This has not been a typical San Antonio Spurs season when they fight for a top spot in the West, flex their defensive muscle and administer blowout losses.
Its been quite the opposite.
San Antonio finds itself circling the bottom of the West standings (11-14), owning one of the worst defenses in the league and suffering three 30-point losses in three of their last five games.
"Oh yeah, it’s frustrating," said DeMar DeRozan following the team's loss Wednesday to the Los Angeles Lakers. "[The Spurs] haven’t lost like this in a while and guys, period, don’t want to lose."
At the center of their struggles - defense.
San Antonio's defense ranks seventh in the league at 113.7 points allowed. This has been highlighted in recent losses where the Spurs gave up 139 points to Utah and 136 points to Houston.
“I haven’t been here that long to say what it was like compared to other years, but no one is happy we’re losing," said LaMarcus Aldridge. "Everyone’s trying to do their part and get better."
One can point to the fact the Spurs saw a major overhaul of their roster in the off-season, especially on the defensive end. Gone are Kyle Anderson, Danny Green and two-time Defensive Player of the Year Kawhi Leonard.
This season, the coaching staff is looking to players who aren't at the same defensive level as those who have exited. Opposing teams are taking advantage of the Spurs' porous defense.
The Spurs rank second in the league at allowing 48.6 field goal shooting, and fourth in the NBA at opposing team three-point percentage at 37.2 percent.
“That’s what’s different. That’s a big deal," Aldridge said regarding roster changes. "The Spurs have had little turnover over the years, so they never had to go through that. Now, we’re going through it, so it just takes time.”
Time may not be on their side at the quarter-mark of the season.
As losses pile up, the gap between any hope of a playoff berth and continuing their playoff appearance streak dwindles.
Said DeRozan, "To be in this position--come so close against so many great teams and lose a few games in an embarrassing way—kind of sucks."
There may be a springboard for the team to pick up wins and rid themselves of the taste of losing.
San Antonio is beginning a six-game home-stand where the Spurs are 7-4 this season. At the AT&T Center, the Spurs are holding teams to 108 points per game, and Aldridge is averaging 20 points and 10.4 rebounds.
"Everyone’s trying to do their part and get better. It’s just a different team, a new makeup," Aldridge added. "We just have to figure it out.”
Asked about the recent team struggles, and what it'll take to crawl out of it, DeRozan says recognizing the recent losses can help in the long run.
"We’re all grown men," said DeRozan. "We have to understand the beauty of adversity is how you get out of it, and that’s what we have to keep telling ourselves.”