AT&T CENTER – Coming into Wednesday’s matchup between the San Antonio Spurs and Chicago Bulls, the Bulls were 10-4 in the New Year and were holding teams to 93.1 points per game during that stretch. The Spurs on the other hand, started a shooting guard who has made trips to Austin and back (Nando De Colo), and they also started a player who is on a 10-day contract (Othyus Jeffers.)
“With a lot of guys out, our consistency just isn’t there,” said Spurs forward Tim Duncan (17 points, 12 rebounds) of his team’s 96-86 loss to the Bulls after 48 minutes of play. “We can’t sustain during periods of time when we need to,” continued Duncan. On a night when the Spurs turned the ball over 19 times due to many different lineups that weren’t accustomed to playing together, it was a specific third quarter run by the Bulls that helped Chicago take command of the game.
Then, with 3:30 left in the third quarter, the Spurs were only down one point (56-55) to the Bulls, but their defense would slip and allow Chicago to go on an 11-2 run to take a 10 point lead with 1:27 left in the quarter. When the third quarter ended, the Spurs found themselves down by seven points. In the fourth, the Bulls jumped out to a quick 13-point lead a minute and a half into the quarter, and the Spurs couldn’t claw their way back into the game as the Bulls’ lead reached its peak at 15 points, before Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich had to pull his core players in the final two minutes.
“About midway there they just lost the consistency,” said Popovich of his squad midway through the third quarter. “It wasn’t there as a group. The group didn’t play good defense. They took advantage of it and they scored. We just couldn’t get back in it or get anything to go down.”
For the Spurs, Wednesday marked their third loss in a row, something that they’re not used to this season. “It’s tough right now,” said Tony Parker (20 points, 6 assists) after the game, “(on a ) back to back, we had no energy. We had some good looks in the first half but they just didn’t go in. We tried to fight through in the second half.”
“We’re not going to make excuses, everybody gets injuries,” continued Parker. “We’ll find solutions, we have two days. We need to find a rhythm. We’ll get it, we just have to stay positive.”
Through the first half, the Spurs’ defense was playing well enough to win, but in the second half, they gave up back-to-back 28 point quarters. A key reason for the Bulls’ points was the Spurs’ turnovers (19) and the Bulls’ ability to score in the paint (52-26 Chicago in the paint) and draw fouls, as Chicago shot 23 free throws. For the Spurs, playing a top-5 defense in Chicago with unfamiliar lineups and players, they shot 46.5% on the night, but only accumulated 16 assists. Being on the road and suffering the recent losses while trying to give unfamiliar players more minutes and responsibility will be an adjustment going forward.
Parker hurt as well
After the game, Tony Parker said he got banged up against the Houston Rockets on Tuesday in his thigh area. He said he now has minor injuries to his thigh, shin, and hand, but he added, “I can’t take no risk (of resting), we already have four guys out.”
The Comedic Duncan on upcoming All-Star selection
In the locker room, Duncan was asked if he’ll be watching the All-Star reserve selection show on Thursday, to which Duncan responded in a serious tone, “I don’t know what channel that is (on). I’ll probably be watching cartoon network.”
Where San Antonio Stands
· Regular Season: 33-13
· Home Record: 17-8
· Vs. Opponents with +.500 records: 18-12
· Vs. the Eastern Conference: 13-4
(All stats used via NBA.com/Stats)