4TH Q: SPURS 144
The 144 for us stands out, sure, and it's a big score in part because we faced a heavily depleted opponent, but frankly their 109 against us stands out, too. They had the player with the top scoring and the player with the top FTs in the game. They were, to their credit, fighting throughout the game, and it got to us inside and at the foul line.
We won the rebounding battle 52-42 but lost on O boards 14-9; we turned it over 18 times, half of which came on their 10 steals, so it wasn't a clean game by us by any means. We actually gave up 20 to their 17 points off our TOs so we actually were made to pay a lot for it.
Post-game Pop praised Derrick and Tre for continuing to play within our system when we got up big. Both got career highs in assists, 10 and 11, respectively. Pointed comment, though, since not everybody did just that. Lonnie stood out in looking to get his own for most of his 19 minutes. The ball noticeably stopped with him in that for most of his possessions the ball only left his hands if he absolutely didn't have a shot and had to pass. He got to the FT line well enough, making 4-4, so good on his for being assertive. But that he only got 2 rebounds and didn't register any assists or steals or blocks attests to his focus and how it was outside of the team concept Pop spoke about.
Bryn. Bless his heart. Sometimes when he doesn't play for a while, he steps in and does just what we need him to, playing within himself and just moving off ball, making quick decisions be it taking the shot, faking and driving for those floaters. Games like this, it's like he tries to do all that he hasn't had a chance to in a while and it doesn't go well. Bryn passed poorly, bobbled balls on received passes, over dribbled, didn't make good decisions with the ball, with drives into contested keys time and again or drives on bigs that he got blocked on. He led the bench in minutes, and was least efficient. Like Lonnie, he did get to the FT line well and made 5-5, so ok, good, but he was bad defensively, getting beaten on drives, unsure contests so he stepped up to them late, just clunky decisions that took away from our flow on both sides of the ball.
Neither made a 3.
Devin struggled on O but helped the team on D. He led us with 3 steals, grabbed 4 contested rebounds, dished 2 assists and got a steal. His 3-8, 2-5 from 3 for 8 points was supported by his two way game. Loved his off ball movement, loved his dunk where he protected the ball, made room, and exploded at the rim. His high IQ and instincts blend shone through.
Our bench poured in 73 points, led by growing fan favourite Jock's 18 points. We just do better with a spirited Aussie on the team. All respect to Drew, but the difference between Jock's skill set and Drew's is so noticeable as to make us wonder how we had the Jakob/Drew rotation for so long. Jock made an immediate impact with stretching the floor and making a 3, led us with 3 O boards (5 in total), was super efficient making 7-9 shots, and 3-4FTs. A good blend of hard nosed inside and knowing how to use his game, getting good positioning wherever he was, battling on the boards, getting one block and 3 assists and team-high +26. Drew is back to where, frankly, he belongs with his skill set. His energy and the shots he's developed are still big advantages versus other third string bigs, but I think he's at the level where he can make the most impact being the third big. Grabbing a team-high 7 boards, making 2-4, 0-1 from 3 (bold as broth, shooting that shot!), and 4-7FTs. Only player on the team at -4, but the opponent did win the final Q as well so there's context for his numbers.
Primo stood out with better handles, solid decision making, and bold and clutch shots. He led the bench with 3 made 3s, had terrific court vision with high low passes inside to the bigs, and really never looked out of place. Good control of the game, of himself within it, and blend of setting up others as well as getting his own shots. He stepped up to take a charge versus a much bigger player, too. Fearless. In terms of development, he's looking ever confident but more sure of his decisions, and knows much sooner who he can break down with his dribble and how. Joe looked more assertive in taking his shots and good drives to the rim. G-League confidence is apparent all over him. He's looking to become what Doug is now. Terrific seamlessness in the planning here from where we are to where we'll be. Cacok seemed to attract the ref's whistle time and again and didn't realy show what he has in Austin, so I hope he gets a chance to show the assertive talent that's burgeoning in our G-League team.
Tre has been a bit unsteady with balancing his O game the last several games but had a better balance in this game. He made 4-6, but dished out a team-high 11 assists. He stayed with drivers with his pesky relentless man D. Mostly he was able to better run the team and lead us in running the plays, doing a terrific job in finding open teammates.
We poured in 144 points with the starters scoring 71 of them. Derrick only making 1-3, but led us with 10 assists, 5-5FTs, a steal, and his patented charge taken in only 15 minutes. He's a different player when he's the lead guard and was the steady presence to reset us time and again.
Jakob played only minutes and in them was a stealth weapon making 7-8, grabbing 4 boards (2 on O), but starter high 3 TOs - some of that was his holding onto the ball, but really a lot more of it is the passes we were making inside - just not clean, into contested spaces that defenders got their hands into too easily. Jakob does a good job getting into position but could call and give a target especially on post ups with his hands a bit better. And our guards can't expect him to just grab anything they throw in his vicinity.
It's fun watching Keita grow into his abilities. He's a defensive menace with those Inspector Gadget arms, but is also better in off ball movement, making cuts, running in transition, and getting to the arc. No chances for the latter tonight, but he takes what the game gives him, and in doing so he fits into multiple line-ups and we can count on him to be inserted and do what we need him to. Last game he led us with scoring, and in this on he was 3-4, and also 4-5FTs, grabbed a starter-high 6 boards (1 on O), and dished 3 assists.
Doug was a two-way weapon making 3-5 from 3 and 5-10 overall, along with 3 boards and 3 assists. He got just about everything he wanted and inside and out and it was from his constant movement that the away broadcasters kept commenting on. He's a perfect fit for our system.
And then there was Keldon with his better channeled wanton abandon self, pouring in 10-12, 4-4 from 3, 3-3FTs, 5 boards, and 1 assist. He carved up the opponent in the restricted area making all six of his shots in and just around it. He's become so disciplined in both the shots he's choosing - 3s and key, but he's also become our most efficient 3s shooter. Honestly, I'd have lost money on the bet for who'd rise to become our most reliable 3s shooter. It's not only that Keldon's done it, it's that he's done it from just about the very bottom of the team. I mean, look how far he' grown in two years.
It was a bit of a slow start, in part I think because Keita was back with the starting group and so three players had to shift positions and less familiarity with the rest of the players. But once the more cohesive bench group came in, we picked up the pace, and never really looked back. Luckily the top minutes were 25 by Keita so we did a good enough job to ensure that everyone who was listed got to play, and Pop did a great job managing everyone's minutes.
It would have been an absolute disaster had we not taken this opponent with appropriate seriousness and let them hang around because they were absolutely competing from start to finish, and bested us in some key categories when they had no business doing so. So we've got some work to do, especially in protecting the ball and playing more crisply and cohesively. Now I just pray we stay healthy and are ready and fresh for the upcoming challenges.
- G R E Y
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Thinking of you, Pop