The San Antonio Spurs beat the LA Clippers 116-92 on Monday in LA, coming off a brutal loss to the Kings the night before. Clearly, the plane ride from Sacramento to Los Angeles kicked the Spurs into gear because they looked good all game, never giving up the lead after taking it very early in the game.
The Spurs' starters played very well and were complemented by the bench. All around, it was a fabulous team effort that should be the gold standard going forward. The Spurs shot 50/114, including 12/37 from deep, which can hopefully be continued as the road trip carries on.
In what was an overwhelmingly positive performance, three things stuck out as remarkably good.
Jock Landale Is A Very Good Backup Center
Maybe “very good” is pushing it, but Jock Landale has been surprisingly solid since returning from Austin. In 14 minutes, he scored eight points and paired it with five rebounds, one assist, and a block. His shooting was deadeye from the start, and jumping in midway through the first quarter, the Spurs were already winning, but he helped a winning effort become a blowout.
Jakob Poeltl is one of the best centers in the league, but his inability to score from outside the paint has been the only place his game has been lacking. Jock Landale, while admittedly not nearly as good as Jak, provides spacing the Spurs can use off the bench.
In the last four games, he’s put up 5.3 points, 0.5 assists, three rebounds, 0.5 blocks, and shot 50%. Drew Eubanks has scored 1.3 points, had 0.5 assists, and had two rebounds in the same amount of time. While I am not on the “cut Eubanks” bandwagon, having a second option off the bench at the center is always a good thing, and when Zack Collins returns, the Spurs could have the deepest frontcourt rotation in the league.
Keldon Johnson Should Be Invited to the 3-Point Shootout
After shooting 2/3 from deep on Monday, Keldon Johnson is shooting 46.7% on the season, and that’s including his very cold start of the season. He’s 2nd in 3-point percentage in the league, which is shocking given his reputation as a head-down driver.
While I do thoroughly enjoy the anticipation of a Big Body slam, being a spot-up shooter in the corner is much more practical. Between Vassell, Johnson, McDermott, and Forbes, the Spurs have four players who can rain threes all night. Forbes and Johnson are both in the top 12 in 3-point percentage, with Forbes coming in at 13th.
This much was expected from Forbes, who has carved out a career in shooting and shooting alone. Johnson never had a reputation as a deep threat, but Monday night was the icing on the cake.
Dejounte Murray is the Best Point Guard in the League
Okay, okay, this might be a stretch as well. But maybe it’s time we have a serious conversation about Dejounte Murray being the best point guard in the game? He’s is now tied with Nikola Jokic for first in the league with six triple-doubles this season, and is the first Spur ever to record six in a season.
Oh, he’s also only 25 and suffered an ACL tear, which is probably the worst basketball injury one can reasonably sustain.
I’m sure we can all agree that the top five point guard list looks something like this: Stephen Curry, Chris Paul, Luka Doncic, Trae Young, and Ja Morant. Let’s throw Murray into the mix. Out of those six players, he’s fifth in points, fourth in assists, first in rebounds, second in steals, and third in blocks. He is also fifth in offensive win shares and third in defensive win shares.
His 24 point triple-double against the Clippers only help his case. While the best point guard conversation is very top-heavy, it’s time Murray got his name in the conversation.
He spent most of the game against the Clippers game being guarded by Eric Bledsoe and Paul George, who have six NBA All-Defensive team nods between the two of them. Murray is doing this on some of the best defenses in the league. It’s time he got his recognition.