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San Antonio vs. Indiana, Final Score: Spurs claw back but can’t finish off Pacers, 111-116

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San Antonio shows fortitude in coming back from 15 down, but succumb to Pacers’ stars.

NBA: Indiana Pacers at San Antonio Spurs
Mills’ excellent shooting night wasn’t enough to prevent Indiana from escaping with the win
Daniel Dunn-USA TODAY Sports

Indiana earned its third straight road win in San Antonio behind Malcolm Brogdon (26 points, 7 rebounds, and 6 assists) and T.J. Warren (23 points and 7 rebounds). San Antonio, unable to withstand the absence of LaMarcus Aldridge and Jakob Poeltl, was led by Trey Lyles (20 points and 6 rebounds) and Patty Mills (24 points, 6-11 3-pointers) in a loss that sent them down to 12th place in the Western Conference.

Observations

  • Drew Eubanks received his first NBA start at center and was active on defense - getting a stop on Pacers All-star Domantas Sabonis and contesting a T.J. Warren floater.
  • With Jakob Poeltl absent for up to four weeks, I think he has been either the fifth or sixth most important player (NOTE: not the most TALENTED) this season behind DeMar DeRozan, Dejounte Murray, LaMarcus Aldridge, Derrick White - in no particular order - and just ahead of Lyles and Mills.
  • DeRozan continues to be at or near the top of the list of aggressive finishers at the rim that don’t get a respectable share of foul calls.
  • Derrick White is now tied for sixth in the league in defensive charges and drew his 17th. The thing to admire is that he doesn’t do it in the floppy way (a la Derek Fisher) and the majority of them don’t feel cheaply executed.
  • Saying this with much admiration, Pacer lead guard Malcolm Brogdon looks and plays like an even less mobile, yet more efficient Andre Miller.
  • Indiana owns one of the historically great all-time uniforms, as the 90s threads designed by Florence Griffith-Joyner exuded style and class.
  • On the 20th anniversary of the Spurs’ season-saving road win over Houston to salvage the 1999 campaign, it’s easy to forget how tenuous a hold Pop had on the coaching job during a 6-8 start. Malik Rose noted “David [Robinson] usually didn’t say much beyond a prayer in the huddle when we brought it all in, but [before this game] David was saying, ‘We’ve got to get it together, we’ve got to do this, this is a big game.’ If we lost that game, they were going to fire Pop and bring in Doc (Rivers) . . . that was the rumor. I would have to say it was real because of the gravity in the locker room. I’ll never forget it.”
  • Hustle play of the night: Late in the third quarter, Lyles knocked the ball away from a Pacer, Lonnie Walker IV dove full-bore across halfcourt to recover it, and he found an open Rudy Gay from his backside for a transition dunk.
  • San Antonio surprised Indiana with a 2-3 zone, and the Spurs capitalized to the tune of ten straight points. Trey Lyles and Bryn Forbes were the main beneficiaries of increased floorspace - combining to go 6-for-7 from distance. Malcolm Brogdon, absent Victor Oladipo, took the lead role seriously, equally setting up Warren while finding his own offense. Despite shooting 70% from the field, San Antonio was beset by a handful of turnovers. A 6-0 run by Patty Mills - a four-point play off of a Lonnie Walker IV kickout and a steal and layup combo on the ensuing inbounds - extended the home team to 34-26 after one.
  • Justin Holiday, Doug McDermott, and Warren caught fire to cut into the lead. The Spurs drew Indiana into the foul bonus mere minutes into the second period but were unable to take advantage as often as they could have. A Brogdon reverse layup helped the Pacers claim the lead. Lyles’ fourth straight three briefly stemmed the onslaught of Pacers outside shooting. Yet another McDermott corner-3 extended the Indiana lead to double digits. DeRozan was held scoreless, while setting up teammates willingly, but only Lyles and Mills kept the Spurs afloat. A late Brogdon three made it 40 Pacers points for the quarter and a nine-point lead at the break.
  • At the start of the third period, DeRozan’s acrobatic 3-point play was interrupted by a technical for complaining about the paucity of fouls in his favor. San Antonio again got the Pacers into early foul trouble, but was unable to get to the line enough times to capitalize. Indiana figured out the Spurs defensive zone and scored at-will - pushing the lead to 15. The Spurs bench was able to exude effort at both ends to trim the Indiana lead to eight going into the final stanza.
  • A 8-0 run by San Antonio - on a pair of threes by Walker IV and Mills followed by a Gay layup - trimmed the margin to two briefly. San Antonio’s enthused zone defense also disrupted the Indiana’s half-court sets. An end-to-end soaring Walker IV dunk over Holiday and Brodgon briefly tied the game and ignited the home crowd. A Walker IV wing three in transition sent them into the stratosphere. The Pacers countered by repeatedly going into the post with Sabonis and Myles Turner.
  • Sabonis extended the Pacers lead with his ninth consecutive point. A clutch Mills three made it 109-110, but Brogdon answered immediately with his own fadeaway. A Sabonis offensive rebound netted Indiana an extra possession, but Mills drew a charge on Brogdon. Brogdon nearly found Sabonis for a clinching layup, but White stripped him cleanly. The Spurs were unable to generate an open look, and Lyles desperation attempt was blocked out of bounds. White and DeRozan botched the inbounds exchange, and Indiana came away with the hard-earned road win.

For the Pacers fan’s perspective, please visit Indy Cornrows.

The Spurs start a three game road trip by flying out immediately to Charlotte for a SEGABABA tomorrow evening against the Hornets at 6:00 PM CT.