Just like eight days ago in Los Angeles, it was another burn-the-film type performance from the Spurs in Indiana (although twice in that timespan says make them watch it this time). They looked like a travel-weary team on the second night of a back-to-back while the Pacers were absolutely on fire in the first half, hitting 14 of their 20 threes and leading by as much as 27. After three straight games featuring 20-point rallies (going both ways), the Spurs had no such magic left in the tank tonight on the way to a massive 152-111 blowout loss.
Doug McDermott led five Spurs in double figures with 17 points off the bench, and Keldon Johnson led the starters with 16 points. Tyrese Haliburton led 6 Pacers in double figures with 23 points (20 of which came in the first half).
- This was Victor Wembanyama’s first ever back-to-back, and it showed. He as a step slower than usual, his reaction time wasn’t there, his shots were short, and the spark just wasn’t there on the way to 13 points on 3-12 shooting (although he did pull in 10 rebounds). Some wonder why he needs time to “get into NBA shape”, and this is why. No amount of working out in the summer prepares you for the rigors of the game, and the NBA is on a whole different level. The travel (reminder: Texas alone is bigger than France), the frequency between games, the sheer number of them, etc. It will take time, but the only way to get into NBA shape is to play through those tiring moments and find a second wind.
- The Spurs’ first half stats would make you think they were “good enough”. 61 points on 46% shooting, only 4 turnovers, 22 free throw attempts — but here’s the problem: the Pacers were lights out and just couldn’t miss, hitting 14-22 threes in just 24 minutes alone. Contested or not, everything was falling against the Spurs’ porous defense, and it didn’t stop with the second unit, which scored 38 points led by Buddy Hield doing Buddy Hield things on the way to 19 points. On a lot of nights, 61 points will be good enough in a half. But when you give up 86? Nope.
- I don’t know what happened with Jalen Smith late in the second quarter, but he was called for a relatively textbook foul for his third, his teammates had to calm him down to avoid a technical, and he was subbed out and stormed back to the locker room, kicking a towel hamper along the way. Was he so that mad about a pretty simple call that Rick Carlisle had to tell him to back with the locker room and cool off? Seemed like quite the overreaction, especially when your team is up big, but he was back on the Pacers bench for the second half.
- We already know the Spurs need to work on finding Wemby down low earlier in plays, but the same can be said for Charles Bassey. Defenses are completely ignoring him, even under the basket, so the Spurs need to be more aware and try to get him the ball more often when he’s open.
- In a rare lighthearted moment in the second half, Wemby was confounded when he thought he had picked up his first career technical. He had gotten an offensive rebound under the basket, was bumped by a Pacer and, assuming he’d get a foul call, just kind of fell out of bounds without trying to stop himself or pass the ball. Befuddled that he didn’t get the call, he held onto the ball for a few seconds before putting it down, and because it was the Spurs’ second delay of game warning, the Pacers got a free throw. He was then subbed out and could be seen asking why he got a technical foul. Sandro Mamukelashvili could then be seen explaining to him what the call was and that it was a team technical, not his. So rest assured, Wemby, your record is still clean.
The Spurs will travel to New York to take on the Knicks on Wednesday. Tip-off will be at 6:30 PM CT on ESPN.