After sending the Golden State Warriors into a tailspin on Monday night, Doc Rivers and the Clippers set their sights on San Antonio, defeating the Spurs 116-111 in Los Angeles. Minus a key crunch time turnover, DeMar DeRozan was masterful in his hometown debut as a Spur. The Compton native contributed 34 points, six rebounds, and five assists in a losing cause.
Following a promising stretch in October, the Spurs have now fallen in five of the last six contests, including three consecutive losses on the road. Several factors have contributed to the recent swoon, which has coincided with Derrick White’s return to the starting lineup. Although White has put up solid numbers as a starter, San Antonio’s offense has looked sluggish at times, resulting in slow starts.
In the opening quarter on Thursday night against the Clippers, LaMarcus Aldridge looked ready to shoot himself out of a recent slump, before swooning to three for 15 from the field. To his credit, Aldridge finished the night with 16 rebounds, but the Spurs need big numbers from him on the offensive end in order to compete on the road.
More significantly, San Antonio’s lackluster defense has recently regressed, making it difficult for the Spurs to climb out of early game setbacks to victory. Prior to the three-game skid, Head Coach Gregg Popovich preached patience.
“These guys are learning all the time,” Popovich said. “A lot of new faces in a new system, and a lot of guys that haven’t played with each other. I’ve got to be patient, which I’m not sometimes, I know. It’s a balance between being patient and demanding things.”
The schedule doesn’t get any less demanding for the Spurs, with Kevin Durant and the Warriors making their first appearance in San Antonio this season on Sunday. The growing rift between Durant and the defending champs has dominated the NBA news cycle, with most fans outside the Bay Area delighting in reports of a dysfunctional dynasty. A strong start will be critical for the Spurs to succeed.Stay on top of San Antonio news and views. Sign up for our Weekly Headlines Newsletter.