In another of a seemingly unending list of “must win” games, the Spurs welcomed the lottery bound Orlando Magic into the AT&T Arena. The Magic entered having lost 7 or their last 8 games and were on the first night of a back to back, but the Spurs knew that they had to remain sharp, especially against the returning Jonathon Simmons (who hit the Spurs with 17 points in their last matchup). The Spurs knew what they had to do - WIN - and they did.
With a new starting lineup (the 24th this season) of Patty Mills, Dejounte Murray, Danny Green, Kyle Anderson and LaMarcus Aldridge, the good guys came out wanting to get LMA the ball early. After a couple of good defensive possessions, he obliged with a nice turnaround jumper. But the Magic, with nothing to lose, were playing loose and kept close to the Spurs for most of the first. Defense seemed to be the key in this quarter with Danny Green and Pau Gasol getting a couple. Offense was moving well, especially Tony Parker who looked very smooth and was hitting his shots and helping his teammates hit theirs.
But not all the open shots were falling, despite the Spurs shooting 61.1% FG.
End of the 1st: Spurs 24 - Magic 18
The Magic came out in the 2nd aggressively and the Spurs tried to keep the same level. Parker and Gasol hooked up with a sweet vet move that led to a Gasol and-1. Dejounte Murray had a couple of sneaky steals (I can’t be the only one who loves his aggression and confidence, right?) that led to a missed layup by Bryn Forbes and to a beautiful steal breakaway dunk (Kawhi Leonard special).
The Silver and Black hustled on both the offensive and defensive boards, the former leading to several second chance buckets. Spurs fans were also treated to the return of the Tazmanian Devil - Patty Mills - who stole an inbound pass, that after a pass to and from Kyle Anderson, resulted in a nice three. (I have missed hearing Sean Elliott making his Tazmanian Devil growling.) LMA also showed his moves with a sick up-and-under move for two points towards the end of the quarter.
LMA has guys scratching their heads tonight. pic.twitter.com/Uzcgy3dMJJ— J.R. Wilco (@jollyrogerwilco) March 14, 2018
End of 2nd: Spurs 62 - Magic 37
The quarter started with a Patty Mills 3 and the Spurs remained aggressive offensively, increasing the lead into the 30s with strong offensive movement, but the defense looked a little sluggish. Luckily for the Spurs, the Magic were missing their shots. LMA continued to look for his shots while Green and Mills kept shooting threes to keep the lead in the 30s.
End of the 3rd: Spurs 96 - Magic 57
The Spurs start the quarter cold offensively, missing three shots before Forbes hit a three and then they went cold again. But defense was still working when Davis Bertans blocked Shelvin Mack’s shot. With the five points the Spurs scored early in the quarter, the lead went up to 40 points, but the Magic hit a couple of shots to bring it back into the thirties. As the quarter wound down, it seemed like neither team wanted to score anymore, going almost two minutes without scoring on two different occasions.
Final: Spurs 108 - Magic 72
- The rest of the Western Conference didn’t do the Spurs any favors, with the Timberwolves, Thunder, Pelicans and Clippers all winning. By the end of this game, the Jazz were beating the Pistons and Denver vs. Los Angeles was just starting. If the Lakers beat the Nuggets, the Spurs could move up to 9th (if I understood the math, and I usually don’t understand math - which is why I teach history).
- The Spurs’ defense was on point for most of this game. The Silver and Black also didn’t allow Jonathon Simmons to have a “revenge” game, holding him to 10 points.
- After hearing during pre-game that Kawhi Leonard was probably not going to return on Thursday for the game versus the Pelicans, some Spurs fans were looking for anything positive about the Klaw. That’s just cruel J.R. Wilco.
Newsflash: Kawhi Leonard is on the floor. I repeat. Kawhi is on the floor! pic.twitter.com/As6AG2kSBL— J.R. Wilco (@jollyrogerwilco) March 14, 2018
The Spurs next “must win” game is Thursday against the New Orleans Pelicans at 7:30 p.m.