The San Antonio Spurs are a good basketball team, again. Sure, they had a losing record last season and missed the playoffs, but last season was kinda a weird one, right? If you look past last season do you know, without checking, the last time the Spurs were under .500 over a full 82 game season? It was the 1996-97 NBA season.
Let that sink in for a bit.
This team under coach Gregg Popovich is just perennially good. This seasons iteration isn’t particularly talented, but man are they scrappy. or the second game in a row they gave the defending NBA Champion Lakers all they could handle. It took great games from LeBron James, 26pts/11rbs/10ast, and Anthony Davis, 34pts/11/rbs and their signature clamp down defense in the final minutes to earn the victory.
Star of the Game
Yes, as mentioned earlier, both LBJ and AD were great, but the star of this game was the Lakers defense. It is a credit to Coach Frank Vogel that the Lakers have become this good on the defensive side. They are not only very good, they know when to be good. Defense is about effort and effort takes, well, effort. You can’t ALWAYS be good defensively; the Lakers know when to turn it on and when to tone it down.
If this team is close in the waning moments of a game they will step up defensively. That is who they are and not who they were before Coach Vogel signed on. Combine that suffocating defense with so many offensive weapons and you understand why they are the defending NBA Champions. Also helps to understand why they won this game.
Where is Alex Caruso? It is a credit to ACFresh that he has become an integral part of the Lakers rotation. He brings an energy that was lacking, most notably in the first half of this game. We know he is being held out due to the league’s health and safety protocols. We know he has not tested positive for Covid-19 since no player has since December 24th. So, where is he? Did he make an unplanned/unauthorized trip? Maybe for chicken wins? Who knows, but Caruso is missed and not seeing him on the court is a concern.
The only surprise in this game was how the Spurs stayed as close as they did for as long as they did. On paper they have no chance against the Lakers, yet, they held a lead with only 2:26 to go in the game. Unfortunately for them that was when Coach Vogel flipped the defensive switch to ON. There next possessions were all well defended and went like this: missed fadeaway, missed pull-up jumper, missed turnaround jumper, they then finished off with 2 missed three-point shots. 0-5 in the final 2 minutes is no way to finish any game, but the Spurs had no reason to be as close as they were.
At the Memphis Grizzlies on Sunday, January 3rd, 2021
Jose has written for Bleacher Report, Clipperholics, OC Weekly and wrote a series of articles covering the 2010 NBA Finals for the LA Times. He lives in Southern California and is excited to watch thePeachBasket grow!