The San Antonio Spurs tried to compete against the Chicago Bulls, and even though they played some solid basketball at times – especially in the first half – the absence of many of their usual contributors proved to be the big difference at the AT&T Center.
Gregg Popovich was forced to be creative with the starting lineup as Tiago Splitter, Danny Green, Kawhi Leonard and Manu Ginobili were all sidelined with different injuries, so as a result, the Spurs had to line up the likes of Nando de Colo and Othis Jeffrys. As expected, the Spurs couldn’t match up with the red-hot Bulls and they dropped the contest by a 96-86 score.
The loss wasn’t really a surprise, as the Spurs were seriously depleted, especially on the defensive side of the ball. The days of Tim Duncan doing it all by himself are long gone and Jeff Ayres simply couldn’t stop Carlos Boozer or Joakim Noah. The Bulls pounded the ball inside early and often, dominated the glass, and scored plenty of second-chance points that helped them to build a strong lead in the second half.
Things weren’t much better on offense, as the Spurs turned the ball over a season-high 19 times and the absence of Green and Ginobili was noticeable both handling the ball and spreading the floor. Patty Mills was able to contribute in the same way he has done it this season, but Marco Belinelli and De Colo both struggled and the Spurs felt it down the stretch, where they didn’t have a reliable scoring option outside of Duncan and Tony Parker.
The Spurs are now riding a three-game losing streak for the first time since April last year, and the immediate future doesn’t look bright. It’s pretty noticeable that Popovich won’t be able to turn things around until their starters are back and since that won’t happen in a few weeks, the Spurs can’t do nothing else then hoping for the best to avoid losing more games as the schedule enters the final three months of the regular season.