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Old 12-02-18, 03:41 PM
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Spurs players preach team unity in wake of blowouts

In the best of times under coach Gregg Popovich, the Spurs always won as a team. When a player, coach or front-office member won an award, for example, they quickly shared the credit with others.

Now that their fortunes have changed, the Spurs are handling adversity in the same manner — as a team.

“Whatever we go through, we have to stay together as a team, as a unit,” forward Dante Cunningham said. “We can’t start fracturing just because we’ve had some bad losses back to back.”

In losing by 39 points to Minnesota on Wednesday and by 31 to Houston on Friday, the Spurs sank to 14th in the West at 10-12. They haven’t been that far down in the standings this late in the season since the end of the 1996-97 campaign, which resulted in the drafting of Tim Duncan No. 1 overall after a franchise-worst 20-62 showing.

“Guys feel embarrassed and deflated,” said guard Patty Mills, the longest-tenured Spur on the roster. “It’s the big picture. It’s who we represent when we put these jerseys on. It’s much bigger than that, and we need to understand we are here just for a short time in this organization that will be here for a lot longer than we are, and we’ve got to take pride in that.”

Like Cunningham, Mills preached team unity in the wake of the devastating setbacks.

“We will all stick together because we are all good people,” Mills said.

Cunningham agreed.

“We have great character guys,” he said. “We have no problem child or issues or anything like that.”

Spurs coach Gregg Popovich shouldered some of the blame after the 136-105 loss to the Rockets, but forward LaMarcus Aldridge said the players also must be accountable.

“It’s on everyone,” Aldridge said. “It’s a team sport. We all have to try to be better, do better, and figure it out.”

That process began with a 90-minute practice Saturday that included a lengthy discussion between the players and the coaches of what’s gone wrong the past two games.

“We had a lot of things to talk about,” forward Davis Bertans said. “I think everybody understands we can only go up from here. We had a couple of really bad games, so it can’t be worse than that. We just have to go out there and compete. That’s the key.”

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