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Offensive struggles doom Spurs again in loss to Nets

Spurs can’t find an offensive rhythm in 7th straight loss.

San Antonio Spurs v Brooklyn Nets Photo by Elsa/Getty Images

With just a week until the All-Star break, the San Antonio Spurs traveled to Brooklyn on the third game of their rodeo road trip. In consecutive losses to the Miami Heat and Orlando Magic, the Silver and Black looked to be hitting a wall. That trend continued against the Nets, as the Spurs were blown out 123-103.

It was a tough offensive night for San Antonio. They couldn’t find a rhythm all game, struggling to get to the basket, or find Victor Wembanyama on the low block. Brooklyn was physical with the rookie all game, making every catch, post-up and drive difficult. The Spurs weren’t able to find much of an offensive flow when they weren’t able to get their star the ball.

The led to another night where they shot under 40% from the field, hitting just 36 of their 91 attempts. They shot 32.4% from deep, and would have shot worse if it weren’t for a hot stretch from Wembanyama. They were outscored in the paint 58 to 44 and turned the ball over 14 times.

Despite the tough defense from Brooklyn, Wembanyama was able to break through for some good looks. He had a few nice post moves against Nic Claxton and Dorian Finney-Smith, and hit smooth jumpers over the top of Ben Simmons. The rookie finished the game with 21 points and 4 rebounds.

Brooklyn was red-hot from three-point range, crushing any Spurs run with a barrage of deep balls. They hit 17 threes at a 50% clip. The Nets shot 56.3% from deep overall. Cam Thomas led the way for Brooklyn, scoring 25 points including 5 three-pointers. Claxton and Dennis Schroeder both posted double-doubles, with the big man putting up 20 points and 11 rebounds, while the guard had 15 points and 12 assists.

The Spurs got some solid performances from their bench unit. Keldon Johnson was able to get downhill against the Nets wings, scoring 19 points on 7-14 shooting. Blake Wesley provided his usual jolt of energy with 6 points and 2 steals. The second-year guard also had one of the Spurs best dunks of the game.

San Antonio will cross the northern border for a game with the Toronto Raptors on Monday. It’s a game that will likely have some lottery implications for the Spurs, who own the Raptors first-round pick if it falls out of the top-6.

Game Notes:

  • Gregg Popovich benched Zach Collins in the first half and went to Dominick Barlow for the rest of the game. He told reporters after the game: “He (Barlow) was very active and we like to reward things like that.” Barlow had 7 points and 9 rebounds in his 12 minutes. Collins struggled to make an impact in just 7 minutes, scoring 2 points and going 0-2 from the field with 3 fouls.
  • The Spurs struggles from the three-point line have been well-documented. They are the worst three-point shooting team in the NBA. That lack of spacing has damaged their offensive game, making it tough to find driving lanes. Jeremy Sochan’s once respectable jump shot has regressed to the mean, as he’s down to 34% shooting from deep on the year. Julian Champagnie has been streaky all season. Even one of their premier shooters, Devin Vassell is only shooting 36.4% from deep. Without Doug McDermott, they’ll need a reliable shooter or two to step up.
  • It looked personal for Claxton against Wembanyama on Saturday. The big man went right at the rookie, putting the ball through him on a few possessions. This is what Wemby can expect on most night. The hype around him means other bigs are going to target him. As the fatigue of a long NBA season sets in, he might have a few nights like this in the future.