Why Dejounte Murray will make All-Star game; Patty Mills takes Nets teammates out in SA; Pop watch in effect

Popovich 8 wins away from record headed into Memphis home game

(Dejounte Murray Spurs Newsletter)

The NBA regular season is more than halfway done and for the Spurs, it’s been a season of some ups, but many more downs. San Antonio is currently 12th in the Western Conference standings (yikes!). On Dec. 26, the Spurs were four games under .500 at 14-18. Since then, they have lost 12 of 16 games.

Submit your email below to receive KSAT’s Spurs newsletter. Find other free newsletters here.

The roster was hit with COVID and guys have been in and out of the lineup, but that’s been the case for most of the league. And San Antonio is still struggling in late-game situations. The Spurs are 6-14 in “clutch time” games which are defined as less than five minutes remaining in the fourth quarter or overtime with neither team ahead by more than five points. That’s second worst in the league.

Over the past 15 games, San Antonio is 23rd in team offensive rating and 18th in defensive rating. So, has this season gone off the rails? The Spurs can still salvage things and get into the play-in tournament, but it’s going to be an uphill climb. FiveThirtyEight.com only gives San Antonio a 6 percent chance to make the playoffs. It’s dire so let’s get to some better news and notes!

Just put Dejounte in the NBA All-Star game!

(AP Photo/Eric Gay) (Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved)

One of the bright spots in San Antonio’s season has been the play of Dejounte Murray. The Spurs point guard is currently tied for second in the NBA in triple-doubles with nine.

Murray is also doing it on the defensive end. He is tied with Chris Paul for the lead league in steals at two a game. There’s nights when DJ has been a one man band for the Spurs and while it hasn’t translated to a winning record, Murray has done what he can to keep San Antonio competitive on a nightly basis.

Overall, Murray is averaging 19.3 points, 9.0 assists, 8.4 rebounds and 2.0 steals per game. Because of the Spurs record, Murray will need some help to be named to his first All-Star team. Here’s my predictions for the roster.

Backcourt

Chris Paul, Steph Curry, Devin Booker, Luka Doncic, Donovan Mitchell, Ja Morant

Frontcourt

Nikola Jokic, LeBron, Rudy Gobert, Karl Anthony-Towns, Draymond Green (Iffy, but I think he gets in because Golden State has had a great year.)

This leaves one spot that could go to Murray, Deandre Ayton or Anthony Edwards. It could also possibly go to Anthony Davis, but he’s missed 20 games so I would HOPE that takes him out of consideration. That’s how close it is at the moment, but I think Murray has the best case. Spurs fans need something to cheer about. The Fiesta jerseys are great and all, but we need DJ in the ASG! Reserves will be announced on Feb. 3.

Pop watch 2022!

(Photo by Tim Nwachukwu/Getty Images) (2022 Getty Images)

A side plot to this Spurs season has been Gregg Popovich vying to become the NBA’s all-time winningest head coach. He’s now only eight wins away.

Pop was asked by a reporter about getting the record before the Spurs game against Houston and said, “It’s really not something I think about. It only comes up when someone like yourself brings it up, but it’s not meaningful to me.”

The Spurs need to go win eight games, out of 34 remaining, this season to get Pop there. I still feel like this is mostly a lock, but it could be dicey.

Patty and LaMarcus return to San Antonio, then brunch it up

(LaMarcus Aldridge Patty Mills via Spurs tribute video.)

Let’s start with LA. I’m happy LaMarcus returned this season and is healthy. He abruptly retired due to a heart condition — then un-retired this offseason — but never received a proper send off in San Antonio. He got it Friday night as a Brooklyn Net. LA didn’t live up to the expectations placed on him when he arrived in SA, but he had some very productive seasons for the Spurs. It’s good to see him get a chance to win a title with the Nets.

Patty Mills also received a tribute video and ovation inside the AT&T Center. But with Patty, there’s just more of an emotional attachment. The “Bala” came to San Antonio as a towel waving, 12th man off the bench. He was part of the 2014 title team, became a vital part of the Spurs rotation, a beloved teammate and gate keeper of the franchise culture. Off the court, Patty was simply great.

He’s an ambassador for Indigenous people in his native Australia and done numerous things for his country and the San Antonio community. To go from being just a guy on the bench to conversations about his number being retired by the Spurs in the future is pretty incredible. He also knows the value of team bonding. Patty hooked some of the Nets up with a nice brunch on Saturday with food from Singhs, Churro Cart and Naco Eatery, among others. The “Bala Bala” is unparalleled! The Nets shared some pics and a video of the bro brunch!

(Patty Mills and Blake Griffin via Nets Twitter account.)

About the Author:

RJ Marquez is co-host of KSAT News Now and reports for Good Morning San Antonio. He's been at KSAT since 2010 and covered a variety of stories and events across the San Antonio area. He also covers the Spurs for on-air and digital platforms, including his Spurs newsletter. RJ has reported stories for KSAT Explains.