The San Antonio Spurs fell to the Los Angeles Lakers in a relentless rout, 92-123, losing their fifth straight game while slipping to 6-12. Head coach Gregg Popovich wasn’t on the sidelines as he dealt with an illness tonight, but even the legendary play-caller probably could have done little to stop one of the worst shooting performances of the season.
Devin Vassell led the Silver and Black with 17 points, four rebounds, and four assists, as Jeremy Sochan added 12 points, six rebounds, and three steals. Anthony Davis paced Los Angeles with 30 points and 18 boards, followed by 21 points from Austin Reaves. Russell Westbrook also packed a punch off the bench with a double-double.
- Head Coach Gregg Popovich wasn’t on the sidelines for the Spurs for the first time in what felt like forever, which was strange considering he spoke to the media before the game started. The opposing broadcast told viewers the 73-year-old playcaller was under the weather, and San Antonio confirmed he had an illness with an official update before halftime. Brett Brown took over clipboard responsibilities, and as we’ve seen in the past couple of seasons, that probably means the assistant was in charge of scouting the Lakers. Whatever the case, everyone hopes Gregg Popovich rejoins the sidelines as soon as possible.
- Keldon Johnson had one of the worst first halves in recent memory, continuing an unfortunate trend of poor shooting over his last three outings. The fourth-year forward came out of the gates firing at will from beyond the arc and attacking the rim, but he walked away with two points on 1-of-12 shooting as the Spurs trailed 48-66. Poor shot selection factored into his off-night. With that said, Keldon bricked a bunch of wide-open looks. He never found his rhythm, and the odds are rarely in your favor when your leading scorer lays an egg of this extent. Hopefully, two days off and a much-needed return to AT&T Center are enough to help Johnson rediscover his blistering early-season form.
- Jakob Poeltl has been an anchor for San Antonio on both ends this season, and they immediately felt the repercussions of his absence as he sat out with knee soreness. The Spurs practically rolled out a red carpet directly to the rim without the seven-footer stationed on the inside, allowing 38 points in the paint in the first half. To put that number into perspective, the Sixers and Clippers score roughly 42.1 points in the paint per game. The Silver and Black also missed their starting center on the offensive end, looking turned around with no reliable high-post facilitating hub to fall back on when things broke down.
- San Antonio has lived and died by the three-ball this season. With deadeyes like Keldon Johnson, Devin Vassell, Doug McDermott, and Josh Richardson on the roster, it makes sense for them to let it fly more than in years past. The coaching staff has also encouraged almost everyone to fire away when they’re open. That green light has contributed to the Spurs taking a franchise record 34.1 threes per game. The good guys have gone a respectable 5-4 when they make at least 38% of their long-distance attempts. With that said, they have now slipped to 1-8 when they shoot below that mark.
- Anthony Davis overwhelmed San Antonio from the instant the game began, logging 18 points, five rebounds, two assists, two steals, and one block in the opening fame. The eight-time All-Star continued to impose his will on the Spurs, ending the night with 30 points and 18 rebounds. He cleaned the glass, threw down lobs, drained jumpers, went to work in the post, and punished smaller defenders. Nobody could stop Davis, and he is looking more like the perennial All-NBA candidate he used to be before injuries derailed his momentum.
- Lonnie Walker IV reunited with the Spurs for the first time since he departed the organization this summer. Though the high-flying swingman started the evening off with an indecisive drive that led to a traveling violation, he eventually got into a groove against his former ball club. He slammed home a couple of rim-rattlers in transition and nailed a handful of triples, reminding fans of how dangerous he can be when he has the hot hand.
- The Spurs have dropped to 6-12 on the season and 14th place in the Western Conference after this loss. San Antonio shocked the NBA at the beginning of their campaign, but they have started to settle into lottery territory over the last month. While Devin Vassell and Keldon Johnson are fantastic players, PATFO would likely love a chance to add a generational talent to this roster. Scoot Henderson and Victor Wembanyama are at the top of every Big Board, and they are beginning to feel like a possibility even if they aren’t guaranteed to land in the 2-1-0.
- Let’s keep the final observation short. Including tonight, San Antonio has allowed their opponents to score at least 115 points in eight of their last ten games. Live-ball turnovers, porous transition defense, and several half-court miscues are the root of their issues. All these shortcomings are typical of an inexperienced team, and the Spurs are among the youngest rosters in the NBA. Can things change? Sure. Will they? That’s a question only time can answer.
For the Lakers fans’ perspective, please visit Silver Screen and Roll.
The San Antonio Spurs return to the AT&T Center to kick off a three-game homestand on Wednesday.