive end has been an encouraging sight for the Silver and Black faithful to behold. Sochan has averaged 15.8 points across his last five games, making him the second-leading scorer on the roster during that timeframe. Despite a limited repertoire, the 19-year-old has a knack for picking his spots.
- We have discussed San Antonio’s miserable defense ad nauseam, and the truth is they lack the proper personnel and experience to flip the script on their struggles this season. Gregg Popovich has spent less time yelling his head off on the sidelines and more time patiently teaching his youngsters the ins and outs of the game during breaks between possessions. Anyone can see how disconnected the Spurs are on the defensive end. But small individual victories occur every night, even if all the losses make it appear otherwise. Instead of hanging your head when the Clippers inevitably put 120 points on the scoreboard, search for the positive moments within the hundred or so possessions that fit into a 48-minute window. Jakob Poeltl, Jeremy Sochan, and Tre Jones string together promising flashes that hint at a brighter future if PATFO can figure out how to supplement this roster with talented two-way pieces.
For the Clippers fans’ perspective, please visit Clips Nation.
The Game Thread will be up this evening for those who want to chat through the game. You can also follow along with the action on PtR’s Twitter feed.