Before tonight’s game against the Golden State Warriors, coach Gregg Popovich announced that the Spurs will be without their starting point guard, Trey Jones, due to illness. He then announced somewhat surprisingly that rookie forward Jeremy Suchan would start at the point in his stead. By the end of the night, Jones would be missed and his team-leading 6.6 assists per game.
Lest we bury the lead, Tottenham lost for a variety of reasons. Shooting (season low) 36% from the ground against a team like the Warriors will likely cost your team the win under most circumstances anyway. Add in 18 turnovers and (a season low) 18 pass passes, and you’ve got yourself in for a long night. But one thing was clear – at this point in their careers, Soshan and underused reserve guard Jordan Hall were not the answer at this point. It makes one wonder if the long-rumored Westbrook-to-the-Spurs trade is suddenly looking more palatable for the silver and black. No one wants to take away a young core’s development time, but on nights like these, it wouldn’t hurt to have a backup guard with some veteran experience on the bench.
Right away in the first quarter, it became very clear that this wasn’t the same team without Jones at the helm. The offense stagnated for long periods of time directly, as the Warriors jumped out to a quick 14-4 lead in the first four minutes. Fierce shooting hit the Spurs all over, and they allowed the Warriors guard Jordan Paul to cruise for 14 points in the first quarter. While the Spurs took their first (and only) lead of the game late in the first game on a McDermott three, by the end of the period the Warriors regained control and led 33-26.
Spurs’ three-point shooting problems continued into the second frame. Halfway through the quarter, they were shooting 3/19 from the bow compared to 9/17 for the Warriors. Needless to say, this was not good. Bates Diop finished the half as the top scorer for Tottenham, with 7 points. Also… no good. Given all that has gone wrong for Spurs, I felt a little lucky that they headed into the locker room by “only” 16, trailing 45 to 61.
That would be a short-lived feeling, however, as the Warriors jumped almost immediately all around the Spurs in third. Jacob Poeltel had perhaps the Spurs’ strongest stretch as a starter, committing two fouls (including Stephen Curry’s three-point attempt) and two turns in 90 seconds. By the time Pope called his first out of the period at 9:51, the Warriors’ lead had swelled to 29 points, up 74 to 45. The Spurs never got close to 22 points from there, and they never threatened the Warriors.
By the end of the game, the Spurs will shoot 10-for-40 (25%) from the three-point line, for 23-for-45 (51%). Their 18 turnover led the Warrior to 27 points, and they also beat the Spurs 19-4 by quick points. It was an offensive clinic on a night the Spurs couldn’t muster.
That was more or less by the second period, and as Portland kicks off tomorrow night, Bob has been able to give his two starters big breaks. Unfortunately, the bench wasn’t much hotter: Jason Richardson scored 10 points on 3/12 shooting while Isaiah Roby managed 9 points on scanty 3/9 shooting. Charles Basey was a blinking beacon of brightness on the night, as he scored 6 points (3/5 from the floor), 7 rebounds, 3 assists, and 2 blocks in 24 minutes.
- Jeremy Suchan finished the night 5/13 from the court, with 12 points, seven rebounds and (most worryingly) zero assists, to go with 3 turnovers and a team-worst rating of plus/minus -34. I think we can say that his career as a point striker is not off to the best start. We’ll see if Pop continues to use him as backup in this role.
- Spurs players Keldon Johnson and Devin Vassell finished on a combined 8/26 from the floor. It didn’t seem to this viewer that their poor performance was as much a defensive focus for the Warriors as Spurs’ inability to create easy shots without a seasoned and experienced point guard running the offense.
- Jordan Paul just finished with the best mark of his career with 36 points (5/10 of the three points) the night the Warriors gave his first dummy gift. Undoubtedly, that explains his massive goal-scoring effort, not Tottenham’s porous defense tonight.
- Let’s say it again: This is the year Trey Jones proves his worth in the league. Also interesting – since Westbrook-to-the-Spurs isn’t a thing yet, are Tottenham making some kind of move to bring in a veteran guard after tonight? If so, who are they cutting/trading to do this? Feel free to discuss in the comments…
that’s easy. He goes to Coach Pop for the best swerve of the night, turning the cameras on archenemy Steve Kerr.