In the pre-game, Spurs announcer Sean Elliot was pretty worried about his former team, as he remembered from his time as a player that the most difficult game of a road trip is the first game when you get back. You tend to lose the focus you have on the road and it's almost always a big letdown. Tonight we saw a team that couldn't get out of their own way, and Frank Vogel's Magic were all too happy to take advantage and add a game to their win column.
Serge Ibaka opened the scoring for the Magic, but Kawhi Leonard quickly answered with a smooth stepback jumper. An Aldridge jumper doubled the Spurs lead. The Spurs exploited the defense of Aaron Gordon and Serge to draw free throws. Evan Fournier scored a pair of free throws, and then both teams went into a display of ugly basketball. Airballs, turnovers, and Bismack Biyombo handling the basketball. After a timeout, a Parker steal led to a LaMarcus dunk which was a good break from the doldrums and put the Spurs up 9-6.
In an uncharacteristic bit of sloppy play, Kawhi lost his dribble and left the ball behind on the court for DJ Augustin to pick up, but despite an easy path to the basket, DJ missed the layup attempt. After the Magic played volleyball under the basket for what seemed like a minute, Aaron Gordon was finally able to tip the ball in for two. The Spurs continued to stumble and the Magic skidded to a 12-9 lead behind baskets from Nikola Vucevic and Augustin. After a basket from Aldridge, the Spurs juice unit entered the game with Jonathon Simmons, Patty Mills, Manu Ginobili, Dewayne Dedmon and David Lee. A pair of Patty threes and a Dedmon putback helped the Spurs surge to a 20-16 lead. It wasn't a masterpiece of a quarter, but the end result wasn't as bad as it could have been – at least the Spurs had a lead.
Tony with the steal.— San Antonio Spurs (@spurs) November 30, 2016
LA with the dunk.
Dewayne with the perfect reaction. pic.twitter.com/aoUH8oZJo3
Both teams left their benches in the game at the beginning of the second quarter and Elfrid Payton hoisted a shot over Manu that somehow went in to open the scoring for the Magic. The cold shooting continued for both teams but Jonathon Simmons took the ball to Jeff Green under the basket and was able to knock down a tough layup over a pair of outstretched arms. Dedmon started to show Spurs fans what they've been missing while he's been out the last several games with a block and a layup off a Pau Gasol assist to stake the Spurs to a 24-18 lead.
Halfway through the quarter, the Spurs had scored 4 and the Magic just 5. But the Magic continued to score and grabbed the lead on a 9-0 run, provoking a Gregg Popovich timeout.
Pau Gasol slowed the hemorrhaging with a buzzer-beating jumper in the lane, but a few Elfrid Payton jumpers sparked a 6-0 mini-run. For a brief moment, the Spurs players seemed to remember that they were on a team, and the ball movement began to pick up, and a Manu assist for an easy Gasol layup off a pick and roll caused Frank Vogel to call a timeout with his team up 35-32.
Halfway through the quarter, the Spurs bench started to make some inroads on the Magic lead, and a David Lee assist to Patty put the Spurs up by 3, but then the Magic answered with a Serge Ibaka triple to tie it at 40. The last 30 seconds of the half featured the offense that was missing from the first 23.5 minutes, as both teams hit clutch shots, but Evan Fournier's buzzer-beater three-point shot put the Magic up 45-43 at the break.
Hey, guys. Kawhi Leonard just did a thing. pic.twitter.com/CbFSO3I6pY— J.R. Wilco (@jollyrogerwilco) November 30, 2016
The Spurs offense continued to stagnate as the second half began. The Magic scored the first bucket on a pair of Biyombo and Gordon dunks. But a Kawhi triple and a Danny Green drive to the basket brought the Spurs to within one point.
The Spurs were able to take the lead briefly, but an Augustin triple gave the Magic a 56-54 lead. Then Ibaka got free to extend the lead with a three pointer. A collision between Biyombo and Vucevic on an alley-oop attempt led to a 5-on-3 fast break for the Spurs, which ended in a missed Danny Green shot. It was just that kind of night for the Spurs. Aaron Gordon's open three point shot and Vucevic's jumper in the lane put the Magic up by 8.
With 4 minutes left in the quarter, Pop put in his bench, and they started to provide some of the energy that had been missing, but a Payton steal and breakaway pushed the Magic lead to 71-62. The third quarter ended up with the Magic up 75-64.
Despite a spectacular block from Davis Bertans, the Magic continued to build their lead as the Spurs defense didn't make stops when they needed them. A Patty Mills steal and fast break finally got the Spurs off the schneid and cut the lead to 7 points, but Ibaka and Jeff Green hit baskets and the lead was again back to double digits. It was starting to look like another home stinker for the Silver and Black.
As ugly as the game had been to this point, it got uglier, and with three and a half minutes left, Pop inserted Dejounte Murray into the game. He made a great effort to steal the ball but wasn't able to control it, and the Magic got an easy dunk. The teams traded baskets in garbage time and Orlando won 95-83.
- The last two games for the Spurs have been against the Magic and the Wizards. That's as close as you can get to a Dungeons and Dragons lineup in the NBA. Timmy would have loved that.
- The Spurs blew at least five fast breaks where they had the advantage and didn't score. Even in the halfcourt offense, the spacing was terrible. The Spurs looked like they forgot how to play basketball tonight.
- The Spurs shot 37% for the game and had 18 turnovers. It seemed a lot worse than that while watching.
- In the last minutes of a game that was completely out of reach, Manu's intensity didn't waver, barking at Murray to play harder on defense and grab rebounds. He just doesn't know how to lay off the brakes. If a few other players had played with that kind of intensity, no doubt it would have been a much closer game.
- Dewayne Dedmon was one of the bright spots tonight. Hopefully he can become a part of the regular rotation.
The Spurs record is now 14-4, but they are only 4-4 at home. Tonight, the Spurs head up I-35 to play the Dirk-less Dallas Mavericks. The game starts at 7:30, so you have plenty of time to pick up a six pack on the drive home from work, if that's your wont. The last contest against the Mavs was a lot closer than it should have been, so it's not a contest that the good guys can take for granted. At least it's a road game.