Spurs’ Popovich on Rockets: ‘We had four or five guys who were out to lunch’

The Houston Rockets were a depleted team on Thursday night. Due to the James Harden trade and injuries to John Wall and Eric Gordon, Houston had nine players against the Spurs, but those nine players came up huge, especially Christian Wood, who had a team-high 27 points and 15 rebounds, as the Rockets defeated San Antonio on the road 109-105.

This was a very disappointing loss for the Spurs, who were led by Keldon Johnson’s career-high 29 points, and after the game, Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich felt some of his players were not ready to play against the Rockets.

“This has nothing to do with defense, offense,” Popovich said. “This has to do with between the ears. Being ready to play. We had four or five guys who were out to lunch.”

When asked if he was surprised by his team’s effort against Houston, Popovich has this to say:

“It doesn’t matter if it surprises me or not. We did what we did.” 

According to Spurs G Lonnie Walker IV, who scored 16 points on Thursday night, the Rockets played harder than San Antonio.

“They just played harder,” Walker said. “They played from the first quarter to the fourth, they played harder. It’s just that simple.”

Walker also felt the undermanned Rockets played like they had something to prove.

“They had something to prove,” he said. “They felt disrespected, so that energy and animosity built up inside of them. They were definitely ready to play this game. You could tell on the court just by their effort defensively, second-chance points, grabbing rebounds, and all those types of things.”

In an 82-game season(72 this year), losses like this happen, especially with a young team like San Antonio. Fortunately for the Spurs, they have a chance to get revenge on Saturday night against Houston. Based on Pop’s reaction after this loss, expect a much better effort from this team on Saturday night.

Notes:

DeMar DeRozan made his return on Thursday night after missing two games due to traveling to California to be with his ill father. In his return, DeRozan struggled early, but scored 10 of his 13 points in the fourth quarter.

Watch an angry Pop below:

Spurs’ Walker: ‘I have to play with that confidence and not second guess myself’

The San Antonio Spurs finished a successful five-game road trip on Tuesday night with a 112-102 victory over the Thunder in Oklahoma City. On this road trip, the Spurs went 4-1, including wins over the Clippers and Lakers. 

Without their leading scorer DeMar DeRozan, who was back in California with his ill father, Lonnie Walker IV stepped up again for the Spurs and led the way with 24 points last night. This is his second consecutive game of 20 points or more for San Antonio.

In the two games DeRozan was out of the lineup, Walker averaged 24.5 ppg. When DeRozan plays, Walker is averaging 11.7 ppg. However, on Tuesday, the third-year guard knew that he had to be aggressive. 

“Just staying aggressive,” Walker said. “That’s just the mentality I got to approach the game every single time. Other than not looking for my shot, I’m such an unselfish player that sometimes it gets the best of me. But these past two games, with DeMar not being here at the time, I knew it was the time for me to step up and kind of take that role and kind of be more aggressive since he’s not around, and it turned out the right way.”

According to Walker, his performance last Saturday against Minnesota, where he scored only seven points in 28 minutes, really motivated him to play better going forward.

“I would say that Timberwolves game when I had about seven points, kind of ate me up alive,” Walker said. “I couldn’t go to sleep that same night knowing that we had a back-to-back. I wasn’t happy with how I played offensively and defensively. My effort wasn’t there, and I knew that wasn’t me.

“All that hard work I put in the offseason. I gotta let it be known. I have to play with that confidence and not second guess myself.”

The 22-year-old Walker has a lot of ability, and an aggressive Walker appears to be a very good Walker. When DeRozan returns, the Spurs and Walker have to find a way to keep him aggressive going forward.

Patty Mills: ‘He(DeRozan), obviously, loves the big moments’

Saturday night’s road victory for the Spurs(5-4) was all about DeMar DeRozan. The 12-year veteran scored 13 of his game and season-high 38 points in the 4th quarter and overtime, and ultimately, the Spurs would defeat Minnesota(2-7) 125-122 in overtime. The Spurs play Minnesota again on Sunday night

“DeMar won the game for us,” Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich said after the game. “He and Patty(Mills) playing out there with their pick-and-roll created a lot of opportunities. DeMar was the guy.”

Spurs’ Dejounte Murray, who scored 22 points against Minnesota, added this on DeRozan: “He’s a beast. That’s DeMar. Definitely, not the 82nd(ESPN’s list of best players in league) best player in the NBA. Damn sure, tell you that. That’s DeMar; we believe in him. We are really, really confident in him. We got the win; that’s all that matters.”

Late in games, DeRozan is one of the go-to guys for the Spurs, and according to him, it’s his job to make things happen for San Antonio down the stretch.

“It’s a mindset that I have, especially late in games when games are close,” he said. “I feel like It’s imperative; it’s my job to go out there and make something happen and pull out a win.”

Patty Mills, another 12-year veteran, who scored 21 points off the bench against Minnesota, added this about DeRozan: “He(DeRozan), obviously, loves the big moments, and loves to makes plays, loves to make big plays. He lives for those moments.’

San Antonio is 3-0 on their current five-game road trip, including wins over the Clippers and Lakers, and the veterans are leading the way. Patty Mills led the Spurs with 27 points in the team’s win over the Clippers, and LaMarcus Aldridge, a 15-year veteran, led the team with 28 points in San Antonio’s win over the Lakers, and of course, DeRozan’s big-time effort against Minnesota on Saturday night. 

According to Mills, the Spurs’ leaders are showing the young guys what it takes to close out games.

“Not being rattled in those big moments. I think that’s huge,” Mills said. “In terms of leadership and actions. The conversations that we’re having on the side, making sure the young boys understand what we’re doing while we are doing it. Helping them here and there have been good. The actions that we’re showing on the court, knowing who the leaders are and how to go about certain situations, and that helps young guys learn on the fly as well.”

Getting Aldridge back, who missed the team’s winless three-game homestand, helps. Now, after nine games, the Spurs are over .500 and playing some terrific basketball, and the veterans are leading the way.

Spurs’ Johnson: ‘Whoever is put in front of me, I go at them and give them everything I got’

Two straight games against the world-champion Lakers and two consecutive losses for the Spurs, but the game on Friday night was much closer. Behind Anthony Davis’ season-high 34 points and 11 rebounds and LeBron James, who recorded a triple-double with 26 points, 11 rebounds, and 10 assists, the Lakers defeated San Antonio 109-103 at AT&T Center. After starting 2-0, the Spurs have now lost three straight.

The Lakers(4-2) defeated the Spurs(2-3) in San Antonio on Wednesday night 121-107. Coming into Friday’s action, San Antonio was again without LaMarcus Aldridge for the second game in a row due to a knee injury. 

In Friday’s game, the Spurs entered the fourth quarter up by four against the Lakers, but they were outscored by 10 in the final period, and the Lakers finished the game with a 9-0 run. There are no moral victories at this level, but according to Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich, although the team lost, these types of games are good for the young Spurs.

“First seven out of ten games to start out are against playoffs teams,” Popovich said after the game. “We’re going to be on the road here for about nine or ten days. so It’s a tough start for those young guys; they’ll benefit from it in the long run.”

The young guys stepped up in a losing effort for San Antonio against the Lakers, including Keldon Johnson, who had a career-high 26 points against Los Angeles. 

“Whoever is put in front of me, I go at them and give them everything I got,” Johnson said. “That’s why I work hard in the offseason on my game. I put it into use when I go play. I just go out there and compete.”

DeMar DeRozan, who chipped in with 23 points against the Lakers, thinks the Spurs can build off what they did against Los Angeles on Friday night.

“We made a lot of things tough on the Lakers tonight,” DeRozan said. “Overall, just continue to build from that. We played the champs at a high level.”

Friday’s game also saw the return of Derrick White. The fourth-year guard made his season debut after recovering from toe surgery on his left foot in the offseason. He also signed a reported four-year, $ 73 million extension with the Spurs in December. White, who is on a minutes restriction, scored nine points in 23 minutes on Friday night.

The Lakers are world-champions for a reason, and beating them was not going to be easy, especially without Aldridge. San Antonio hosts another playoff team in the Utah Jazz on Sunday, and after Utah, they begin a five-game road trip, so it’s important they get that game against Utah before they head out on the road.

DeRozan exercises player option to return to Spurs

DeMar DeRozan has exercised his player option for the upcoming season, the Spurs announced today. According to spotrac.com, DeRozan will make $27.7 million in 2020-21.

DeRozan, who came to San Antonio in 2018 in the Kawhi Leonard trade, has averaged 21.6 points, 5.9 assists, and 5.8 rebounds in two seasons with the Spurs. Last season, DeRozan and league MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo were the only two players in the NBA to average 20-plus points, 5-plus rebounds, and 5-plus assists while shooting over 50.0 percent from the field. 

A two-time All-NBA selection, the 31-year-old DeRozan is one of just five players to score 1,500-plus points in each of the last five seasons, joining LeBron James, James Harden, Damian Lillard, and Russell Westbrook.

An 11-year veteran, DeRozan was originally drafted by the Toronto Raptors with the ninth overall pick in the 2009 NBA Draft. 

Spurs’ DeRozan named Western Conference Player of the Week

The NBA today announced that San Antonio Spurs forward DeMar DeRozan was named the Western Conference Player of the Week for games played Monday, January 6, through Sunday, January 12. Philadelphia’s Josh Richardson was named Eastern Conference Player of the Week.

This marks the first time DeRozan has been named Player of the Week since joining the Silver and Black in 2018. With his 11th career Player of the Week honor, DeRozan becomes just the fourth player to wear a Spurs uniform to be named Player of the Week at least 10 times, joining Tim Duncan (23), David Robinson (14) and LaMarcus Aldridge (10).

DeRozan averaged 29.3 points, 6.5 rebounds, 6.0 assists and 1.00 steals in 34.8 minutes for the week, while shooting .629 (39-62) from the field and .902 (37-41) from the foul line. He was the only player in the NBA to average 25-plus points, 6-plus rebounds and 6-plus assists while shooting better than 60 percent for the week.

DeRozan led the team in scoring in all four games and helped the Spurs go 3-1 for the week with victories against three of the top four teams in the Eastern Conference. DeRozan started off the week by scoring 25 points (11-15 FG, 1-1 3FG, 2-2 FT) to go along with 7 assists and 3 rebounds in 33 minutes in a 126-104 win against Milwaukee on January 6. Two nights later he finished with 31 points (10-17 FG, 11-11 FT), 6 rebounds and 4 assists in 34 minutes in a 129-114 victory at Boston on January 8. On Friday, DeRozan tied his season-high with 36 points (11-18 FG, 1-1 3FG, 13-14 FT), 9 assists and 7 rebounds in 38 minutes in a 121-134 loss at Memphis. To finish out the week, DeRozan scored 22 of his 25 points (7-12 FG, 11-14 FT) in the second half to help the Spurs overcome an 18 point second half deficit for a 105-104 victory at Toronto.

Over his last 11 games DeRozan has scored 20-or-more points, handed three-or-more assists and shot better than 52.0 percent in each game. He joins Michael Jordan (12) and LeBron James (11) as the only players to accomplish this feat in the last 35 years. DeRozan is one of just two players in the NBA this season averaging at least 20.0 points, 5.0 rebounds and 5.0 assists while shooting better than 50.0 percent from the field in 2019-20, joining Giannis Antetokounmpo.

DeRozan is averaging a team-best 22.4 points to go along with 5.3 rebounds, 5.1 assists and 1.00 steals in 34.0 minutes while shooting a career-best .535 (323-606) from the floor and .827 (196-237) from the free throw line.

DeRozan fined for throwing basketball at referee

San Antonio Spurs guard DeMar DeRozan has been fined $25,000 for recklessly throwing the basketball toward a game official and into the spectator stands, it was announced today by Kiki VanDeWeghe, Executive Vice President, Basketball Operations.

The incident, for which DeRozan was assessed one technical foul and ejected, occurred with 5:01 remaining in the fourth quarter of the Spurs’ 117-103 loss to the Denver Nuggets on Saturday, April 20 at AT&T Center.

To view the incident, click on the following link:

http://www.nba.com/video/2019/04/21/bbops-nuggets-spurs-042019

Spurs’ DeRozan: ‘The playoffs are everything'(WATCH)

For the 22nd straight year, the San Antonio Spurs will be in the playoffs. The Spurs got off to a slow start this season, and at times, it looked as if the Spurs would struggle to make the playoffs, especially after going 1-7 during their annual “Rodeo Road Trip” in February. But,  after that dismal road trip, San Antonio went on a nine-game winning streak and would ultimately clinch a playoff berth.

Being a lower seeded team(7th seed) at this point, not many expect the Spurs to make a lot of noise in the playoffs, which is something Spurs G DeMar DeRozan said has been the case for him throughout his whole career.

“I mean I been that way my whole career,” DeRozan said about the Spurs being a dark horse in the playoffs. “Going into the playoffs and everything, so, no, I don’t mind it. It’s fun, it’s competitive, and that’s what you look forward to.”

DeRozan has had his share of playoff struggles over the years, which is one of the reasons the Raptors traded him to the Spurs last summer.  In 2017, DeRozan averaged 27.8 ppg in the regular season, but that dropped 22.4 ppg in the playoffs. Last season, DeRozan averaged 24.4 ppg in the regular season, and that number fell to 22.7 in the playoffs.

“The playoffs are everything. It’s exciting, fun,” DeRozan said. “It’s what everybody is waiting to see. So, for us to be in that position, I think we are all excited.”

Players are judged by what they do in the playoffs, and it should be interesting to see if DeRozan can answer the call in these upcoming playoffs for the San Antonio Spurs.

Kenny Smith on Spurs: ‘They’ll still be a contending team in the West’

The Kawhi Leonard issue has finally been resolved in San Antonio. The Spurs traded Leonard and Danny Green to Toronto for DeMar DeRozan, Jakob Poeltl, and a 2019 protected first-round pick.

Despite having Kawhi Leonard for only nine games last season, the Spurs did manage to win 47 games in the always tough Western Conference. In DeRozan, the Spurs get a four-time All-Star, who averaged 20 points or more per game for the past five years, including a career-best 27.3 PPG in the 2016-17 season. So, the Spurs are getting a terrific player,

According to TNT’s NBA analyst Kenny Smith, the Spurs can still be contenders in the Western Conference with the acquisition of DeRozan:

“He(DeRozan) could do what Kawhi has been doing for the Spurs,” Smith told TMZ Sports.  “They’ll still be a contending team in the West. He and LaMarcus Aldridge, they got a good team still. Then, they have a great coach, so the Spurs won’t miss too much of a beat.”

At this point, the Spurs are probably not on the level of the Warriors or Rockets, but they still can make some noise in the Western Conference, especially if Dejounte Murray takes the next step in his development. Plus, Aldridge is an All-Star and one of the better power forwards in the game.

With all that said, life after Kawhi may not be that bad in San Antonio.

Stephen A. Smith to Kawhi: ‘Enjoy Canada for a year; see you in L.A’

It finally happened. According to ESPN, the San Antonio Spurs will trade Kawhi Leonard and Danny Green to Toronto for DeMar DeRozan, Jakob Poeltl, and a 2019 protected first-round pick.

DeRozan and Leonard are reportedly not happy with the trade.

https://twitter.com/KanyeHasAnStd/status/1019561901016035330

Regarding this deal, Toronto gets better with Leonard in the lineup, but can they keep him moving forward? Leonard, 27, reportedly wants to play in Los Angeles and can be a free agent next summer.

Concerning DeRozan, he helps the Spurs now. The Spurs won 47 games essentially without Leonard, who played in only nine games due to a quad injury.

DeRozan, 28,  has three years left on his contract and can opt out in 2021.

ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith gave his thoughts on the trade via Twitter.

Take a look:

Even if Leonard leaves, Toronto still makes out pretty good with this deal. It became clear that they were not going to the NBA Finals with DeRozan and Kyle Lowry leading the way. Therefore, taking a shot at Leonard and trying to convince him to stay, is not a bad move, and with LeBron out the way, Toronto can be considered one of the favorites in the East.