The San Antonio Spurs couldn’t escape with a win but did usher in what could be a new era of Spurs basketball as Lonnie Walker got his first career start.
Just earlier today we were calling for Lonnie Walker to be inserted into the San Antonio Spurs starting lineup and lo and behold, there he was tonight. Lonnie got his first career start for the Spurs in what would end up being a 127-118 Milwaukee Bucks victory.
Gregg Popovich threw Walker right into the fire, starting him on the road against the NBA’s best team. The results were about what you would expect. Walker put up 8 points, 2 steals, and 2 rebounds in 26 minutes. He made his share of mistakes but as we have mentioned before these are the kinds of things that the Spurs will happily live with given all of the other things he brings to the starting lineup.
The most immediate impact that Walker brought to the lineup was the flexibility it gave San Antonio on the defensive end. The Spurs were able to task Walker with guarding Khris Middleton and leave DeMar DeRozan on Wesley Matthews.
Walker played solid defense on Middleton, better than the Spurs other guards. Middleton is a big wing and manhandled Bryn Forbes and Patty Mills whenever they guarded him while Walker sat. Walker was a much tougher defender and was able to force Middleton off of his spots and did a good job contesting shots.
DeMar going to work in the second quarter!
— San Antonio Spurs (@spurs) January 5, 2020
DeMar DeRozan was the star of the show for the San Antonio Spurs tonight. He’s done a great job of getting to the rim over the past few weeks and that remained true tonight. He hit on 8 of his 14 shots and is quietly having the most accurate shooting season of his career. Thanks to his increased focus on getting looks in the paint he’s managed to connect on 52.3 percent of his shots coming into tonight’s game.
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One of the more frustrating points of tonight’s game was the contrasting halves that LaMarcus Aldridge put together. After a hot start, LaMarcus cooled off and couldn’t find the bottom of the basket in the second half. The silver lining of his performance tonight was his shooting from behind the arc.
LaMarcus has been letting it fly from behind the arc over the past few games and it’s really helping the Spurs. He knocked down four of his seven long-distance attempts tonight and has hit on 67 percent of his three-point shots over San Antonio’s past six games. His three-point shooting has been a revelation for this team and will only continue to help them going forward.
Another positive takeaway for Spurs from this loss is how they went about defending Giannis Antetokounmpo. It won’t be immediately visible in the box score but San Antonio did a good job defending Giannis tonight.
The contested everything and forced the ball out of his hands whenever they could. He did go to the charity stripe 18 times but given that he’s shot 60 percent from there coming into tonight’s game it wasn’t a bad strategy by any means. He still ended the game with 32 points but he’s the reigning MVP, you expect that kind of night from him.
The San Antonio Spurs will get another crack at Giannis and the Bucks when they host them in San Antonio on Monday night.