SAN ANTONIO – San Antonio Spurs Head Coach Gregg Popovich said before Saturday’s game his team defensively has not been the same as it was the beginning of the season. After watching his team lose to the New Orleans Pelicans despite scoring 100-plus points was a sign.
It was deja vu for Pop and the Spurs as they collapsed in the fourth quarter, falling 116-112 to the Los Angeles Lakers (28-34) at the AT&T Center, losing the second game of a three-game homestand.
San Antonio played without LaMarcus Aldridge, who missed the game with a right ankle sprain, as well as Kawhi Leonard.
Here is what went good and bad for the Spurs, as well as three standout players: Pau Gasol, Dejounte Murray, and Patty Mills.
- San Antonio began the game with aggressiveness and energy. The Spurs opened the game shooting 56 percent and led 30-23 after the first quarter.
- Joffrey Lauvergne had another solid night with 8 points, 9 rebounds, and 2 steals in 15 minutes of work.
- Dejounte Murray continues to show his growth. More on that in a moment.
- Rudy Gay had another nice outing with 15 points on the night, including a late three-pointer to cut the deficit to two points with 5.5 seconds left in regulation.
- The Spurs defense did a terrible job on Lakers rookie Lonzo Ball, who went 6-for-10 from three-point range, finishing with 18 points. Ball hit two of his six threes in the final minutes of the fourth quarter.
- San Antonio collapsed in the final 12 minutes for the second straight game. The Lakers outscored the Spurs 36-21 in the fourth and went on a 12-0 run to cut the Spurs’ 15-point lead to take a two-point lead with 4:46 left in regulation.
- Davis Bertans may have had a nice scoring game with 11 points, but he did commit three turnovers. Two of those turnovers came in the middle of the 12-0 run by the Lakers in the second half.
- The loss saw the Spurs drop to sixth in the West and could possibly go as low as 9th if they lose a few more games. For the first time in a long time, the NBA Playoffs are questionable in San Antonio.
Three Standout Players:
Pau Gasol: Without LaMarcus Aldridge and Kawhi Leonard, the Spurs went early and often to the veteran center, looking for him to be the main source of offense.
Gasol has publicly stated he enjoys playing against his old club and his stats backed that up on Saturday. He finished with a team-high 19 points, 10 rebounds, and 8 assists. Gasol played well in his return to the court after missing a game with a knee injury. He found the open man, clogged the paint with help on Julius Randle, and overall was a key piece in the Spurs going up 17.
Dejounte Murray: Saturday night saw the growth of Dejounte Murray take another step in the right direction as he went up against Ball late in the game.
Murray finished with 12 points and seven rebounds, but his biggest contribution was on the defensive side of the ball. He had three steals and showed flashes of Kawhi Leonard’s style of aggressiveness. On the offensive side, he showed his patience with the ball. He no longer just goes head first into the paint. Instead, he takes his time, sets up the offense, and runs a play. Much better growth from the second year player and it will only make him better over time.
Patty Mills: Ever since taking Danny Green’s spot in the starting lineup, the Spurs fan favorite seems to have been reborn scoring wise.
Mills finished Saturday’s game with 14 points on 6-of-12 shooting but went just 1-for-5 from three-point range. There is no doubt that Patty has been much better in the shooting guard starting role and has scored on a consistent basis. Now if San Antonio just needs to get healthy and fast.
The Spurs are now 36-27 on the season and will return to the court on Monday night when they welcome the Memphis Grizzlies (18-44) to the AT&T Center at 7:30 p.m. to close out their three-game homestand.