The Spurs' standard of excellence the past decade is dissolving before our very eyes.
Signs of their apocalypse are everywhere, most notably through their 3-14 record against the seven other Western Conference teams currently in playoff position. After compiling the NBA's best road record over the past decade, they are under .500 (10-11) away from home this season and face an NBA-high 20 more road contests.
And the latest sign of the Spurs' demise came Monday night against a Lakers team that was without
But forget the numbers for a moment and just watch the games. Duncan, the most reliable player in the league over the past decade, was dominated down the stretch by
Make no mistake: We're picking on Duncan to dramatize San Antonio's dire straits, because he's clearly been its best player this season. For handier scapegoats, try swingman
By the numbers, the Spurs are among the league's top 10 in both offensive (eighth) and defensive (10th) efficiency. According to
The dynastic Spurs had a killer instinct. Led most recently by
This year, San Antonio is plus-3 points in average first-quarter margin, the
Two years ago, the Spurs were indomitable while beating the second-seeded Hornets in a seventh game on the road in the second round of the playoffs. But they went out meekly in the next round against the Lakers, much as they did in last season's playoffs, losing four out of five in a first-round elimination against Dallas. They look older and slower now, their undersized frontcourt beside Duncan (13-year veteran
The Spurs are one of five teams with winning records in the Southwest, making it the league's most competitive and arguably most entertaining divisional race (the clubs are separated by only 5½ games). Here's how each team's playoff hopes look as the All-Star break and trade deadline near.
"Firm as firm can be," Kahn said. "We will not move any of the big people in the next 10 days. It would be a mistake of epic proportions."
Later, I followed up and asked if the period before the deadline wasn't a good time for the Wolves to make a move and exploit a situation in which other teams are trying to create salary-cap space for the bountiful free-agent market this offseason.
"Provided that we wanted to add somebody that is a very high-salaried person to fill up our [cap] room," Kahn said. "And surely we think about that all the time -- I think about it daily -- but at this point I am not at all tempted."