Some time in the 2000s when the Blazers were good and the Spurs were battling for the best record, the regular season matchups against them — and any team that was good — felt momentous.
They were fuel for the arguments I would have at school about the team and it’s place in the league and in history.
In the years since, it has been nice to get some confirmation that the players take some games more personally.
Last year against the Raptors when Kawhi returned to San Antonio, it felt like that again. DeMar DeRozan notched a triple double. Kawhi yelled after dunking early.
In this matchup against the Clippers, it is harder to get the same feelings. If I have to choose an LA team to hate it would obviously be the Lakers, even if the Clips — a version of them — were the last LA team to beat San Antonio in the playoffs.
Kawhi day out the first game to be prepared for the Spurs. He was criticized for sitting against Utah because those fans are missing out while the LAC crowd has 41 chances to see their guy.
That is another discussion. What is curious is that he sat the front in, and not the second night. He wanted to play SA?
DeMar was more crisp in this one partly because he is back home in Los Angeles, partly because he is in the fourth game of the season and is catching his rhythm.
In the end, the Spurs has no obvious answer for Kawhi doing Kawhi things. They stayed fighting but did not get enough clutch buckets late.
The real complaint will be about the first half, where LAC was struggling after the playing the night before and the Spurs looked like they had some jet lag.
This is where two things can be true, something I had trouble understanding when I was a kid looking for hot takes for school arguments.
The Spurs wanted to win this game but did not do everything they could to win it off the court. Playoff preparation is much more detailed. Regular season preparation is about building the team cohesion.
We saw the Spurs get better by just a little bit in this one. Young Dejounte was not nearly as dazed by Patrick Beverly as he was in that Rockets series in 2017.
In fact, Murray back-tipped Bev on a drive. The student had become at least an apprentice.
- Marco Bellinelli is still slumping. He has a shooting slump last season but he has been just poor all over the court.
- Still no Carroll eh? What is going on there?
- Lonnie was scolded in the postgame by Pop.
- Kawhi did actually say he looks forward to playing his old teammates.
- LMA was held to 5. He didn’t catch the rhythm of the game and the Spurs didn’t really help him out. Having DeRozan go off for 29 was nice and kind is the point is having two stars.