In a schizophrenic game that saw both the Spurs and the Nets go through endless shooting droughts, San Antonio came back from a seven point deficit midway through the fourth quarter to win their Summer League playoff game 74-71 at the Thomas and Mack Center in Las Vegas. Kyle Anderson led all scorers with 25 points and also paced the Spurs with eight rebounds. Jonathon Simmons, who played on the Nets Summer League team in Orlando before being signed to a two-year contract by the Spurs, added 18 points and a game-high five assists.
It was a match-up of two teams without much NBA experience on their rosters. For the Spurs, besides Anderson only Brandon Davies and Will Cherry have played in the league. For the Nets meanwhile, only Markel Brown could make that claim. That lack of pedigree showed early on, especially for Brooklyn, when they missed their opening ten shots. Spurs second-round pick Cady Lalanne started well, with an emphatic block at the rim on one and a smooth turnaround jumper on the other, and he, along with Davies, were patrolling the paint at the start. Anderson had a sequence where he dropped in a floater, had an open-court steal and finished a tough and-1, and it helped the Spurs get out front early, even though they had poor ball movement overall. The Nets actually recorded the first assist of the ballgame, on their first field goal, six minutes into the proceedings. Simmons came off the bench and quickly provided a pair of driving layups, one with either hand, and the Spurs led 21-13 after one quarter.
The Spurs extended the lead to 18 midway through the second period, as the Nets frigid shooting sank to a 4-of-28 abyss. Simmons once again displayed his world-class hops, slamming home an alley-oop after Anderson found him on the back-cut. A couple trips later, Simmons canned a catch-and-shoot three from the left wing off an offensive rebound. Lelanne nailed a pair of long jumpers as well, one from the left elbow and one from the left baseline, and he was the Spurs best player overall in the first half, with 8 points, 5 rebounds and 2 blocks. The Nets closed with a 12-2 run however and San Antonio led 36-28 at half.
The Nets extended their run to 21-4 overlapping the second and third quarters before Anderson scored seven straight for the Spurs, with another and-1 drive, a floater, and a three from the right wing right at the shot clock buzzer. Becky Hammon's trips couldn't get much more than that going in the third quarter though, and the Nets closed the quarter with another 9-2 run to take a 52-50 lead after three. The Spurs were shooting just 36.5 percent (19-of-52), they'd made just 3-of-13 threes, and they had but seven assists through 30 minutes. Anderson had a game-high 15 points, but he was forcing up a lot of ugly shots, making 7-of-17 to that point, and the Nets were starting to dominate the glass to earn a boatload of second-chance points.
Brooklyn stretched their lead to seven a couple of times early in the fourth quarter, but the Spurs went back in front with an 8-0 run. Simmons showed off his Euro-step for a layup, Anderson went coast-to-coast for another score and then Anderson found Jarell Eddie in the left corner for a game-tying three. After a time out, Hammon called a variation of the "hammer" play and Simmons, driving right again found Eddie in the same spot, this time with a brilliant, Ginobili-esque hook pass. Eddie made it count, and he gave the Spurs the lead once more. After "Slow-Mo" got a weak sauce floater swatted back in his grill, Simmons corralled the loose ball, drove and dished it to Anderson for the easy jam to extend the San Antonio run to 14-4.
Just when it was looking like the Spurs would win going away, they almost gakked it up. Both teams had taken care of the ball pretty well for a Summer League game, but Simmons and Shannon Scott turned it over on three straight possessions, and the Nets turned a couple of those into breakaway layups for a 71-70 lead. With just over a minute to go though Simmons made another Manu play, selling an offensive foul as he tried to negotiate a screen, giving the ball back to the Spurs. Anderson made the go-ahead free-throws on the other end on a call that left Nets coach Joe Wolf incredulous, and Simmons extended the lead to the final margin on a lefty driving layup. From there the Nets turned it over once more and then Anderson closed out well on their last gasp three-point attempt and the Spurs were victorious.
It wasn't the prettiest game, but a very positive one for the Spurs in the end. Simmons had his best game yet and made a number of clutch plays on both ends of the floor, showing his wares as a scorer, playmaker and defender. The coaching staff have to be astounded by his potential as another San Antonio diamond in the rough. Anderson overcame a rough start with a 6-for-10 second half and continued to show improvement in all aspects. Eddie had scant breathing room for three quarters but then drained two huge bombs late. The game may not have needed to go down to the wire if Lalanne and Davies got more run in the second half, but Hammon wanted to give the backup bigs some run.
The Spurs are now 3-1 in Sin City and will play the winner of the Hawks and Nuggets on Saturday in the quarter-finals.