Summer League 2018: Observations from Spurs’ loss to Jazz

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The San Antonio Spurs opened up the 2018 Utah Jazz Summer League with a loss on Monday night, as the host Jazz rolled to a 92-76 win.

The Spurs got off to a rough start, managing just 17 points apiece in the first two quarters. San Antonio went on a 13-3 run in the fourth quarter to narrow the gap and limit the Jazz to just 13 points, but it wasn’t enough to overcome the early struggles.

“For three quarters we kind of let them dribble where they wanted to and get to their spots without much resistance. We got beat off the bounce one-on-one a lot,” coach Will Hardy said. “I thought the fourth quarter was good so we’ve got that to build on for tomorrow.”

Here are a few observations from Monday night’s loss:

Derrick White

Utah’s defense seemed to make a concerted effort on White early, and while he struggled to penetrate on drives, he eventually broke through.

White scored in a variety of ways but found the most success on drives and off-the-dribble pull-up jumpers. He was also able to surprise a few defenders who tried to defend the drive when he stopped and took a quick step-back jumper.

He was also able to shoot from range as he knocked down three of his nine three-point attempts. But what was perhaps most impressive was that White always seemed composed. He took what the defense gave him. He looked to penetrate if he had the edge on his defender, but he was aware enough to find open teammates. White finished with 22 points, seven rebounds, and six assists.

Lonnie Walker IV

It seems almost like a rite of passage for Spurs rookies to struggle in their first summer league games. It happened to Tim Duncan. It happened over a stretch for George Hill and it’s certainly taken its toll on others.

Walker was 3-of-16 from the field and 1-of-6 from beyond the arch as he started at forward, and finished with just six points.

Hardy expects Walker to take strides over summer league as he gets more comfortable, not only with playing at a different level but also playing in a new system. Now that his first game is under his belt, he also expects that the initial pressure of the first game to not be an issue.

Walker has had some issues with forcing some shots in college, and we saw a bit of that on Monday night, but we also saw some flashes of strong defensive play. He was able to stay right with Jazz players on dribble drives and force some bad shots. He also picked up a pair of steals and a blocked shot.

Brimah/Metu/Eubanks

While the Jazz easily outscored the Spurs from several areas on the court, one area the Spurs were dominant in was in the paint. Amida Brimah, Chimezie Metu, and Drew Eubanks were a big reason for that.

Aside from what they did on the offensive end, especially being the beneficiaries of accurate passes from White, they also clogged the lane and swatted several shots. Brimah and Eubanks finished with three blocks apiece, and while Metu was credited with one, it seemed like he certainly affected more than one shot.

With Hardy going with a small lineup to start, Metu and Brimah seemed like a perfect fit, because they are both athletic and mobile. Aside from being rim protectors, they also got out and defended midrange shots as well.

Metu performed well in his first professional game, also contributing 10 points and seven rebounds. Brimah, who we’re used to seeing as he was covered all last season by network site Spurs on Sixth, added nine points and nine rebounds.

Eubanks, the Oregon State alum who received a training camp contract prior to last night’s game, was limited to just 14 minutes, but he made his presence felt, and there’s a good chance he’ll see more minutes tonight against Atlanta.

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