San Antonio continued their tumble down the Western Conference standings after succumbing to Cleveland in overtime for the second time this season. In an all too familiar fashion, the Silver and Black fell behind by double digits early, clawed back to take the lead, and ultimately fell short of victory as their tank ran dry down the stretch.
Despite further solidifying their lottery status against the last place Cavaliers, the good guys’ young building blocks gave Spurs fans a glimpse into the future of the franchise. A backcourt rotation of Derrick White, Dejounte Murray, and Keldon Johnson were on full display on Sunday night, and the triumvirate of baby-faced guards hounded opposing ballhandlers.
Murray bounced back from a pitiful performance in Brooklyn and stuffed the stat sheet tallying 17 points, 7 rebounds, 6 assists, 6 steals, and a block to boot. The 23-year-old point guard was a massive headache for Collin Sexton, and his career-high 6 steals were integral to San Antonio’s comeback bid.
White extended his recent offensive resurgence with 17 points on 4-of-7 shooting in just under 25 minutes of action. While the third-year combo guard has battled with confidence and inconsistent opportunities in 2019-2020, his 13.0 points per game on 51-40-96 shooting splits over his last 5 appearances are an encouraging sign of late-season growth.
Derrick White is such an intelligent basketball player with an array of crafty scoring moves.— Noah Magaro-George (@N_Magaro) March 9, 2020
The third-year guard got to the rim with a nifty use of change of speed and hesitations.
He finished the night with 17 points on 4-of-7 shooting and got to the free throw line 9 times. pic.twitter.com/GfUYgOkfz4
Johnson has been a pleasant surprise for the Silver and Black since being recalled from the G-Leauge twice towards the end of February. Though the rookie swingman saw few minutes in the first four outings of his career, he has posted averages of 8.8 points, 3.0 rebounds, 1.3 assists, and a 1.0 steal on 56.5% from the field in his last four contests.
Keldon Johnson had another solid evening filling in for the injured Lonnie Walker IV.— Noah Magaro-George (@N_Magaro) March 9, 2020
The rookie wing posted 6 points, 4 rebounds, 1 assist and 2 steals in just over 17 minutes.
He has showcased his relentless motor, defensive instincts and a knack for finishing at the rim. pic.twitter.com/KaqjJp4bAC
As I mentioned above, the 29th overall pick of the 2019 NBA Draft hasn’t spent much time with the big league club, but that could change as the Spurs’ postseason hopes dwindle. Luka Samanic, Chimezie Metu, Quinndary Weatherspoon, and Drew Eubanks are in the same boat, and I expect to see more of this collection of young talent as Gregg Popovich evaluates San Antonio’s assets.