The Spurs took advantage of an uncharacteristic mistake from Ricky Rubio to get the ball back with just seconds left in overtime and score the last 4 points of overtime in the final 6 seconds to pull out a narrow 121-119 win, with Patty Mills hitting clutch shots in the fourth quarter and overtime. It was San Antonio’s fourth consecutive overtime game, and they’ve won three of them. They didn’t play perfectly, but well enough to eke out a win against a struggling Phoenix squad missing their two best players. It was an improbable win, but a welcome one. A non-contact injury to Lonnie Walker IV cast a pall on the proceedings, as he limped off the court and directly to the locker room in the fourth quarter. He had been playing very well lately and in this game, and if he misses significant time, the Spurs will be even in more trouble than they are now.
- I write these articles, but I’m also a Spurs fan, and it’s just getting harder all of the time to say something interesting about their games. It’s not that the Spurs are a bad team, although they certainly are at this point in the season, it’s that they just seem to execute the same script over and over. If you had young guys who made mistakes, that would be interesting, but if the same guys do the same things over and over and it still doesn’t work, and it’s just painful to watch and write about. There were a few times this year where the Spurs didn’t use that script, the Houston game where Lonnie Walker IV got the final shot to push the game into overtime, and the Sacramento game where the Spurs ran a play to get Marco Belinelli a wide open shot to tie the game at the buzzer. Those exceptions just tend to call attention to the lack of creativity that has characterized the team for the rest of the season. There is one person who’s responsible for that lack, and it’s someone who’s been known for creativity for most of their long distinguished career. I dunno, maybe eventually this Gregg Popovich guy will start to figure it out. [sorry, this turned into more of a rant than an observation]
- I remember well the time that the Spurs had a game scheduled in Mexico, and it was canceled because of a fire in the arena. They actually played Phoenix in 2017 in Mexico City, and international games have become a more regular occurrence. I think it’s really great that the league is doing this, there are fans of the NBA all over the world, and having games that they can go to in their own country is only going to make it more popular. Plus, Mexico City is amazing.
- The altitude was really affecting the players, they all looked gassed after the first 5 minutes of play. The layout of the arena was different than most NBA arenas, and the players had a really hard time early getting shots to make it all of the way to the basket. The Spurs had better success after they started driving the ball to the paint before putting up shots.
- DeMar DeRozan had an amazing rebound of his missed shot while laying on his back. I really like how hard he’s playing lately.
- That Lonnie Walker IV kid is pretty good. I wonder why he doesn’t play more? DeMar had foul trouble for much of the game, which forced Pop to play him, but I think maybe he deserves more minutes on his own merit. Maybe he could take some of Forbes’ minutes.
- The Spurs scored 16 points in the second quarter. Is that bad?
- Bryn Forbes can disappear against teams with speedy guards that play defense. I hardly could tell he was playing tonight.
- Monty Williams is doing a great job of having his guys play together. They were creating tons of open shots with movement, and getting the ball to the open player. I remember when the Spurs used to do that.
- Jakob Poeltl is pretty good at blocking shots.
- Lonnie Walker came up gimpy after a non-contact injury midway through the fourth, and suddenly it seemed like the score didn’t really matter any more.
- Lonnie Walker IV banged Aron Baynes in the mouth with his elbow and the big banger was bleeding from his mouth for the rest of the game, looking extremely metal.
- The Spurs played their fourth consecutive overtime game tonight. That’s nuts.
DeMar DeRozan started off the scoring with a free throw, although both teams were cold from the field to begin the game. The Spurs began to take the ball to the basket, and jumped out to a 10-4 lead. The Suns couldn’t find the range and the Spurs extended the lead to double digits, but sloppy play let the Suns run off a 7-0 run to cut the lead to 21-17. The Spurs woke up for the final two minutes and led 28-18 after a quarter.
Ricky Rubio started the second quarter with a beautiful drive and layup, and Phoenix went on a 14-2 run to regain the lead at 32-30 halfway through the quarter. Frankly, most of the second quarter looked like the players were moving in mud as they struggled to deal with the lack of oxygen at the Mexico City altitude of about 7,500 ft (or 2.2 km). The Spurs tried to hang with the Suns, but an inopportune foul by Rudy Gay let the Suns score the final points and they led 48-44 at the half. By modern NBA standards, that’s not a good half for either team.
Dejounte Murray stole the ball to start the third to cut the lead to a pair, but Frank Kaminsky hit a pair to extend the Suns’ lead to 8. The Spurs left their defense in the US for the start of the quarter as the Suns were able to get any shot they wanted to and extended their lead to double digits effortlessly. Ricky Rubio made the Suns offense hum, but the Spurs were able to keep the score from getting out of reach by playing some defense. Late in the quarter, Lonnie was unleashed and he single-handedly cut the deficit to 4 late. The Spurs took advantage of a clutch rebound and putback by Jakob Poeltl to bring the Spurs within 2 at the break, trailing 78-80.
Marco Belinelli hit a confident midrange to tie the game up for the Silver and Black at 80. After a Rudy Gay jumper and a Dejounte steal and breakaway, the Spurs were 6-0 to start the fourth and led 84-80. A block by Poeltl leading to a Lonnie Walker layup finished off the Spurs run to give them a 6 point lead. LaMarcus Aldridge finally got a shot to fall, but Aron Baynes getting a fast break basket led to a Pop timeout with the Spurs leading by 4 halfway through the final quarter. The Spurs missed a few outside shots, and the Suns hit theirs and suddenly Phoenix led again. Lonnie Walker IV came up limping on a cut, and immediately went to the locker room. The Suns were hitting clutch shots, but Patty Mills did them one better by hitting triples and the Spurs led by 4 with 2 minutes left. A pair of techs from the Suns gave the Spurs a bit of breathing room, which they needed, as the Suns quickly tied it up on a bad Murray foul and a Baynes putback. Rudy Gay hit three freebies to give the Spurs the lead again, but the Suns weren’t done. They got offensive rebounds to cut the lead to a point, and after Aldridge hit a layup and failed on a free throw, they had 16 seconds left to tie it up. Wouldn’t you know it, Oubre hit a wide-open triple and the game was tied with 2 seconds to go. Rudy Gay got a decent look as time expired, but his shot missed. Overtime 109-109.
Dejounte Murray hit a midrange to put the Spurs ahead first in the overtime. Neither team was hitting, but a LaMarcus putback of a Murray miss gave the Spurs a 4 point lead. But Oubre’s and-1 and Ricky Rubio’s midrange regained the lead for the Suns. A three sequence followed, where a Suns steal led to a Patty Mills steal and an open triple to give the Spurs a 116-114 lead with just over a minute left. Beautiful offense let the Suns tie it up again, and Aldridge got fouled on the other end. Rubio’s stepback triple returned the lead to Phoenix, and the Spurs were forced to foul. An uncharacteristic mistake by Rubio gave the Spurs the ball back with seconds left on the clock and a 2 point deficit. DeRozan took the inbounds and drove to the basket and made a circus shot to tie the game. Unfortunately, he missed the free throw, but the Spurs got one more chance because the ball went out of bounds off a Suns player. Patty Mills got open on a terrific out of bounds play and hit a jumper to give the Spurs a 2 point lead with .3 seconds left. That’s how the game ended.
They say the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result. Well, let’s get on the Crazy Train.
For the Suns fan’s perspective, head over to Bright Side of the Sun. The Spurs return to Texas for a game on Monday night at 7:00 PM in Houston against the always litigious Rockets. The Spurs always seem to play their best games against James Harden and his crew, so it should be fun to watch.