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Week in Review: Spurs show improvement, but the losing streak continues

The Spurs are playing better but still can’t cut down the mistakes enough to end their losing streak.

NBA: San Antonio Spurs at New Orleans Pelicans Stephen Lew-USA TODAY Sports

Welcome to the Week in Review: a Monday feature that looks back at the week that was for the San Antonio Spurs, takes a look at the week ahead, and more. Enjoy!

Week 5: The Spurs keep fighting for that elusive win but can’t get over the hump.

Week 6: 0-2 (3-16, 15th in West) — 135-137 L vs. Atlanta Hawks; 106-121 L @ New Orleans Pelicans

It has officially been over a month since the Spurs last experienced the taste of victory (against the Phoenix Suns on November 2), and it’s hard to know when that next win will come. After arguably reaching rock bottom two weeks ago (in terms of how bad the games actually were) with a massive blowout loss to the Thunder and two more blown double-digit leads at home, particularly to a slumping Memphis team that was missing seven rotation players, the Spurs have shown gradual improvement since, but the streak-buster still eludes them.

Amidst a couple of slow weeks, with just a total of four games between last week and this upcoming one, the Spurs have plenty of time to rest and practice to try and turn the ship around, and they once again came close-but-no-cigar. Beginning with a home game against Atlanta after three days off, there was question regarding Victor Wembanyama’s availability due to hip tightness. He played, and it ended up being an exciting, defense-optional matchup, but it also followed the unfortunate trend of so many other Spurs home games this season: they got out to a fast start and led by double-digits before Trae Young started doing Trae Young things and went nuclear for 45 points, making every conceivable shot and foul-baiting the young Spurs (and refs) into giving up many free throws.

But we mentioned the Spurs have been looking better since hitting rock bottom a couple of weeks ago, and it showed in the form of not blowing the game in the third quarter (they tied the Hawks 39-39) and overcoming some fourth quarter adversity to get within a charge of tying the game and forcing OT on a last-possession steal. What a feather in the cap converting that would have been for Jeremy Sochan’s historic career night after a rough stretch of learning the point guard position.

Next was a SEGABABA in New Orleans, and to the surprise of no one, Wemby sat that one out to rest his hip (as Pop made clear was very likely the night before). This was more in line with a typical Spurs game: they remained close in the first half before the Pelicans methodically pulled away in the second, but there were still things to like. Zion Williamson and Brandon Ingram were held in check, and the Spurs played team ball on offense, but no one had a big game to counter Jonas Valanciunas (predictably) going off, and turnovers (many unforced) continued to be the bane of their existence for another winless week and 14th straight loss — two off their franchise-high of 16 set last season.

Power Rankings

John Schuhmann, — 29 (last week: 28)

OffRtg: 107.3 (28) DefRtg: 119.4 (27) NetRtg: -12.1 (30) Pace: 102.7 (4)

The Spurs have been more competitive (against some good teams) of late, but their losing streak has hit 14 games, and they’ve been a little worse than the Pistons on both ends of the floor over the streak.

Three takeaways

1. Jeremy Sochan had the best offensive game of his career on Thursday, scoring 33 points on 12-for-14 shooting, adding eight rebounds and six assists against the Hawks. But his first steal led to his fifth turnover, when he was called for a charge with a chance to tie the game in the final seconds. (The Last Two Minute Report deemed it a correct call.)

2. The Spurs had only two games last week, but they were a back-to-back, and Victor Wembanyama sat out the back end, missing a game for the first time. He had four blocks against Atlanta on Thursday, but his overall defensive impact over his last two games (the Nuggets and Hawks shot 18-for-29 against him) wasn’t nearly what it was early in the season (15-for-61 through the Spurs’ first six).

3. The Spurs are still sharing the ball. They’re one of two teams — the Kings are the other — that rank in the top five in both ball and player movement, and they’ve recorded assists on 69.8% of their field goals, what would be the highest rate for any team in the last seven seasons.

The Spurs don’t have another back-to-back until Dec. 28 and 29, and that will be two straight games in Portland. They got a little bit of a favor from the league with an inter-conference game against the Bulls (who they’ll now play three times) on Friday.

Brett Siegel, Clutch Points — 29 (last week: 27)

The San Antonio Spurs and top overall pick Victor Wembanyama have now lost 14 straight games, throwing them to the bottom of the Western Conference standings. The Spurs are not necessarily a bad team, as their starting group possesses a lot of young, high-potential talents, but San Antonio lacks productive secondary talents. It may not be a bad idea for the Spurs to be buyers at the trade deadline this season and get Wemby another star to play alongside.

Yossi Gozlan, Hoops Hype — 28 (last week: 28)

Stock Up: Jeremy Sochan, Julian Champagnie

The Spurs had a short week with two losses that extended their losing streak to 14 games, putting them on almost equal footing as the Pistons. The most encouraging part of the week was their close loss to the Hawks backed by massive performances by Victor Wembanyama and Jeremy Sochan. Beyond player development, the potential availability of veterans like Doug McDermott and Cedi Osman is worth monitoring.

Coming up: Wed. 12/6 @ Minnesota Timberwovles; Fri. 12/8 vs. Chicago Bulls

Prediction: 1-1 — As was mentioned last week, every loss means the Spurs are closer to their next win, and they’ll have a chance to avoid tying their franchise-record losing streak on Friday against a struggling Bulls team that is on the brink of blowing it all up. That being said, they’re still a veteran-laden, more talented group than the Spurs, so the home team will once again have to bring its A-game and avoid all the usual letdowns that has marred this season to pull it out.