The San Antonio Spurs did what they haven’t been able to do so far, finish close games. Up 5 with 3 minutes to play and the Bucks starting to gain the momentum, Dejounte Murray went 4/4 from the field, 1/1 from three and 3/4 from the line for 12 points to close the game and capture the Spurs second win of the season.
One week ago, the Spurs hosted the Milwaukee Bucks at the AT&T Center in a very similar back and forth game, only that time they couldn’t close the deal and eventually succumbed to the Bucks stars. Tonight they kept Giannis and Middleton in check late, while facilitating enough offense to pull out the victory.
The Bucks were without starters Jrue Holiday and Brook Lopez, while the Spurs were still missing starting forward, Doug McDermott.
Spurs - Dejounte Murray, Derrick White, Lonnie Walker IV, Keldon Johnson & Jakob Poeltl
Bucks - George Hill, Grayson Allen, Khris Middleton, Thanasis Antetokounmpo, Giannis Antetokounmpo
The Spurs had started the previous 5 games strong and today was no different, even drawing a shooting foul on their first possession. Lonnie who started his second game of the season, was the one who drew the foul but his aggressive start didn’t stop there. A few minutes later he pulled up for a transition three that swished in. The Bucks started the game in a 2-3 zone and forced the Spurs to take threes. Derrick White obliged, as he went sizzling hot from the outside, hitting three 3’s in the first quarter alone. On the other end of the floor the Spurs were struggling to stop the Bucks on the boards as Giannis & Co gobbled up a ton of second chance opportunities. Then just like the end of the 1st quarter in the Dallas game, the Spurs offense stalled and couldn’t make a bucket in the half-court for the life of them. Luckily the Spurs were able to get out in transition twice to end the quarter and make the Bucks pay by finishing both chances to put themselves up 3 at the first interval.
The Spurs started the second quarter active on defense, creating deflections and steals. And when the Spurs weren’t creating turnovers the Bucks couldn’t hit a shot. Grayson Allen in particular, as he missed three straight 3’s. The Spurs couldn’t turn this into a run of their own as they gave Milwaukee life with poor offense and turnovers which the Bucks turned into easy points. The game got a bit chaotic with both team’s bench units in the game, this caused a bunch of turnovers, missed shots and fouls. With Jakob Poeltl in foul trouble, Pop turned to his newest veteran on the roster, Thaddeus Young. Young was able to bring a settling hand to the game, making a few buckets, facilitating offense and playing solid defense. This helped San Antonio go into the half only down 2; 47-45.
To start the half, the Spurs found their best half-court offense was running hard with speed off handoffs and attacking the rim. The Bucks though wouldn’t relent, as their veterans started to take over the game, even stretching the lead to 6 at one point. The Spurs who couldn’t miss a three in the first quarter, couldn’t hit one in the third. As their offense started to dry up, their defense kept them in the game. Once again, Thad Young provided a spark, helping the Spurs get points in the paint as he understood the outside shots just weren’t falling.
Thanks to Thad Young, the Spurs were up 69-67 to start the 4th. They started the final quarter fast, playing well on both ends of the floor. They were going from defense to offense and keeping control of the game. Spurs were able to trade buckets with the Bucks and found themselves still up 5 with 3 to play. After a Giannis And-1 and the crowd on their feet, roaring the home team to victory, Dejounte Murray hit a mid-range bank shot that would make Tim Duncan proud. Dejounte didn’t stop there, next time down the floor he hit another mid-range jumper to extend the Spurs lead. Keldon Johnson after missing his first 4 threes of the night, and only making 1 on the season, decided he would make his second three at a very pivotal time. Then with the Spurs up 7 and only 90 seconds on the clock, Dejounte Murray sealed the deal with a three pointer over the reigning NBA Finals MVP, Giannis Antetokounmpo. The Bucks tried to play the free throw game, but the Spurs were up for the challenge and made all but one of theirs, as they finished winners; 102-93.
- Thad Young. When the Spurs got the veteran as part of the DeMar DeRozan sign-and-trade, he was expected to play a large role up until he would inevitably get traded. But after a poor preseason, the former Bull didn’t find himself in the rotation. And then after playing only a handful of minutes in the opening games, Pop turned to him tonight with Jakob in foul trouble. Tonight we saw the player we all thought we were going to get. He played hard on both ends of the floor, provided offense with his scoring and passing and got key steals and defensive stops when needed. It will be curious to track if this performance gets him in the rotation going forward.
- Defense. Defense. Defense. To keep the reigning NBA Champs to just 93 points is incredibly encouraging. Especially for a young team. Kept Milwaukee to 40 percent from the field, only 25 percent from three and forced them into 19 turnovers. The defense is going to win the Spurs games this year, that’s for sure.
- Closer: Dejounte. Finally, the Spurs were able to execute late, and it all was thanks to their point guard play. DJ was in full control in those final 4 minutes, getting to his spots and knocking down the shots. Pop said at the start of training camp the Spurs didn’t have a closer, but looking at tonight, I think Murray had a different opinion.
Play of the Game
The epitome of what this Spurs team is all about.
Synergy Stat of the Night
Dejounte Murray - 10 fourth quarter possessions.
Through the first 3 quarters of the game Dejounte had a total of 11 possessions where he made the play. In the fourth alone he had 10. DJ knew it was his time to step up and take this team to victory and he certainly did so. Wanting the ball in those clutch moments, and then being able to execute is a skill only so many players have, and Dejounte Murray, has that.
Spurs Valuable Player (SVP)
3rd place (1 point): Bryn Forbes - 25 minutes, 16 points, 7 field goals
Bryn Forbes got his ring tonight in Milwaukee and he backed that up with a really solid display of shooting. He made shots from all three levels and kept the Spurs afloat when they couldn’t buy a bucket. Back to back double figure games from the shooting guard, and it seems as if he’s starting to find his form after a slow start to the season.
2nd place (2 points): Thaddeus Young - 16 minutes, 10 points, 8 rebounds, 3 assists, 2 steals
He didn’t play a ton of minutes, but more than he has all year. Thad changed the game twice in this one. In the 2nd and 3rd when the Spurs were struggling he came in and did what a veteran should for a young team, calmed them down and found a way to keep the scoring ticking over. Best game of his Spurs career by far, let’s hope it continues if he gets minutes going forward.
1st place (3 points): Dejounte Murray - 37 minutes, 23 points, 9 assists, 5 rebounds, 3 steals
12 points in the final 4 minutes gets Dejounte the 1st place tonight. The Spurs needed a closer and tonight they found theirs. He filled out the box score once again, but most importantly he had a bunch of them when it mattered most.
1st - Dejounte Murray - 9pts
2nd - Jakob Poeltl - 8pts
3rd - Keldon Johnson - 5pts
4th - Devin Vassell - 4pts
5th - Derrick White & Doug McDermott - 3pts each
7th - Thaddeus Young - 2 pts
8th - Lonnie Walker IV & Bryn Forbes - 1pt each
Next Game: @ Indiana on Monday
The Spurs end their 3 games road trip with a matchup against the struggling Indiana Pacers. The Pacers have lost 4 in a row and the Spurs will hope to make it 5 when they visit Monday.