San Antonio Spurs News

San Antonio Spurs vs. Chicago Bulls: A tale of two halves

By Albert Pérez Oyola
SAN ANTONIO, TX - DECEMBER 15: LaMarcus Aldridge #12 of the San Antonio Spurs shoots the ball against the Chicago Bulls on December 15, 2018 at the AT&T Center in San Antonio, Texas. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2018 NBAE (Photos by Mark Sobhani/NBAE via Getty Images)
SAN ANTONIO, TX - DECEMBER 15: LaMarcus Aldridge #12 of the San Antonio Spurs shoots the ball against the Chicago Bulls on December 15, 2018 at the AT&T Center in San Antonio, Texas. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2018 NBAE (Photos by Mark Sobhani/NBAE via Getty Images)
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The San Antonio Spurs blew a 21-point second-half lead at home to one of the worst teams in the NBA in the Chicago Bulls, losing 98-93. This game showcased how the Spurs’ season has gone so far, as we can’t seem to figure out which direction they’re headed.

. 93. 29. 98. 24

It was the best of halves. It was the worst of halves. It was old Spurs basketball. It was bad Spurs basketball. We had everything going for us, we had nothing going for us, we were going direct to victory, we were going direct to defeat – in short, the Spurs have us fans rather confused.

The game couldn’t have started any better. The team were hitting shots, and getting stops, although the Chicago Bulls had been missing some wide-open looks from the start and we had to know that they would begin to fall at some point during the game, especially if the defensive pressure remained the same.

Marco Belinelli looked fantastic in the first-half as he was red-hot – splashing threes from all over the court. He finished with 17 points on 6-of-8 from the field, and 5-of-7 from beyond-the-arc. LaMarcus Aldridge had an overall solid game and became a force in the paint. He scored 29 points on 10-of-16 shooting, and collected 12 rebounds.

Another look at those @marcobelinelli ?'s #GoSpursGo https://t.co/H0PNtZOfSo

— San Antonio Spurs (@spurs) December 16, 2018

The team really seemed headed to dealing another blowout at home during halftime, and even minutes after the second half had begun.

The defense took us out of things, we turned it over because of the pressure, the ball stopped moving, and at the right time they started making some shots down the stretch, which is always helpful. So they deserve a lot of credit, and it’s a real tough loss for us. – Gregg Popovich postgame.

Anyone who watched the game would have to respectfully disagree with Coach Popovich’s assessment. It’s true that the Bulls upped their defensive intensity, but the rest of their game was more or less the same quality as the first half.

The Spurs led by 19 point at the half and lost, their 2nd-largest blown halftime lead in franchise history. In Feb. of 1988, SA led by 22 points at halftime against the Warriors and lost.

— Michael C. Wright (@mikecwright) December 16, 2018

The Bulls scored 21, 22, 31, and 24 points in each quarter respectively. They shot a less field goal percentage than the Spurs (43% to 43.8%), a less three-point percentage (20.7% to 33.3%), made less threes (6 to 7), made less free-throws (18 to 22), grabbed less total rebounds (40 to 41), and had less assists (16 to 18) – and won the game.

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So what really happened? It was a different Spurs team that showed up to play in the second half. They made unforced turnovers, dribbled the basketball on their feet, or straight up lost it, easily handling it to the opponents.

Those instances will show up in the stat sheet as steals for the Bulls, and they had 12 of them. This is not to say that every steal was unforced, but the Spurs had too many such instances, which are momentum killers and confidence boosters for the other team.

This was a collapse of historic proportions as Michael C. Wright reported that this was the first time in 30 years the Spurs had led by 19 points or more and lost the game. And of course it happens now, against the lowly Bulls, during this drunk season. It goes to further cement the fact that we as fans must be ready for any outcome in this campaign.

The fact the Bulls were playing without their best player in Zach LaVine only adds to the embarrassment and magnitude of this defeat. It truly didn’t matter who they played tonight, they were destined to lose. They could’ve played the Okinawa Ryukyu Golden Kings, a team led by former Spur Jeff Ayres, and they still would’ve lost this game based on that second-half showing, so they really have no one to blame, but themselves.

Final stats ?

LaMarcus: 29 PTS | 12 REBDeMar: 21 PTS | 5 REB | 3 ASTMarco: 17 PTS | 4 REB | 2 ASTRudy: 12 PTS | 6 REB | 4 AST pic.twitter.com/bSskAA4LMq

— San Antonio Spurs (@spurs) December 16, 2018

Kris Dunn filled the void left by LaVine and took the hearts out from the fans at the AT&T Center late in the game. He appeared a cool customer, knocking down big shots to bury the Silver and Black. He finished with 24 points on 11-of-19 shooting.

Dunn had the backup of second year Finnish player Lauri Markkanen, who also came up big down the stretch and scored 23 points on 9-of-18 shooting.

Sure, we can give the Bulls credit for continuing to play and smelling blood in the water as they noticed the Spurs were simply not that interested in winning the game, or at least making the plays necessary to do so – but this is on the Spurs.

Here's Pop on San Antonio blowing lead in loss to Bulls. https://t.co/uOjlMM0YAL pic.twitter.com/m723MwQnRb

— Michael C. Wright (@mikecwright) December 16, 2018

The team had a victory nearly handed to them on a silver platter, and they shook their heads, and said “nah, we’re straight.” Now thanks to the 6-23 Chicago Bulls, the Spurs are back to playing .500 ball, 11th place in the Western Conference, and yes, just five games behind from first place. That sentence goes to show the madness that has been the NBA, the West, and this Spurs team this season.

Next. Stephen Jackson spews hot take about Manu Ginobili

Luckily for the Spurs, the lengthy home stand continues for one more game, as they face the Philadelphia 76ers on Monday, Dec. 17th at 7:30pm CST.

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