The loss to the Nets was Spurs’ mediocre season in a nutshell

Well make him like what he saw of some of the Spurs.

“Our best team on the pitch was the team that was there for the last eight minutes,” said Popovich, referring to a waste collection team led by veteran Gorgui Dieng, who finished with seven points, four rebounds and three assists all this in the fourth quarter.

As Spurs trailed by 17 points at 8:18 left, Popovich called the time-out to replace DeMar DeRozan, Lonnie Walker IV, Patty Mills and Rudy Gay with Tre Jones, Keita Bates-Diop, Luka Samanic and Devin Vassell.

This new quartet, who got help from Drew Eubanks after a broken finger forced Samanic out of the game, joined Dieng in beating James Harden and a few other Nets regulars 27-22 the rest of the time and giving Popovich a lesson in mental toughness and consistency to come home afterwards.

“If everyone who played the first three quarters had moved like the guys who played the last eight minutes, we would have been in much better shape,” he said at his Zoom press conference. post-game. “That’s what makes you a great team when you have that consistency.”

Coming two days after beating Milwaukee at the AT&T Center, the Spurs’ loss to Brooklyn was a microcosm of their lackluster season.

After missing the Bucks 146-125 on Monday, the Spurs were hopeful that all they had done right against the Bucks would continue when they met another Eastern Conference power.

But as has happened so many times this season, there has been no postponement.

“We just need to be more consistent with our competitiveness and our execution,” Popovich said. “We had no help in the first quarter and we gave them the advantage. That mental stamina to play after playing a hell of a game has to be there. It hasn’t been there, and that’s what we’re trying to do. This is the next step. “

Powered by a 17-4 run, the Nets led 35-20 after the first quarter. The Spurs shot less than a point in the second, but Brooklyn led by six at the break and was in control throughout the second half.

It was a disappointing performance for a team battling for a place in the play-in tournament. The Spurs (33-36) entered Thursday night’s game at the New York Knicks with a win in their last three games or a loss to Sacramento in their last three outings to clinch a play-in spot.

“I’m a winner so this entire season has been disappointing me so far,” said Spurs point guard Dejounte Murray, who finished with 15 points and 11 rebounds against Brooklyn in his 14th double-double of the season.

What disappointed Murray the most about Wednesday’s performance was that she was so far removed from what the Spurs looked like against the Bucks.

“You saw how we played in Milwaukee, a contending team, a very good team, well trained,” said Murray. “Obviously we did shoot, but you could see the energy, see the guys talking to each other, and it has to be everyday. Consistency is the key, and it always starts with me. “

After shooting a season-best 58.6% (17 of 29) at 3 points against the Bucks, the Spurs only managed 25.8% (8 of 31) shots from beyond the arc against the Nets.

But it wasn’t just one bad shot that doomed Spurs at Barclays Center. They just weren’t mentally tough, Murray said.

As a result, the Nets finished with eight double-digit players, including Harden, who finished with 18 points and 11 assists off the bench in his opener after missing 18 in a row with a hamstring injury. leggings. The Nets have also scored 68 points in the paint, the most from a Spurs opponent this season.

“It has a lot to do with talking to each other, helping help, being there for your brother, having that passion every night,” Murray said.

Murray agreed with Popovich that the cleaning crew’s effort put regulars to shame.

“This latter group came in and played and fought,” he said.

So, will this Spurs squad ever be able to gain the mental toughness and consistency it lacks this season?

“Mental toughness, heart, all of that, I feel like it’s just something you have to have,” Murray said. “It’s going to be really hard to teach that. I believe a lot of guys have it – it’s just whether they want to bring it or not, starting with me too. I’m not targeting anyone. It has to be every day – every practice, every practice, every game. He’s got to be there, that mental stamina and that heart.

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Twitter: @tom_orsborn

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Lillie Berry

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