In the grand scheme of things, there is nothing overly significant about the Spurs’ victory against the Utah Jazz on Tuesday. It moved them into a tied position with the Detroit Pistons for the second-worst record in the league and a game better than the even more hapless Houston Rockets, but they also remain four losses behind the Charlotte Hornets and therefore maintain equal odds at one of the top four picks in the draft lottery (although LaMelo Ball is out for the season with an ankle fracture, so that’s something to keep an eye on if you believe the Spurs can win four more games than anyone with 20 games left).
However, there is more underlying meaning to the win. The Spurs were getting extremely frustrated with their losing streak. Even during rebuilds, everyone needs a taste of victory every now and then to keep morale high, give hope for the future, and avoid being associated with the 2011-12 Charlotte Bobcats. Because of that, the Spurs’ streak-busting victory may be more important than many realize.
It certainly wasn’t their prettiest win of the season, but it still killed a lot of bad streaks that included more than just losing, so let’s take a look at each major streak they busted with their 102-94 win against the Jazz.
Franchise record 16-game losing streak
The Spurs were already several games past their franchise record 13-game losing streak, which occurred back in the 1988-89 season, and while it looked like they’d finally get a chance to end it this weekend with consecutive games against the Rockets, it was a pleasant surprise to see it happen against a better (albeit shorthanded) team that had just badly embarrassed them in the second half three nights earlier.
Their previous win was against a shorthanded Brooklyn Nets squad at home on January 17. (Of note, that was also the last time they held an opponent to under 100 points, and last night was only third time this season.)
42 games lost when trailing entering the 4th quarter
The Spurs were 0-42 for the season when entering the fourth quarter in a hole this season, which is quite a feat to pull off considering there were surely instances when that deficit was just a point or two (not that I’m going to go back through every loss this season and do the math to find examples).
To find the last time the Spurs won a game after entering the fourth quarter trailing, you’d have to go back to last season in their 110-108 win in Golden State on March 20, 2022, where they entered the fourth quarter down 83-84. After that, they lost their remaining five games of the season when they found themselves in the same scenario, meaning their streak was sitting at 47 overall before last night.
44 games lost when trailing by 10+ points
The Spurs had not won a game all season when trailing by double digits at any point in a game, sitting at 0-44. The Jazz’s largest lead last night was 10 points at several instances, with the latest being at 68-58 following Rudy Gay free throws with 4:17 left in the third quarter.
The deficits the Spurs faced before getting their first double digit deficit comeback win tonight pic.twitter.com/asNcCk63XO— Paul Garcia (@PaulGarciaNBA) March 1, 2023
The last time the Spurs won a game after trailing by double digits was a 107-103 win over the New Orleans Pelicans on March 26, 2022, when they trailed by as many as 12 early in the second quarter before rallying back. (They nearly giving up a double-digit lead of their own in the fourth quarter before holding on for the win, but that’s neither here nor there.) The Spurs lost their remaining five games of last season when trailing by double digits (including the play-in game), meaning the streak was sitting at 49 overall before last night.
18 straight losses on the road
This was the Spurs first road victory in 2023 and their first overall since a 124-105 win in Houston on December 19. The Spurs also avoided a winless Rodeo Road Trip for the first time since its inception in 2003, although this is the third time they have only won one game in what used to be an annual winning tradition. The other two times were in 2019 (1-7) and 2022 (1-6) — ironically, the Spurs made it to the postseason in both those seasons. Going 1-8 this year makes this their worst record percentage-wise of any Rodeo Road Trip.
Not counting 2021, when the Spurs went 2-1 but had to postpone four games of the Rodeo Road Trip due to a COVID outbreak on the team, the last time the Spurs had a winning record was — shocker of the century — 2017, when they went 6-2.