Hey, that was super fun!
I don’t know what the rest of the season will bring —and the fundamental issues facing this team remain the same today as they were Friday morning— but I’m sure the Spurs will continue to be a work in progress and we will likely still have to sit through a few more frustrating losses than we’re used to.
But man, that was fun.
Heading into the 4th quarter, the Lakers had stiff-armed every attempt the Spurs had made at getting back into the game. Every time the good guys would get it back to within striking distance, LeBron would come up with a stop and race down the court for a quick two and then Lonzo would find Josh Hart open in transition for an easy lay up and, before you knew it, the Lakers were back up by 10. They had an answer for everything. The double digit deficit the Spurs were saddled with heading into the final frame was a familiar albatross, a sure sign that the Lakers were well on their way to putting this thing out of reach.
Except that they didn’t. For first time in what feels like forever, the Spurs were able to rally and then, not only did they catch the Lakers, they ended up being the ones to pull away at the end of the contest. They looked like a completely different team than the one who fell apart down the stretch Wednesday night. The offense didn’t seem panicked or hurried and the defense was surprisingly stout. Sure, maybe some of it was smoke and mirrors, and maybe we won’t always be able to count on Davis Bertans turning into 1995 Reggie Miller, but this performance felt light years more encouraging than when the they boat raced the struggling Blazers the other night.
Anyone can can beat anyone when they shoot the lights out and their opponent seems lifeless. The Spurs had to work for Friday’s win. The Lakers came in playing their best basketball of the year and the ‘LeBron has finally awoken’ narrative is fully gearing up across the NBA media landscape. The Spurs had to weather a great performance from L.A. through three quarters and still they were able to find a way to finish. It was the type of gutsy win we’ve been clamoring for all year.
Maybe it will end up meaning nothing in the grand scheme of things, but at least for one night, I had a great time watching the Spurs play basketball. It was refreshing to say the least.
- Maybe we should just tear it down and rebuild around my close personal friend Jakob Poeltl? He was everywhere in the 4th, doing all the little things that make the Spurs go. He grabbed tough boards, set hard screens, and protected the rim like his life depended on it. Unlike the rest of the game, the Lakers couldn’t get any easy buckets in the 4th and Poeltl’s 7-foot frame was the main reason behind that. He was also efficient whenever he got the ball on offense. Gone are the early days of the season when every pass that found him seemed to roll away either out of bounds or into the hands of the defense. His footwork was great and his finishes were strong. He looks confident out there and, if this trend continues, it could be an unbelievably huge development for the Spurs.
- LaMarcus Aldridge didn’t play the entire 4th quarter and, while that’s a pretty eye popping stat, I think it’s important not to go firing up the Hot Take Express just yet. Yes, the Spurs looked great in the 4th playing that bizarre lineup consisting of the former Raptors and some shooters and I’ll be the first to admit that it was pretty intoxicating to watch, but I think we’ve got some extremely rose colored glasses on if we think that’s a sustainable strategy. Pop was correct to ride the hot hand tonight (Davis’s hand was practically volcanic), but there’s still no version of a successful Spurs season that doesn’t involve Aldridge playing up to his capabilities. I know many are frustrated with how he’s played this season, but I’d bet no one is more frustrated than he is.
- Holy cow, Davis was great tonight. I know we can’t expect him to do that every night, but I’m starting to wonder . . . why shouldn’t we? He’s got to be getting more and more confidant in his shot and he brings a palpable sense of energy off the bench every time he comes in the game. Outside of DeMar, he’s sort of the only Spur who feels capable of just exploding for huge bunches of points all at once and that potential is just incredibly tantalizing to me. Goodness knows the Spurs could use someone out there spreading the floor, I mean, look at how much space DeMar had to operate out there in the 4th while Davis and Patty were serious threats that the Lakers had to pay attention to. I’m ready for the Davis Bertans revolution, and I’m ready now.
- I like LeBron. In fact, I’d consider myself a LeBron fan. From an objective basketball standpoint, he’s been one of the most incredible players I’ve ever watched play the game and I consider it an absolute privilege that I’ve been able to witness his career and delight in the amazing athletic feats he’s able to accomplish so consistently. That said………….man, it’s so fun to watch him get frustrated when he’s playing against my team. He does that thing when he doesn’t get a call where he sort of crab walks at lightning speed away from the scene of the crime and squishes his face up in disgust or he he’ll get up in the ref’s face with a smile that says “Oh, come on now” and I just love it every time. It’s the most I ever get my partisan hackles up and it makes me want to just paint my face in Silver & Black and start yelling “more like LeBUM James!” and stuff like that. LeBron’s the best.
- DeMar DeRozan is amazing. He’s got a Tim Duncan-esque quality where he’s somehow capable of having a “quiet” 36 point night. The Spurs had a lot of fireworks on the floor Friday night and still, there he was, picking his spots and getting to the foul line and directing traffic. He’s the steady heartbeat the keeps the Spurs going and San Antonio is fortunate to have him.