The San Antonio Spurs fell to the Atlanta Hawks, 137-135, on Thursday night, extending their losing streak to 13 games. Despite coming up short in crunch time, this young team showcased significant improvements as Jeremy Sochan notched his best outing of the season.
"It was an all-around performance," the guard assured the media in a gloomy tone. "There were things I could have done better, but it was a pretty good game.”
Sochan fits the mold best when he is not the main delegator. Playing off-ball allows him room to roam the court and exploit vacancies in the opposing defense. He finished this matchup with a loaded stat line, recording a career-high 33 points, eight rebounds, and six assists. Yet, the individual accolades didn't seem to eclipse the pain of another loss.
Finishing November with a 1-13 record stings, but Head Coach Gregg Popovich remained optimistic when speaking about the effort he witnessed from his team in this contest.
"There are things all night long we can learn from, but the competitiveness was great." Popovich said. "Their execution is better all the time."
Trae Young scored 20 of his 45 points in the third quarter, shooting 8-of-11 from the field. Meanwhile, San Antonio lost the turnover battle four to none. The point guard's sneaky run almost made it irrelevant that both parties drew even with 39 points apiece in the period. The Spurs faced the challenge of recuperating after forfeiting the lead to Atlanta in the final frame, and defending Young down the stretch was a massive hurdle.
"You get to fourth quarters and the great players take over," Coach Pop said. "That has been difficult for us. Trae had his way in the third quarter. Down the stretch, making plays for us is going to be more difficult than some other teams for a variety of reasons. But their character is great, and their competitiveness is off the charts."
Some basketball fans may not pay close attention to the minute details of player development. Despite improvements, many people may view discussing the team's progress as redundant. However, it is crucial to understand that the more these youngsters improve over the season, the greater their chances of success. Whether that materializes in the near or distant future, it all comes down to how well they perform on the court.
The Silver and Black hit the road last night for their upcoming matchup with Zion Williamson and the Pelicans. With a 7-4 home record, New Orleans is a formidable opponent, and given the Spurs will be on the second night of a back-to-back, it seems unlikely they will walk away with a win. If San Antonio continues their losing skid, their next opportunity to bounce back will be Wednesday night when they take on the Minnesota Timberwolves at Target Center.