Tonight the San Antonio Spurs opened the regular season against a Charlotte Hornets team lacking LaMelo Ball. They were greeted with eager energy and support from the fans to see what the young core could bring to the table.
ITSSSSSS GAMEDAYYYYYY SAN ANTONIO! 😤😤😤
Season Opener. Tonight. 7pm. AT&T Center. Charlotte Hornets.
Place A GIF ⬇️ Of How Basketball Season Makes You Feel #NBA #GoSpursGo pic.twitter.com/0Ly1MmXnpj
— Project Spurs (@projectspurs) October 19, 2022
They got a quick notice that although they may be young and developing there is no remorse from the opposing end. We saw traditional skills from individual players but their chemistry on the court may be what keeps them from overcoming opponents as a group.
The biggest lesson for the team tonight is, slow and steady does NOT always win the race. While learning that lesson, the San Antonio Spurs fell to the Hornets 102-129.
Tre Jones after loss tonight: “The way we started the game, I feel like we came out a little soft. They hit us in the mouth early, and we were fighting from behind the entire night. Coming out stronger and not playing from behind the entire game, we just have to learn from it.”
— Paul Garcia (@PaulGarciaNBA) October 20, 2022
The Spurs came out the gate hard, but not running, allowing the Hornets to build a double-digit lead early in the first quarter. With mostly fast break shots the Hornets were able to outpace the Spurs on the offensive end.
Strong shooting performances from Hornets Rozier and Washington kept the score increasing for the Hornets while the Spurs struggled at three-point shot attempts and succeeding in the paint.
Guard Devin Vassell is known to have a precise arm but struggled to knock down his usual corner threes in the first half. He made it to the free throw line often yet wasn’t able to put both shots inconsistently.
This isn’t the Vassell his peers think we should get used to. When point guard Tre Jones was questioned about Vassel’s green light he said this to reassure the media.
“We know he’s one of our main scorers this year out there on the wing, him and Keldon. We’re going to keep feeding it to him; you know it’s my job to try and get him easy looks, try to get him into the sports he wants to be in especially earlier in the game. Once he starts hitting them we will definitely look a lot better.”
To Tre, it’s only a matter of time because Vassell puts in the work and already has the shooting confidence to with it.
KJ with a game-high 17 and counting 🔥 pic.twitter.com/MngPmxpDpi
— San Antonio Spurs (@spurs) October 20, 2022
Jakob Poeltl was the second top scorer of the night with 14 points but still seemed to have difficulty reading passes and navigating cuts from his teammates.
When I asked Jakob in practice this past Saturday what were some of the biggest adjustments he’s had to make since the new addition and subtraction of teammates; this is what he told the media.
“I think the biggest difference for me is that we’re running a little bit less pick-and-roll. If we do run pick-and-roll it’s a little different than last year.”
“Last year it was a lot of just pocket passes between me and DJ ( Dejuonte Murray), I knew exactly how to play with DJ. So adjusting to that; our new ball handlers and our new point guards out there…we want to get that chemistry going and I think it’s getting better every day.”
In the third quarter, fans got a glimpse of that steady chemistry and the light seemed to shine brighter. The veterans came out to close a 21-point lead down.
With higher intensity on offense and pressure defense on the Hornets, they were able to cut the lead by ten. Keldon Johnson walked away with a double-double last night with 20 points, 11 being in the third quarter, and 11 rebounds.
The Spurs Need A Spark Off The Bench
However, the 11 turnovers in the first half, and the Spurs bench not being able to keep up the level of vigor will leave the Spurs to play catch up in the fourth quarter.
Spurs forward Doug McDermott addressed the slip-up with the media post-game. Here is what he had to say about the mentality of the bench.
“That little slip-up was kind of on the bench. I don’t think we came in ready to play when our starters got us to 12. We just didn’t have a lot of urgencies.”
“It seems everyone is following Johnson’s lead when it comes to remaining energetic through the battle, but if one shall play hard one must play clean. McDermott said it best:
“It’s a small margin for error in this league. You can go on some runs, but they can be taken away really quickly.”
We can’t expect a neat and tidy game from a squad where the majority of its players are younger than most of the men on the University of Texas at San Antonio’s basketball team.
Team leaders, including Coach Pop himself, have expressed that becoming coordinated with one another comes with time. What has Spurs fans in a bind is just how much time it will take.
Well, you can’t rush the process. We must enjoy the story that is to unfold and celebrate their strengths.