Spurs: How to respond to blowout loss against the Detroit Pistons

Lonnie Walker IV of the San Antonio Spurs. (Photo by Chris Schwegler/NBAE via Getty Images)
Lonnie Walker IV of the San Antonio Spurs. (Photo by Chris Schwegler/NBAE via Getty Images) /

The San Antonio Spurs got run off the floor against the Detroit Pistons on Sunday afternoon, here’s how they can respond.

Between the winding down from the holiday weekend and the full slate of NFL games, the best thing about the San Antonio Spurs embarrassing loss to the Detroit Pistons was that not many tuned in to see it happen. Playing without LaMarcus Aldridge and on the road made this a tough outing but it’s not that the Spurs lost the game that’s frustrating. It’s how they did it.

A consistent issue this year for the Spurs has been their slow start to games. That made the ugly beginning of this one a bit more palatable as it’s what we’ve come to expect from San Antonio. That said, they looked like they would be able to recover as their guards got going.

Bryn Forbes struggled from the get-go but between Derrick White and DeMar DeRozan, it seemed like the Spurs would get enough from their backcourt to keep them in the game. Both hit three’s in the first half which was a very encouraging sign. Sadly that trend would not continue as the game went on.

A bit more on DeRozan’s performance from behind the arc. Over the last two games, DeRozan has attempted as many three-pointers as he had all season leading up to that point. That sounds good but is significantly less impressive when you dig deeper and realize that that’s still just four three-point attempts over the past two contests. DeRozan himself will tell you that it’s not about an inability to make three’s, it’s just that he’s not taking them.

DeMar on knocking down his 1st 3 of season: "I just don’t shoot ‘em. It’s not a matter of I can’t shoot ‘em, just never shoot them. But whenever I get the opportunity, I am going to shoot them. I don’t mind missing, I don’t mind whatever. It’s just a matter of me shooting ‘em."

— Tom Orsborn (@tom_orsborn) November 30, 2019

The above quote comes from after the inspiring win over the LA Clippers on Friday in which DeMar made his first three of the season. It’s great that he doesn’t mind missing them and will shoot them when the opportunity arises but that still might not be enough.

As a team, the Spurs struggle mightily from behind the arc. As one of their most influential and consistent offensive players, DeRozan has the leeway to chase his own shot a bit more than others. Rather than wait for the opportunity to come to him it could help if he sought opportunities out to shoot the long ball or had a quicker trigger from deep. Clearly this team is going to have to pull themselves back into more games as the season goes along, so why not let it fly?

Since getting his first start of the season against the Washington Wizards on November 20th, Jakob Poeltl has been throwing himself a block party. He’s sent back 16 shots since then and has proven that he deserves to be the Spurs starter going forward alongside LaMarcus. His contributions on offense remain limited but if the Spurs guards continue to allow opponents a clear path to the rim then San Antonio needs someone like Poeltl there to meet them.

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Finally, San Antonio, the Spurs coaching staff, in particular, can respond to this embarrassing loss by finally relenting and giving Lonnie Walker the playing time that he deserves. He played a season-high 16 minutes in this one and made the most out of it. Lonnie was gunning whenever he was on the floor, making 6 of his 12 shot attempts.

His performance yesterday was a stark contrast to his very limited playing time on Friday. There’s understandably going to be a difference in playing time between a home game against the Clippers and road contest against the Pistons but a more consistency with his minutes going forward could be beneficial.

San Antonio is approaching the tipping point of the season. Admittedly we said that last year around this time as well and then the Spurs responded with an incredibly strong month of December to crawl back into the playoffs. But this team’s issues are greater and more numerous. If this is the year that the historic playoff streak ends it would be better to see it end with Lonnie Walker seeing more playing time rather than sitting on the bench.

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San Antonio does get another three-game homestand to get things back on track. It won’t be easy though. First up is the Houston Rockets who just recently hung 158 points on the Hawks. This one could be another ugly loss for the Spurs.