The San Antonio Spurs suffered another fourth quarter meltdown on Wednesday night, letting a late lead slip away as the Los Angeles Lakers rallied for a 121-113 victory at the Staples Center.
With the loss, the Spurs move to 11-14 on the season. Their chances of making the playoffs for a 22nd consecutive season are already in jeopardy. After the game, All-Star DeMar DeRozan called the loss "embarrassing" and ripped the team for another late-game unraveling.
"It's frustrating. This organization hasn't lost like this—I haven't lost like this—in a while," DeRozan said, via Eric Pincus of Bleacher Report. "So close against so many great teams, and [then losing] a few games in an embarrassing way sucks. But we're all grown men. We have to understand the beauty of adversity is how you get out of it."
DeRozan certainly was not the reason for San Antonio's loss on Wednesday night. The 29-year-old had 32 points, seven rebounds and three assists. It was DeRozan's seventh 30-point game of the 2018-19 season, but he's simply not getting enough support from the other Spurs.
The Spurs were forced to trade a disgruntled Kawhi Leonard in the offseason, but the acquisition of DeRozan via the Toronto Raptors was supposed to keep this playoff window open. With DeRozan, LaMarcus Aldridge and Rudy Gay leading the way, the pieces were in place for San Antonio to make another run at the playoffs.
Only the Phoenix Suns (4-20), have a worse record in the Western Conference than the Spurs, who trail the Dallas Mavericks by two games for the final playoff spot. Unless the Spurs suddenly start getting more contributions from their bench players and other veterans, then it's hard to imagine them squeaking into the playoffs once again.
What This Means
With contests against the Lakers, Los Angeles Clippers and Philadelphia 76ers looming, San Antonio's schedule doesn't get any easier. It may only be December, but the team truly is facing a crucial stretch, one that could determine if they manage to get back into the playoff race or not.
But for all we know, the Spurs are no longer a powerhouse in the Western Conference, and perhaps one of the most dominant runs in North American sports is coming to an end now.