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What We Learned from the Spurs loss to the Bulls

A Wembanyamaless Spurs squad comes up short

Chicago Bulls s v San Antonio Spurs Photo by Ronald Cortes/Getty Images

It’s easy to write off a game without Victor Wembanyama’s presence. It’s a nice reason to relax and free yourself from the constraints of trying to make sure the Spurs are doing everything in their power to correctly develop the large Frenchman. I get it. I understand the notion and if you opted to try and figure out how to watch playoff football on Peacock instead of locking in with the Silver & Black as they tussle with the go nowhere Bulls on the second end of a back to back, well, I respect your decision. But we here at Pounding the Rock have an ironclad “NEVER STOP LEARNING” policy and thus, we must forge ahead with our education.

Thank goodness we did because, wouldn’t you know it, the rest of the squad actually put on a bit of a display for us. It wasn’t exactly pretty and it wasn’t exactly tape that we need to send off to the basketball hall of fame or anything, but for those of us trying to shift through these games for bit of gold that might offer a path to a brighter tomorrow, there was a lot to like. There was scoring from unexpected places, there was great defensive effort, and there was even a third quarter that didn’t make me want to go stand in traffic.

It was almost everything you want to see from a young team like this. They competed in every facet of the game and almost never looked overwhelmed. The inexperience maybe started to peek it’s head through the clouds there in the end as the Bulls were able regain control of the ship and steer off into clearer waters, but that can only be helped so much. There’s only one way to fix the inexperience bug currently plaguing the franchise, right?

Five games in a row. FIVE! It’s not a win streak or anything like that, but it’s five games in a row filled with basketball we can be proud of. Five games in a row where we aren’t just having to bathe ourselves in Wemby highlights in order to keep the intrusive “wait, does everyone else stink?” vibes at bay. That’s important stuff for pretty much everyone even tangentially involved with the franchise.

You can feel the difference. It’s like someone adjusted the focus on the binoculars we’re watching through. Everything is just sharper and clearer than it was before. I don’t think a lightbulb went on in their heads or anything, I just think that the work they’re putting in is starting to pay off. Guy’s are gelling with one another. They are feeling comfortable in the system and in their roles. It even seems like they might be having a little fun out there! Heady stuff!

Look, they could come out on Monday and have a stinker. That option is still very much alive in the playbook and its going to be so important that we don’t fall to pieces when it happens. They are all still young and raw and inexperienced and that doesn’t go away over night. But we’re allowed to delight in this. Good basketball. Competitive basketball. FUN basketball.

I never thought I’d say this about an 8 point loss to a below .500 Bulls team, but, we used to dream about night’s like this. Let’s enjoy it.


  • I’m happy for Tre Jones. I’m psyched that he’s taken the opportunity he’s been given and chosen to ball out with it. He obviously works hard and that hard work is paying off for him and, frankly, it’s paying off for the Spurs. I had a blast watching him catch fire in this game and its hard to imagine a world where the Spurs don’t continue to get him the rock and let him ply his trade out there. I think with the way the Spurs have handled his situation this year, they basically put the onus on him to make his play so loud that they couldn’t ignore him anymore. Congrats to Tre for never shutting up.
  • In the same breath, I would like to stress that I really do not want to listen to any conversation about how “if the Spurs had just been starting him all season they would be blah blah blah.” I just...I don’t want to hear it. Maybe they would have won a few more games and maybe they wouldn’t have. Causation and Correlation can take their casual relationship elsewhere as far as I’m concerned. The Spurs are clearly working on a Macro project with the way they’ve handled their personnel this year it’s going to be a minute before we see if the fruits of that labour pan out. In any case, it’s possible that the best thing for this franchise was for Jeremy Sochan to get reps at the point guard position to start the year even if it meant the Spurs lost a lot of games in the process. It’s also possible that Tre Jones is really good and probably deserves to have more playing time and a more significant role moving forward. I, for one, am a huge fan of chewing gum and walking at the same time.
  • Sandro Mamukelashvili maybe wasn’t the best player on the court for either team tonight, but I think he also made me smile more than anyone else who touched the floor and I think that deserves to show up on the box score somewhere. The way he raggedly ran the floor in transition, caught a pass by the three point line, and flung himself at the basket for a cutting layup? That’s art. The way he took the ball from outside the arc, threw a spin move into the mix before getting stripped and then eventually draining a fadeaway? Well, apologies to everyone, but that’s also art. Casually stepping into a three and holding the lefty follow through while swagging backwards down the court? Ladies and guessed it. Art.

WWL Post Game Press Conference

- What did you think of Victor’s white turtleneck sweater over on the bench tonight?

- It’s really hard to judge fashion on a guy as proportionally outlandish as our guy. Everything looks cool and insane in equal measure.

- Didn’t you make a name for yourself critiquing the fashion of Tim Duncan for an entire season?

- First of all, I didn’t critique it, I chronicled it. But yes, I did win many awards for that project, thanks for reminding me. Second of all, Tim is a different animal from a body type situation. He proportionally nets out like a normal human, he only looks insane when you see him sitting next to an actual normal human, which was often the case during his brief coaching stint.

- So, for now, you’re going to refrain from any fashion commentary on Wemby?

- Yea. I mean, you know how the Spurs are like, trying to figure out how to throw him lobs because he’s so big that they just aren’t used to throwing the ball that high?

- Sure.

- Well, yea, that’s how I feel about his clothes. I need time to adjust. Generally my rule is that if you’re going to go turtleneck, then you absolutely have to be going for the “just clocked out of my shift at the Lighthouse” look. When Wemby where’s a resplendent, perfect, snow white Louis Vuitton turtle neck he....I mean, he sort of just looks like the Lighthouse itself.

- That’s a lot to process.

- You’re telling me.

Chicago Bulls v San Antonio Spurs Photos by Darren Carroll/NBAE via Getty Images