Cedi Osman couldn’t help the Spurs halt the Clippers (Photo via Twitter)
Earlier in the season, the San Antonio Spurs lost to the Los Angeles Clippers by 40 points. Tonight, the Spurs tried to beat the Clippers to snap their eight-game losing streak. Instead, the Clippers easily handled the Spurs again to send the good guys tumbling to their ninth consecutive defeat.
San Antonio kept things close much of the first quarter. Unfortunately, L.A. finished the opening period well and then continued their strong play in the second quarter. By halftime, the Clippers were up 66-55. The Spurs didn’t have any sort of sustained run in the second half and the Clippers were able to stroll to a 124-99 victory.
On one hand, this was an understandable loss because the Spurs are super young and the Clippers have Kawhi Leonard, Paul George, James Harden and other veterans who know what it takes to get a win in the NBA. On the other hand, it would have been nice to see the Spurs put up more of a fight than they did.
Stats: Spurs vs. ClippersSpurs vs. Clippers – Final GradesVictor Wembanyama
I’d classify this as Wembanyama’s worst game of his rookie season. While it’s a positive that he had only one turnover and one foul, that was more of a result of him being extremely passive. The Clippers were being physical with him and Wembanyama didn’t really do anything to counter that tactic. He settled for shots, didn’t attack openings and wasn’t running the court as hard as usual. On defense, he mostly coasted on the perimeter and did very little on the glass. The only silver lining for Wembanyama tonight was some slick passing — but that was about the extent of the positives.
Johnson’s final numbers are somewhat impressive but he wasn’t as good as those stats suggest. In the first quarter, Johnson shot only one time. With Devin Vassell out with an injury, the Spurs needed Johnson to step into a bigger role — but he came out of the gates without his normal energy. He eventually got going and did a lot of good like shooting 7-for-8 from two-point range, authoring a number of great passes and rebounding extremely well. Johnson also limited his mistakes while taking on additional playmaking duties. But, again, Johnson’s accomplishments fell a bit flat due to him not revving his engines until the game started to get out of hand.
The good: Sochan rebounded well, tried on defense and his ball-handling was better than usual. One turnover in 29 minutes was a step in the right direction. The bad: It’s not optimal when your starting point guard did little to no playmaking. Sochan also missed all three of his three-pointers and finished poorly in the paint. While he gave good effort on defense, he was still getting scored on with relative ease.
Collins has been playing well lately but laid an egg against the Clippers. Defensively, he didn’t rebound or defend the rim much. His help was also slow and his one-on-one D was lacking. Offensively, I didn’t mind his three-point shooting but he wasn’t as physical in the paint as usual. He also turned it over three times without tallying an assist. Passing-wise, he was much more hesitant than normal, which resulted in him missing open teammates.
Champagnie has been so underwhelming this season that it’s difficult to know what to expect out of him on a daily basis. I thought his defense was better; he didn’t have as many glaring mistakes and was active in passing lanes and protecting the rim. Offensively, he took the three-pointers he needed to take — but he needs to start knocking shots down if he has a prayer of staying in the rotation.
A definite bright spot for the Spurs, Osman hit the floor and instantly played with a purpose. That doesn’t sound notable but, on this night, it was. He ran like a madman in transition, flashed fancy ball-handling moves, and finished with strength and touch. Beyond the arc, he was ready and willing to fire when he had daylight. Offensively, he did a great job of pressing the issue without disrupting the flow. Defensively, he didn’t hesitate to go toe-to-toe with Los Angeles’ future Hall of Famers. On a team that isn’t overflowing with uber competitors, Osman’s competitiveness will keep him in the rotation.
Jones was decent-ish. I thought he looked for his own shot a bit too much and was sloppier than usual when passing. But his playmaking was desperately needed and his pushing of the pace was also ideal. Defensively, he wasn’t as rugged as usual. Instead of chasing down loose balls, he could usually be found trying to leak out on the break or otherwise spectating the action.
Branham’s ten points on 4-for-6 shooting was helpful. His three-point stroke looked a lot cleaner than usual. Nothing about the rest of his outing stood out in a good way, though. His defense was sub par, his playmaking was minimal and his energy level didn’t move the needle.
I thought Bassey was pretty awesome. Sure, three turnovers and two fouls in 18 points isn’t the best but, man, he should be applauded for trying to make things happen each and every time up the court. His rebounding was phenomenal; he was pulling down contested boards over and around Clippers. Bassey’s rim protection might have been ever better. He was going up and getting any shot attempt in his zip code. I also really liked his passing and the overall confidence he displayed on offense. On a listless night at the Frost Bank Center, Bassey’s electricity was palpable throughout the arena.
McDermott hit a three-pointer and made a couple plays with his movement. Unfortunately, his defense was even worse than usual, which made him a net negative player on this night.
Cissoko got his first NBA action in garbage. He had an alleyoop pass slip through his fingers. To score his first NBA points on an alleyoop dunk would have been cool but, alas, it didn’t happen.
Pop should have adjusted the rotation to give Bassey more minutes. He was providing the spark that San Antonio needed. Osman, too, could have been leaned on even more. The Spurs never really got anything going on offense or defense in the final three quarters so, yeah, Pop deserves some of that blame. Then again, no Vassell, Johnson taking the first quarter off and Wembanyama singing the rookie blues made it close to impossible for the head coach to impact the proceedings in a major way.