Spurs Notes: Losing Streak, Bassey, Vassell, Champagnie

The Spurs are searching for answers after dropping their 14th straight game Friday night in New Orleans, writes Jeff McDonald of The San Antonio Express-News. A season that began with great optimism after winning the lottery and adding Victor Wembanyama has hit a major rough spot as San Antonio has fallen into the Western Conference basement with a 3-16 record.

“Nobody is going to feel sorry for us,” Keldon Johnson said. “We understand if we want to win, we have to go out there and do things it takes to win, make the right plays. The whole team understands that. We’ve just got to put it together.”

The Wembanyama era got off to a terrific start as the Spurs ended October and began November with a pair of victories at Phoenix that raised their record to 3-2. They haven’t won since then amid issues with fouling too much and not protecting the ball, which are common for young teams.

“I don’t know any ‘no turnover drills’ or any ‘no foul’ drills,” coach Gregg Popovich said after Friday’s loss. “It’s judgment. It’s decision-making. They’ve just got to figure it out.”

There’s more on the Spurs:

  • San Antonio got a lift Friday from Charles Bassey, who saw extra playing time with Wembanyama sitting out the second night of a back-to-back, McDonald notes in a separate story. Although the third-year center put up eight points, 11 rebounds and three blocks in 19 minutes, he understands those opportunities aren’t going to be frequent. “I know my role,” Bassey said. “Just go out there and bring energy to the team. I feel like I’m doing a good job of that.”
  • Devin Vassell, the Spurs’ leading scorer, has been coming off the bench in the past four games, but Popovich indicated that will change soon, McDonald adds. Vassell has been on a minutes restriction since a groin issue forced him to miss three games. “It’s a minutes thing,” Popovich said. “If he starts, he doesn’t get enough minutes.”
  • Julian Champagnie got off to a poor shooting start this season, missing 12 of his first 16 three-point attempts, but McDonald points out that he didn’t have to be concerned about his NBA future after signing a four-year contract this summer that includes a $3MM guarantee for 2023/24. Champagnie was 3-of-6 from long distance against New Orleans and has hit 11-of-20 in his last three games. “I just kept shooting, practicing, staying aggressive, getting in the gym and taking shots I know I can make,” Champagnie said. “Staying out of my own head has been the biggest thing for me.”
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