It was a strange night for the San Antonio Spurs, with injuries, a limited rotation and almost defeating the 2016-17 NBA MVP.
A glance at Sunday’s injury report for the San Antonio Spurs told a story — this wouldn’t be a typical game. LaMarcus Aldridge was rested. Rudy Gay had a sore heel. Tony Parker received treatment for his rehabbed quad injury. Along with Manu Ginobili getting a “DNP-Rest,” it was up to a young group of Spurs, Pau Gasol, Danny Green and Patty Mills.
Technically, it was up to the team’s youth to win this game. Gasol, Green and Mills played a combined 43 minutes, leaving the larger load for Davis Bertans, Kyle Anderson, Joffrey Lauvergne, Dejounte Murray, Brandon Paul and Bryn Forbes. All six players received more than 20 minutes each, including 39 for Murray and 33 for Forbes.
To make the situation odder, Derrick White returned and played 17 minutes, scoring 4 points on 1-for-3 shooting. He missed the previous three weeks, with a fractured right wrist. This playing time was likely an anomaly, as the missing players opened up time for the rookie guard, who will have a future in the Alamo City.
We know about Anderson’s injury. An unfortunate situation for the fourth-year pro, who had played well in Kawhi Leonard’s absence. However, someone else was banged up and bent in a wrong direction. Lauvergne suffered a gruesome, dislocated finger. Jeff McDonald of the San Antonio Express-News reported Lauvergne will need to wear a splint “for a while,” but may continue to play.
As for Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich’s reaction, it was too much for him:
— Jabari Young (@JabariJYoung) December 4, 2017
Amidst all of this, the Spurs made it a competitive game against the Oklahoma City Thunder. That included taking the lead in the fourth quarter, even with a healthy Russell Westbrook, Paul George and Carmelo Anthony. No one shot particularly well, either, aside from Bertans, who seemingly can’t miss against the Thunder. So, the close score was surprising but a treat to watch, as these limited-duty players battled perennial All-Stars and last season’s MVP winner.
Things may normalize on Monday night, when the Spurs face the Detroit Pistons. As of this writing, the organization has not released the injury report. But, it would be a surprise to at least see Aldridge and Parker sit out. Gay, depending on how the severity of his heel injury, may be a different story.