Step in the right direction

San Antonio can feel more buoyed by their overtime defeat against Memphis after a disappointing 48 minutes against the struggling Lakers two nights before.

The Spurs’ locker room was reportedly flat after their underwhelming performance against a depleted and sorry Los Angeles Lakers.

In an 82-game regular season, wins don’t always equate to good play or improvement and losses don’t always signal a backward step or panic time.

According to Gregg Popovich, the Spurs play of late has been difficult to stomach.

“I didn’t recognise that basketball team,” Popovich conceded.

The Spurs ball movement was at times nonexistent against the Lakers and the “trust” that seemed so engrained in the Parker-led Spurs broke down.

Again, in such a long and gruelling season this lack lustre night could simply be an aberration. Yet, the Spurs looked tired as well in their loss against the young New Orleans Hornets and are 6-7 on the road against Western Conference teams this season.

For the first time in the Duncan-Popovich era the Spurs’ play has been shackled by untimely and careless turnovers.

The Spurs rank 26th in the league for turnovers (15.3) and the last three games are averaging a terrible 17.7 turnovers.

Sure, turnovers are inevitable particularly when mercurial playmakers like Manu Ginobili take the hardwood. He and the Spurs like to look for little gaps and miscommunication in opposition defenses and often pursue the risk in hope for greater reward. Yet, the high number of turnovers can be credited to pure carelessness with the ball.

Tim Duncan has had an uncharacteristically poor stretch of late (six turnovers against Memphis) with taking care of the ball down on the low block. The smaller guards have been allowed to easily to get a hand in and disrupt Duncan’s control of the ball. Duncan and the Spurs need to figure out a way to maintain their daring and free ball movement while lowering their turnover numbers.

Maybe San Antonio  begun figuring it out as a team in the second half against Memphis. After committing 12 turnovers in the first half that fuelled the Grizzlies offense, the Spurs only conceded six in the second half which allowed San Antonio to cut the eight point deficit held by the Grizzlies at half time and take a three point lead heading into the final quarter.

While the Spurs came agonisingly short of escaping Memphis with a ‘W’, they may have played their best and toughest basketball of 2013 against a team that plays the most ragged defense in the league.

Sometimes the end result doesn’t tell the whole story.

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