The Spurs flexed their muscles on both ends of the floor during a 63-20 run spanning the third and fourth quarters, and defeated the Hornets in their last home game before the annual Rodeo Road Trip. DeMar DeRozan (24 points and 6 assists), Jakob Poeltl (17 points and 7 rebounds), and Derrick White (12 points and 5 rebounds) helped turn a 19-point deficit into a 24-point win over Charlotte, denying them second straight victory in San Antonio. Miles Bridges (25 points and 6 rebounds) and Cody Zeller (14 points, 12 rebounds, and 8 assists) shined impressively for the Hornets in the loss.
- The Spurs forced a turnover on Charlotte’s first offensive possession which is worth noting, as the Hornets spent the rest of the half torching San Antonio’s defense.
- LaMarcus Aldridge returned to the line-up - connecting smoothly on his first baseline jumper. Frontcourt-mate Trey Lyles impressed with a corner three and a driving jam with Aldridge’s presence buying him more room to work with. The bigs had trouble keeping Hornets bigs Cody Zeller and Willy Hernangomez off the boards through much of the first three quarters.
- Appreciation for Jakob Poeltl’s offensive decision-making: Not only did he take a pass at the top of the key down the lane for a thundering left handed jam, but he also easily corraled a Patty Mills pocket-pass for a lay-in. Poeltl later took a steal in the third AND EURO-STEPPED HIS WAY INTO A FAST BREAK LAYUP.
- It still does not feel like the Tony Parker-year in Charlotte really happened. Speaking of careers cut short, it was only a handful of years ago that Nicolas Batum played meaningful minutes for Portland. Now he seems glued to the Charlotte bench.
- In what I’m hoping is more of an aberration , the Charlotte studio analysts lauded the fact that three Hornets (PJ Washington, Miles Bridges, and Devonte’ Graham) made it to the 2020 Rising Stars, while the Spurs, despite obviously having their own young talent, are participant-less (for now) during All-Star Weekend.
- The Charlotte road uniforms - decked out with a large ‘CHA’ in font size ‘obscene’ - made me appreciate just how gorgeous the original Alonzo Mourning and Larry Johnson-era pinstriped threads were. Would a Spurs equivalent of that jersey have ‘SAS,’ ‘SAT’, or just ‘SA’ on them?
- Both teams shot well from the field and from distance in the opening period. Bridges imitated his counterpart DeMar DeRozan - leading the Hornets with nine early points from all over the court. Rudy Gay and Poeltl paced the bench with nearly half of the Spurs’ points and the team left the quarter up 30-28. The lead was quickly squandered to start the second stanza, as San Antonio committed four ghastly turnovers and the Hornets ratcheted up their intensity on both ends. Charlotte moved the Spurs defenders around with ease and netted assists on over 84% (21 of 25) of their first half makes with a sublime display of interior and perimeter passing. The Spurs could not generate a meaningful response as possession after possession devolved into selfishness. The Spurs went into the half down 63-50.
- After some easy baskets by Charlotte to start the third quarter, Pop pulled the plug on Aldridge and Bryn Forbes and put in Poeltl and Derrick White - and the Spurs held Charlotte scoreless for five minutes. DeRozan and Dejounte Murray converted in and around the paint to right the ship on a 13-0 run. The Spurs did this by notching more deflections on the passes Charlotte had unimpeded earlier in the game. In what might be the finest sequence Poeltl has played as a Spur, he hit a free throw to tie the game at 72, drew a charge at the other end, and converted a difficult layup. Despite the Spurs missing an inordinate amount of free throws, they reclaimed the lead for good and escaped the period up five.
- After the Hornets’ analysts opined “where will the offense come from this group” of bench players (Lonnie Walker IV, Mills, Marco Belinelli, Poeltl, and Murray), Mills launched three straight threes and twirled in a reverse layup over Zeller to run the Spurs lead up to double digits. In a sign of how difficult a time Charlotte had in the second half, a wide open three point shot by Terry Rozier, that would have closed the gap to ten, went around the rim twice and dribbled out meekly. San Antonio took their frustrations out on the Hornets for the remainder of the game to turn the result into a laugher.