With the Grizzlies losing to the Pelicans earlier in the day, the San Antonio Spurs had an opportunity to move just one game back of the eighth seed in the Western Conference. Unfortunately, the good guys came up just short of another victory, but it sure wasn’t due to a lack of effort.
The game was tightly contested for much of the first half, as the 76ers’ biggest lead was eight and the Spurs led by five a couple of times. But San Antonio came out flat in the third as Philadelphia outscored them by 10 and went into the final frame up by a dozen points.
The Spurs refused to give up and fought right until the final buzzer sounded. DeMar DeRozan came up clutch and scored 13 of his 30 points in the fourth. The Spurs even led by four at one point, but a Shake Milton three with less than 10 seconds to go gave the good guys their first loss in Orlando.
Unlike the previous two games, the veterans were aggressive right off the tip as the young guns struggled for much of the first half. DeRozan and Rudy Gay combined for 22 in the first quarter alone and the latter finished with a season high 24 points.
DeRozan, who’s almost as allergic to taking threes as Ben Simmons, even made a shot from beyond the arc. You know DeMar is feeling it when he instinctively shoots without putting his foot over the three point line.
Although Lonnie Walker IV had a relatively quiet night, Spurs games would be remiss without the young forward showing off his enviable hops while jamming at every opportunity.
Meanwhile, Keldon Johnson dropped a career high 15 points off the bench and continued to put his tantalizing potential on display. The rookie even managed to give Walker a run for his money by going up for this nasty slam.
Derrick White’s clutch fourth quarter included two pivotal threes as he helped the good guys rally back from a 12 point deficit.
DeRozan put the team on his back and nearly kept San Antonio undefeated in Orlando. The forward made big plays on both ends of the court and even helped foul out Simmons.
It’s a bit deflating that the good guys weren’t able to complete the comeback, but San Antonio still has a chance to compete in a play-in tournament, which is something that seemed practically impossible less than a week ago.