Watching the Spurs take the floor in their garish camouflage-patterned uniforms on Saturday night I was reminded of Dwight Eisenhower’s dated dictum which stated that “The true mission of American sports is to prepare young men for war.” On military salute night, the Spurs had their hands full with Anthony Davis and the New Orleans Pelicans in a sloppy albeit entertaining contest. Going into the game, the biggest questions for San Antonio centered on their missing trio of key contributors, which included legionnaires, Tiago Splitter, Marco Belinelli, and Patty Mills, who is sidelined until next year.
While Belinelli is expected back in about a week, it was Splitter whose absence was felt the most particularly against the Pelican’s frontcourt of Davis and Omer Asik. The duo combined for 33 points and 18 rebounds against the Spurs in a 100-99 win, on a night when Tim Duncan recorded his astounding 800th double-double. Splitter is expected to see a back specialist this week to address the root of his calf ailment, and back-up Aron Baynes has at times looked overwhelmed in his absence. Although serviceable in spurts, Baynes was exposed by Dwight Howard in Houston and the Spurs expect more from him, particularly on the defensive end of the floor.
Next up for the Silver and Black is a grueling California road trip with match-ups against the Clippers, Warriors, Lakers, and Kings, respectively. San Antonio is still looking for their first win on the road while the Lakers would be happy with their first win, period. Expect the Spurs to break even as Coach Popovich continues to rest his charges on the second night of back-to-backs, which on this trip land in Oakland and Sacramento. As injuries and minute counts continue to affect the rotation, look for the Spurs to continue the quest for their collective rhythm.