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 19: More fourth quarter woes extended the Spurs franchise-record losing streak to 16 after the All-Star Break.
Well, I predicted last week the Spurs would not only bust their 16-game losing streak, but win two games this week as well. I wasn’t wrong; I just wouldn’t have predicated it if I knew both games against the equally bad Rockets would be losses. That being said, I did predict they would win their second game of a miniseries against the Jazz to close the Rodeo Road Trip just because the previous loss was one the Spurs knew they blew and would be out for revenge. That’s exactly what happened, with Keldon Johnson leading the way in the clutch and the Spurs getting a strong performance off the bench from Doug McDermott. The win busted more than just a losing streak: it also represented their first game won this season when any point in the game by double-digits or behind entering the fourth quarter.
Next, the Spurs finally returned home after four weeks on the road, and joining them in their first game back was Devin Vassell and Tre Jones, who had both been out for extended periods due to injury. While both came off the bench, Vassell in particular provided a spark, joining Zach Collins (who deserves credit for holding Myles Turner in check) and Devonte’ Graham with 18 points apiece, but Jeremy Sochan stole the show with an electric second half performance while posting his first career double-double. This was also the second game in a row the Spurs won despite getting behind by double digits.
The two wins felt great, but it also brought fear the Spurs might pull out of a bottom three spot in the standings, especially with two straight games against the one team in the league with a worse record than them and whom they had already beaten twice this year. But fear not! They didn’t let that happen. Between some “injury management” and the Spurs reverting back to the bad habits that had plagued them during their losing streak — such as not taking care of the ball and poor transition defense — the Rockets torched them two nights in a row, and just like that, they’re back to tied (in the loss column) with Houston and Detroit for the for the worst record in the league.
Kudos to the Spurs: they let the fans (and more importantly, the players) experience the taste of victory again before making sure the wins didn’t get too out of hand, all while forcing the Rockets to catch back and keeping the Hornets three games away. Masterful job all around.
John Schuhmann, NBA.com — 29 (last week: 30)
OffRtg: 109.5 (29) DefRtg: 119.6 (30) NetRtg: -10.2 (30) Pace: 101.7 (6)
The Spurs didn’t have to play the Rockets to end their 16-game losing streak, because they beat the Jazz and Pacers early last week. They also didn’t have to shoot well from deep to end the streak; they were 18-for-58 (31%) from 3-point range over the two games, but held both opponents (one of them with a top-five offense) under a point per possession. The Spurs were previously 0-44 when they faced a double-digit deficit, and they trailed the two games by 10 and 11 points, respectively. But they actually pulled off two comebacks, outscoring Utah and Indy by 19.5 points per 100 possessions over the two second halves.
And it’s a good thing that the Spurs didn’t need to beat the Rockets to end the streak because they couldn’t beat the Rockets in either of their two games over the weekend. The Rockets ranked 29th offensively through Friday, just a tick better than the 30th-ranked Hornets. But they scored 131.3 points per 100 possessions and outscored the Spurs by 56 points in the paint (148-92) over the home-and-home series.
The Spurs did get Devin Vassell back last week, but eight of their top guys (four on Saturday, four on Sunday) didn’t play one of the two games against Houston. We’ll see if anybody needs a day off after a four-day break, with the Spurs’ longest homestand of the season (six games over 10 days) beginning on Friday. They had the lead or were within a possession at the end of the third quarter in each of their two games against the Thunder this season, but were outscored by 30 points (66-36) over the two fourth quarters. The third and final meeting is Sunday night.
Zach Harper, The Athletic — 2 (last week: 30)
Weekly slate: Win at Jazz, Win over Pacers, Loss to Rockets, Loss at Rockets
2021-22 win total: 34
Preseason over/under: 22.5
Pace last time we checked in: 28.7
Any changes to how we feel? A little 16-game losing streak helped bring their win total pace down to just under 21 for the season. The Spurs have become very serious about the tanking process. Sorry, please ignore that sentence. They’ve become very serious about player development. Just let Keldon Johnson go do stuff. Yes, they won two games this past week to break that losing streak, but they followed it up by losing two games to the unserious Rockets by a combined 44 points.
Prior confidence on the over: 6.5/10
New confidence on the over: 0.5/10
Colin Ward-Henninger, CBS Sports — 29 (last week: 30)
They did it! The Spurs snapped their 16-game losing streak with not one, but two wins over quality teams in the Jazz and Pacers ... then they dropped two straight to the Rockets. Oh well. Devonte’ Graham is looking like a solid pickup, as he put up 18 points per game on 46 percent 3-point shooting for the week.
Prediction: 0-2 — I’m definitely not as confident this week as last, even though with four days off they should have something close to resembling a full roster for the first time since who knows when. (Whether they use it or not is another story.) Even though the Spurs have put up decent performances against both these teams this season, the Nuggets are in a tier of their own on top of the West, and the Thunder just aren’t a good matchup. Not to mention, that last game in Houston looked too much like the version of the Spurs who are totally incapable of winning a game.