Playing their fourth game in six nights, the San Antonio Spurs were almost able to pull off a thrilling double-overtime comeback against the Atlanta Hawks on Thursday night. After another slow start, the Spurs won the final three quarters and were able to push the game into two overtimes. Sadly it would not be enough,
In the overtime periods, Trae Young was in complete control of the game. The Spurs had done an impressive job of controlling him for much of the game but in extra minutes he got loose and was crucial to the Hawks win. Call it a combination of tired legs and All-Star talent but the Spurs didn’t have an answer for Young in OT.
It’s another tally in the loss column but this was as close to a moral victory as the Spurs have had this season. The results aren’t what the players, coaches, or fans wanted but you have to be proud of how the team competed down the stretch, even as they slog through a brutal schedule.
That’s been one of the most consistent things about this year’s Spurs group. They might get down, they might have off nights, but they are never, ever going to quit.
San Antonio Spurs defined by their resilient attitude in the face of adversity
After the game, DeMar DeRozan spoke to the media about the team’s never quit attitude and he couldn’t have encapsulated the teams’ mantra better.
“All year we’ve been showing how resilient we are. We’re never going to stop fighting as long as there is time on the clock.”
He’d go on to touch on how the schedule is contributing to the fatigue that the team is feeling – something Derrick White was quick to point out as well. But both of the players didn’t use this as an excuse, they know that most of the league is dealing with similar difficulties.
This isn’t the first time that the Spurs have found themselves clawing back into a game late, and it likely won’t be the last. Sometimes these games will end as they did on Thursday and sometimes they’ll pull off a thrilling comeback like the one they managed to secure in Chicago in mid-March.
In that game, the Spurs used a +20 point fourth quarter to secure one of their most thrilling wins of the season. That’s the kind of game that this team is capable of having. But they’re not doing themselves any favors by continually putting themselves into these situations.
If you’ve watched more than a few Spurs games this season, it should be clear that slow starts are nothing new to this group. For whatever reason, they consistently have a hard time getting out of the gates on the right foot. They average 27 points in the first quarter, the 7th lowest figure in the NBA.
They’ll often use the second and third quarters to crawl back into games but they’re undone again in the fourth where they score the 8th lowest points in the NBA at 26.6. I’m not going to sugarcoat it – the teams’ inability to string together 48 minutes of consistent basketball has been incredibly frustrating to watch. But at least they’re not throwing in the towel in any of these games.
We have seen Gregg Popovich call a spade a spade and empty his bench when there is still substantial time left on the clock but these occasions are rare. He’s been much more inclined to let the veterans of the team fight to the very end.
As fans, we might disagree with the strategy the Pop employs and we might not like the on-court product but no one should ever question the heart that this team has. They struggling through unprecedented adversity but you won’t hear a word of complaint from any of the Spurs. Be frustrated if you want but that kind of resiliency demands your respect.