The San Antonio Spurs sputtered towards the finish line as they lost by a score of 113-121 to the Los Angeles Lakers on Wednesday night.
Though it was a tightly contested matchup through three quarters, LeBron James was too hot for the Spurs to handle down the stretch. The King dropped 20 points in the final frame and 42 points overall as he took over the game when it mattered the most.
Despite holding an eight-point lead in the fourth, the Spurs once again fell short in crunch time. San Antonio has participated in an abnormal amount of close games this season, but the Silver and Black have yet to find a winning formula to close out contests.
San Antonio has gone 7-7 in tightly contested games this season. While the Spurs are clearly out of title contention, they could easily be 18-7 instead of 11-14. #GoSpursGo
— Noah Magaro-George (@N_Magaro) December 6, 2018
All-Stars DeMar DeRozan and LaMarcus Aldridge combined for 53 points while Rudy Gay chipped in a season-high 31 points of his own. It was the first time each player scored 20 points in the same game this season, but it wasn’t enough to carry San Antonio to victory.
While the stars shined in Los Angeles, the rest of the roster wilted under the bright lights. With the exception of a few standouts, San Antonio’s role players did very little to help the Spurs’ cause.
Patty Mills, Bryn Forbes and Derrick White were especially cold from long distance as the sharpshooting trio went 2-of-15 from beyond the arc. Although the point guards never found their rhythm, they took care of the ball and managed to dish out nine assists while committing just one turnover apiece.
Dimes by Derrick ? https://t.co/8Mhp2MWPW0
— San Antonio Spurs (@spurs) December 6, 2018
Davis Bertans was locked in from downtown, though foul trouble and poor defense kept him from playing more minutes. Stronger players have bullied the spindly Latvian down in the post all year long, and last night was more of the same.
Davis in transition ?
He's up to a team-high 9 PTS with three triples on the night! https://t.co/AsSzCvB5Gd
— San Antonio Spurs (@spurs) December 6, 2018
Jakob Poeltl provided more solid play in limited time following a 20-point outburst against the Utah Jazz. The former Toronto Raptor notched 6 points and 8 rebounds, but also found himself in foul trouble.
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It wasn’t a particularly good or bad game for the San Antonio Spurs. However, one major flaw stood out like a sore thumb: stagnant ball movement.
Isolation plays were at an all-time high for the Spurs and hero ball killed their ability to swing the ball around the horn. San Antonio came together for just 18 assists on their total 43 made field goals, their lowest percentage of assisted baskets in a game this year.
Clearing everyone out and handing the ball to your superstar isn’t a terrible idea if you need a quick bucket. With that said, it’s much easier to lock down an opponent if you know when, where and who’s getting the ball.
With the loss last night, the Spurs have now fallen to three games under .500 for the first time since the 2008 season. San Antonio recovered and made the playoffs that year, but I’m not so confident this team has it in them to replicate those results.
The Silver and Black sit second-to-last in the Western Conference standings and they’ve shown little to no improvements from the start of the year. Defense continues to plague San Antonio and consistency hasn’t been their strong suit.
I’m tempted to say the Spurs might be a lock for the lottery this season, but the West has been wild and anything can happen. Gregg Popovich is still head honcho in the Alamo City and if anyone can find a way to win, it’s him.
The Spurs are playing with the efficiency of a 29.3 win team.
SA ranks 10th offensively & 29th defensively.
The playoff optimist: the Spurs are 2 games out of 8th & 6.5 out of 1st out West.
The draft optimist: "The Spurs are headed toward the 8th pick in the draft now!"
— Paul Garcia (@PaulGarciaNBA) December 6, 2018
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San Antonio will have one night of rest before returning home for a rematch against Los Angeles. The Spurs took the first two games of the regular season series against LeBron and the Lakers and hopefully they can make it three out of four on Friday night.