The San Antonio Spurs had a disappointing outing against the Sacramento Kings Sunday evening. Coming off perhaps their biggest win of the season against Utah, the Spurs' youth showed as they came up short down the stretch against the Kings, 121-114.
The Spurs (11-18) have alternated wins and losses in their last seven contests and are now 5-5 in their last 10 games. In that stretch, they've taken down Western Conference powerhouses in the Warriors and Jazz, as well as suffered defeats to teams under .500 in the Knicks and Kings. Winning these types of games against inferior competition will be paramount in the Spurs' pursuit of a playoff or play-in bid going forward.
Ups and downs are the natural byproduct of a roster filled with young talent, and that's certainly been evident in the Spurs' play this year. With that said, certain players on the roster have definitely produced more consistently than others over the course of the season. Here are the players that stood out to me on Sunday night.
San Antonio Spurs Stud: Dejounte Murray - 25 pts, 9 asts, 7 rebs
It was another stellar outing for the Spurs starting point guard. After breaking his personal record for triple-doubles in a season on Friday when he notched his fifth, Dejounte Murray nearly tacked another one on to the list. He was solid all night, finding his teammates at the right time and knowing when to hunt his own shot.
One element of Murray's game that has made him especially dangerous is his effectiveness in midrange scoring. He's been consistently excellent at getting to his spot and knocking down the 15-foot jumper all year. When he first came in the league, Dejounte relied heavily on his floater and wasn't a reliable pull up shooter. Seeing his progression from that point to now being one of the better midrange scorers in the league has been tremendous.
Murray did all this while shooting an efficient 11-of-17 from the floor. He recorded his 10th game of the season shooting 50% or higher from the floor. A well-oiled machine, he continues to lead the Spurs on offense and defense, and make his case for his first all-star selection of his career.
San Antonio Spurs Dud: Derrick White - 5 pts, 2/8 FG, -18 plus/minus
The other member of the Spurs' starting backcourt didn't fare quite as well as Murray. Derrick White had a tough outing, scoring just five points and missing all three of his 3-point attempts in 25 minutes of game action. It was his sixth game of the year shooting under 30% from the floor.
I don't want to be too tough on Derrick. His play has improved markedly since his early-season slump, and it's translated into more Spurs wins as well. In fact, San Antonio holds an 8-5 record in games where he's scored at least 15 points, including three wins in the last four in that department.
His individual performance is proving to be key to the Spurs' overall success. As a result, he just can't have this kind of performance going forward. In a Western Conference loaded with talent at the guard position, the Spurs have to trust him to bring his A-game night in and night out.