Friday, the San Antonio Spurs suffered just their 10th loss of the season, as the New Orleans Pelicans rallied back in the second half to overcome an 11-point deficit and hang 119 points on the Spurs’ defense, which was an opponent season high in scoring against San Antonio.
While the Spurs’ loss does provide Golden State (39-7) with more separation from San Antonio (36-10) in the standings, when looking at the Spurs’ entire season thus far, San Antonio is still on pace to win 64 games this season and they’re off to the second best (tying) start in franchise history.
Taking the whole season into consideration, here are six notes regarding the Spurs’ 10 losses this season:
1 – Half of the Spurs’ losses this season have come against teams with records below .500. While an elite team is never expected to lose to a team with a losing record, in basketball, it does happen. Even the Warriors have lost to two teams below .500 this season. For contenders like the Warriors, Spurs, and Cleveland Cavaliers (just to name a few elite teams), they’re getting the best effort from below .500 teams night after night, and on any given night, the lesser team could get hot or have a few bounces go their way. It’s an 82-game season and there’s a reason no team has ever gone 82-0. Elite teams will lose games, whether it’s to teams below .500 or above.
2 – In four of the Spurs’ 10 losses this season, the Spurs actually led by double digits in those games. Those losses came against the Atlanta Hawks, Milwaukee Bucks, Phoenix Suns and Pelicans. When a team surrenders a double digit lead and ends up losing the game, this is usually a good example that coaches refer to when they say the team didn’t put together a full ‘48-minute’ game.
3 – Of the 10 teams they’ve lost to, the Spurs have also handed six of those team’s losses too. Those teams are the Utah Jazz, Rockets, Chicago Bulls, Bucks, Suns and Pelicans. As for the Hawks and Magic, the Spurs haven’t played their second game against those teams yet, but they will get their chance later in the season to try and even the series.
4 – The only team who the Spurs haven’t quite figured out in two meetings this season so far is the Los Angeles Clippers, who handed San Antonio losses with and without Blake Griffin. The Clippers have also beaten San Antonio both in Los Angeles and at the AT&T Center. So far, in the two games, the Clippers have outscored the Spurs 222-193 this season. In five of the eight quarters this season, the Clippers have scored over 25 points on the Spurs’ defense. The Spurs meanwhile have been held to 25 points or below in five of eight quarters against the Clippers’ defense. San Antonio’s last two meetings against the Clippers will come in late February and early April.
5 – The Spurs are 11-5 against teams with records above .500 this season. Here’s another way of looking at that stat – if the Spurs were in an 82-game season where the other teams were all below .500, they’d be projected to go 68-14. If they were in an 82-game season where the other teams were all above .500, San Antonio would be projected to go 56-26. A winning record against the teams above .500 is what contenders strive for, because those are the teams they’ll be seeing in the playoffs.
6 – Of the Spurs’ 10 losses this season, only four have come against teams with records above .600 (considered the upper tier teams of the NBA). The Spurs are 9-4 against the Warriors, Rockets, Cavaliers, Clippers, Jazz, Raptors and Celtics, who all have records above .600. Not only that, San Antonio has wins on the road at the Warriors, Rockets and Cavaliers.
So, while Friday’s loss for the Spurs wasn’t ideal and wasn’t to be expected, random nights where minus .500 teams beat really good teams happen. For further proof, just look at what Dion Waiters and the Miami Heat did to the Warriors this past Monday.