Pau Gasol: Spurs' margin for error getting 'slimmer and slimmer'

ByOhm Youngmisuk ESPN logo
Thursday, April 5, 2018

LOS ANGELES -- It was the "worst" possible road trip to Los Angeles for the San Antonio Spurs.

One night after blowing a 19-point lead in a loss to the LA Clippers, the Spurs fell 122-112 in overtime to the struggling and undermanned Los Angeles Lakers at Staples Center on Wednesday.

The back-to-back losses dropped the Spurs to fifth in a heated Western Conference playoff race. The No. 4 through No. 10 spots in the West are separated by three games or less in the loss column with one week remaining in the NBA regular season.

The Denver Nuggets (43-35) are just one game out of the eighth spot behind the New Orleans Pelicans (44-34) and 1.5 games behind the Spurs (45-34).

"Man, we've got to know that every game is a playoff, a Game 7 for us," said point guard Dejounte Murray, who had 23 points, 10 rebounds and six assists. "We've got to play for 48 minutes, and if the game decides to go to overtime like it did tonight, we've got to be ready to play even more. We've just got to be ready to compete for the whole game. We come out hot in a lot of games, and there are some quarters we give up 38-40 points, and it ends up hurting us in the end."

"We are staying together," Murray added. "One thing I can say, we are staying together. There is a lot going on. When you lose games, it is easy to lose focus."

The Spurs have three games remaining -- against Portland, Sacramento and at New Orleans -- to clinch a 21st-consecutive playoff berth, which would snap a tie between Gregg Popovich and Phil Jackson for the most consecutive playoff appearances by a coach in NBA history.

Center Pau Gasol said the Spurs' margin for error is slim and "has been for a while."

"We have been talking about that," Gasol said. "It just gets slimmer and slimmer."

On Tuesday, the Spurs led by 19 in the second quarter and later by 11 in the fourth only to allow the Clippers (42-36) to score 41 points in the fourth to keep their playoff hopes alive and trail the Pelicans by two games in the loss column for the eighth spot.

The loss guaranteed the Spurs wouldn't extend their streak of 50-win seasons to 19 consecutive years.

One night later, the Spurs found themselves in another fourth-quarter battle with the Lakers, who didn't have Brandon Ingram(concussion protocol) and Lonzo Ball(left knee contusion).

Rookie Josh Hart had a chance to beat the Spurs at the end of regulation, but his driving layup in traffic between LaMarcus Aldridge (28 points) and Kyle Anderson rolled off the rim at the buzzer.

But the Lakers (34-44) snapped a three-game losing streak, led by rookie Kyle Kuzma, who scored30 points. Kuzma outscored the Spurs 6-4 in overtime to help the Lakers sweep the season series (3-0) against the Spurs for the first time since 1997-98.

"It was the worst outcome, losing two games that we had our chances and even times, especially yesterday, were in control with big leads," Gasol said. "But two losses, and that is reality. Tonight, a tough one as well. Give them credit, they made a lot of tough shots, a lot just unreal, but it can happen. These guys play with no fear and have the green light to get them up."

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