It's been a while since we saw the Spurs, and in this first preseason game, not many people were able to see them because the only coverage was only a local stream for people in the immediate area surrounding Phoenix. I was hoping to at least get audio coverage of the game through League Pass, but they were having technical issues, and they just couldn't deliver the content.
LaMarcus Aldridge, Tony Parker, Manu Ginobili, Patty Mills, Danny Green and Pau Gasol didn't make the trip to Talking Stick Resort Arena, so the Spurs lineup for this game consisted of Kawhi Leonard and a bunch of guys who are either new to the team or are trying to win a spot. Except for Jonathon Simmons and Kyle Anderson, who are going to have much bigger roles this year than last.
Because of the technical issues I encountered, mostly I watched the game through highlights and tweets. But there were a lot of good ones, so I hope you'll enjoy the story they tell.
The first quarter continued to be fun to watch for Spurs fans as the team continued to excel. DeJounte Murray is a revelation, and he might just be much better than expected.
Kawhi is now the best player on the team, and he showed it with his play in the first half.
At the half, the Spurs led 51-40, with Kawhi Leonard, Kyle Anderson and Dejounte Murray doing most of the damage. Nobody but Devin Booker had much of an impact for the Suns, but he was terrific with 11 points in the first half.
Booker continued on his hot streak as the second half started, and the Spurs went cold as the Suns rushed to a 58-56 lead midway through the quarter. Davis Bertans did his part to keep the Spurs in the game.
But the play of the team in silver and black continued to be sloppy, leading to missed opportunities for the good guys and easy points for the Suns.
Twenty five turnovers in less than three quarters seems like a lot.— Jeff McDonald (@JMcDonald_SAEN) October 4, 2016
At the end of three quarters, the Suns led 73-69.
Patricio Garino started the fourth with a made three-point shot which brought the Spurs to within a point, but Archie Goodwin stole an errant Kyle Anderson pass and got fouled by Jonathon Simmons on the way to the basket, leading to two more Suns points at the line.
Livio Jean-Charles looked good at spots but picked up a lot of fouls in relatively few minutes, probably because he hasn't got used to the NBA rules for setting screens yet.
The Spurs were down 87-78 with 3:20 left when Joel Anthony hit a layup, then a Bertans steal led to another Anthony layup, and Ryan Arcidiacono hit a three to cut the deficit to just two points with 2:47 left. But two free throws from Alan Williams and Archie Goodwin's shot that was goaltended by Bertans pushed the lead back to six with 2:05 left.
Joel Anthony stepped up and blocked a shot, but Bryn Forbes couldn't hit a three and the only other score was a meaningless free throw from Forbes with 11 seconds to make the final score 91-86.
That's a wrap from the Ridiculously Named Arena in the desert. Spurs fall to Suns in their preseason opener 91-86.— Jeff McDonald (@JMcDonald_SAEN) October 4, 2016
Of course, this game didn't count. Preseason games are for evaluating players and giving players an opportunity to learn without worrying about affecting the playoff picture. In that respect, it was a great success. Kawhi was terrific and showed he can carry the team with his fast start. DeJounte Murray exceeded expectations with his clutch shooting and off the charts athleticism. Livio Jean-Charles showed he had a lot to learn in the NBA, but played well in spots. Simmons was solid, and Joel Anthony made some plays late in the game. David Lee gets an incomplete, as do the young Argentines, Laprovittolla and Garino. Dewayne Dedmon barely showed up in the box score, so maybe he also gets an I. But every Spur on the active roster scored points. I'm making a note here, huge success. Even if a lot of Spurs fans might overreact to the loss.