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San Antonio vs. Phoenix, Final Score: Spurs squeak by Suns at the buzzer, 126-124

The Spurs were caught playing down to their opponent again but eked out the win.

NBA: Phoenix Suns at San Antonio Spurs Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports

The Spurs continued their habit of playing down to inferior opponents at home against the lowly, depleted Phoenix Suns, resulting in a nail-biter that was only over after a Rudy Gay buzzer-beater for the 126-124 win. Both teams were red-hot throughout in a defense-optional game, but the Spurs just barely did enough to avoid another confounding loss on their resume.

LaMarcus Aldridge led the Spurs with 29 points and 14 rebounds. Man-on-a-mission Davis Bertans had 18 points on 5-12 from three (upping those attempts, I see), including the second-most important shot of the game to put the Spurs up by 4 with 33 seconds left, plus a career-high 4 steals, and five other Spurs scored in double figures. Devin Booker scored 38 points for the Suns, and Spurs-nemesis Jamal Crawford put up 22.

Random Observations

  • Here’s a random stat for you: in their prior game against the Wizards, with 5, 3 and 3 three-pointers, respectively, Bertans, Patty Mills, and Marco Belinelli became the first trio in NBA history to each have 3+ three pointers off the bench in three different games. You got that? Worded differently, there have been three games in which each of them have hit at least 3 threes off the bench: an NBA first. They didn’t get a chance to add to that record tonight even though each hit 3+ threes again because. . .
  • Bertans got the start in place of Pau Gasol (who had been starting in place of DeMar DeRozan). He came out and played with fire. In the first four minutes alone he scored 6 points on 2-2 from three, including a pull-up in transition off one of two steals. Do you think he might be trying to make a point? As a bonus, he was trending on Twitter during the game.
  • Clear path fouls: should they even be a thing when everyone is still in the back court? Phoenix got reviewed for two in this scenario in the first half (both ended up being common fouls as a defender was even with the fouled player), but part of me wonders if they should even exist when everyone is still on one side of the court. Thoughts?
  • Kelly Oubre Jr., who was part of the trade that sent Trevor Ariza to Washington, doesn’t seem nearly as hot-headed as he did with the Wizards. Maybe it’s the more mellow situation in Phoenix, or perhaps it’s not being around volatile personalities like John Wall and Markieff Morris that has brought out the calmer side of him.
  • In a funny moment in the first half, Booker hand-checked Belinelli as he was shooting a three, and the Suns instantly called a timeout as the shot went in. Booker must of thought the whistle was for a foul because he immediately turned and started wagging his finger at the official before the cameras cut away for the commercial break.
  • Lonnie Walker IV again got some burn late in the second quarter as the Spurs were playing with some of their classic complacency against an inferior opponent while swapping leads with the Suns. Not much came of his time on the court, but it shows he’s gaining some trust from Pop.
  • Thanks to the hot shooting from Booker and Crawford, the Spurs had all kinds of trouble pulling away from the Suns. Mini-outbursts from Mills in the third quarter and Bryn Forbes in the fourth gave the Spurs 9 and 7-point leads, respectively, late in those quarters, proving to be just enough cushion to hold on.
  • Derrick White, who will not be a part of the Rising Stars Challenge during All-Star weekend, had a stat-line of 15 points, 7 rebounds and 3 assists (albeit on 6-15 shooting). The fact that this is becoming so expected that it’s hardly even noticeable tells you all you need to know about him.
  • This was the first time in franchise history the Spurs hit 15+ threes in back-to-back games. That feels hard to believe, but it’s true. They hit 15-34 (44.1%) tonight.

For the Suns fan’s perspective, visit Bright Side of the Sun.

The Spurs continue their homestand on Thursday against the upstart Brooklyn Nets. Tip-off will be at 7:30 PM CT on FSSW.