The San Antonio Spurs lost to the Utah Jazz at home Monday night, 110-104. Through the efforts of the very end of the Spurs’ bench, San Antonio avoided a 15-point loss. The game was never that close and was overall a lackluster performance for the surging Spurs.
Poor shooting, subpar defense, and a complete inability to score off of turnovers were the main reasons the Spurs lost, although there were some takeaways that can help the Spurs move forward.
1. The Spurs Need to Adjust for Dominant Bigs
Rudy Gobert is one of the best centers in the league and a very imposing presence in the paint. Unfortunately, the San Antonio Spurs lead the league in points scored in the paint, so a large part of their game is cut off just by having a 7-1 Frenchman standing in their way.
Rather than rely on a barrage of 3-pointers to make up for the lack of opportunities in the paint, the Spurs instead opted to shoot their average of 30 shots from deep a game, making only ten of them. The Spurs are ninth in 3-point percentage in the entire league, so why they largely ignored the three-point shot is beyond me.
Lonnie Walker made a few nice pull-up jumpers from mid-range, but a lot of the Spurs’ 55 missed shots seemed to come from Derrick White driving and dishing to Jakob Poeltl. The issue with this strategy is Jakob spent most of the game within spitting distance of Gobert, forcing him to take little floaters and hook shots instead of going up strong at the basket. Jakob had 10 points on 5/11 shooting, which is not great, to say the least.
Poeltl also shot 0-for-2 from the charity stripe, which brought the team down to 4/9. The Spurs should have driven and kicked to find open 3-point shooters in the corner like Devin Vassell, Keldon Johnson, or Joshua Primo.
Another solution would have been to give Jock Landale more than 16 minutes. Yes, he was cold from deep tonight, only going 1/5, but his ball-handling, spacing, and better-than-league-worst free throw shooting would have been a welcome addition to the loss.