To win games, you need talent, a lot a heart, a good strategy, and sometimes just a little luck. The Spurs lost the lead in the fourth quarter and regained the lead in the last minute as Bryn Forbes hit a pair of clutch shots, but they almost gave it away as they couldn’t hold onto the ball and gave the Magic a golden opportunity to take the win with an Evan Fournier breakaway. But the layup bounced harmlessly off the backboard, and the Spurs escaped with a thrilling one point win. It wasn’t the prettiest effort, as the Silver and Black turned over the ball more than they should have in two normal games, and made enough dumb mistakes to lose three or four games, but the win still counts, as they kept pace a few games behind the Memphis Grizzlies who defeated the Lakers tonight.
- It’s a weird feeling to be feeling like the Spurs are out of the playoff race, but if they somehow turn in an impressive performance tonight, I might be fooled into having a sliver of hope again.
- It’s good to see Fultz in the starting lineup. Despite coming in as a first overall pick, he took a while to figure it out, and I’m happy to see him get it together. Just maybe not too much tonight.
- Jakob Poeltl banged knees with a Magic player halfway through the first quarter and headed to the locker room. Hopefully, it’s not something that will keep him out for a long time. Because of the shortage of bigs, Drew Eubanks got an early call as the backup center and played well, including in some weird lineups with him and Lyles as the two bigs.
- Trey Lyles has untapped potential on the offensive end. I can’t wait to see what he will do next year after a full year in the Spurs system.
- Dejounte Murray has a tatoo on the back of his hand that looks like a club stamp that got smudged. Or maybe it’s actually a club stamp.
- Rudy Gay has looked like he has lost a step all year, but somehow tonight, he found that step and was using it. In the third quarter, he lost some aggressiveness, and lost the ball instead of taking open shots.
- Did they serve popcorn in the Orlando locker room at halftime? The Magic couldn’t hold on the ball at the start of the second half.
- I don’t get video challenge. Why do you review a call just to get it more wrong? I think it should be abolished.
Dejounte Murray started off the scoring with an open three-point shot that hit nothing but net. The Spurs hit their first three triples as they rushed out to a 9-2 lead, extending it to 13-4 before a Steve Clifford timeout. The Magic fought back and cut the lead to 5, but the Spurs bench and Trey Lyles went on a scoring tear and led by as much as 16 on their way to a 38-27 lead after a quarter.
The power lineup of Drew Eubanks and Trey Lyles held their own against Mo Bamba early in the second, but Terence Ross heated up as the Magic surged, going on an 11-0 streak as they cut the lead to a single point at 45-44. A Rudy Gay triple was the only scoring for a while as the Spurs led 48-44 for a while while both teams struggled to hold onto the ball. The Spurs went back to playing with fundamentals and led by as much as 13, but the Magic scored the final 6 points of the quarter, as the halftime buzzer sounded with the Spurs up 61-53.
Drew Eubanks took and hit his first three point shot in the NBA as the Spurs once again led by double digits early in the third. Aaron Gordon, who had been under control most of the first half, got involved as he got to the line, and then took advantage of a Spurs turnover to get a pretty reverse dunk, cutting the lead to six. But Aaron got a little salty, and lost his composure a little, leading to a technical foul that hurt his team. The Spurs held the lead near 10 for most of the quarter but a 6-0 run by the Magic had the Spurs leading 85-81 after three quarters.
The Magic cut the lead to two on a drive to the basket by James Ennis III, and eventually had a chance to take the lead after an odd foul on Marco Belinelli. They finally took the lead with a layup by Michael Carter-Williams, and the old bugaboo of the Spurs not being to hold onto a lead began to raise it’s ugly head. After dominating for much of the game, but not putting the Magic away, they let them back into the game, and the game started to have a familiar feeling as the Magic lead swelled to six. But something different happened tonight. The Spurs went on a 7-0 run to regain the lead. The teams swapped the lead back and forth but a questionable non-call on a DeRozan drive to the basket had him throwing his hands in the air as the Magic ran back 5 on 4 and scored a Terence Ross triple to go up 109-105 with 3 minutes left. The Spurs gave the ball back to DeMar and he got fouled. Or did he? Somehow, the call was reversed, and DeMar was robbed of a pair of free throws. The Spurs fought back somehow, with Bryn Forbes hitting a pair of clutch shots to put the Silver and Black up by 3 with just 50 ticks left on the clock. Markelle Fultz cut the lead to one, but a timely offensive rebound by Rudy Gay left the Magic with no choice but to foul. The Spurs needed two timeouts to inbound the ball, and the Magic pressure forced a turnover and got a great look from Evan Fournier that should have won it for them, but the shot bounced harmlessly off the backboard, into Derrick White’s hands, and into the backcourt as time ran out and the Spurs escaped with a win.
Maybe counting on this team to make the playoffs every year is putting too much pressure on them.
For the Magic fan’s perspective, please visit Orlando Pinstriped Post.
The Spurs play Monday night at 7:30 in the AT&T Center against the Pacers on the first night of a back-to-back. It will be a tough contest against one of the best teams in the Eastern Conference, but the Spurs have played some great games against good teams, so it’s going to be interesting to see if they can keep improving. Let’s watch.