The San Antonio Spurs suffered their first loss of the preseason in the home of the Detroit Pistons, losing 115-105. After a horrific first quarter, the Spurs came charging back in the second to briefly take the lead before getting blown out in the second half while playing some makeshift lineups that likely won’t be seen outside of garbage time in the regular season.
Bryn Forbes led three Spurs in double-digits with 20 points off the bench, while Jerami Grant scored 19 points to lead five Pistons is double figures.
- Lonnie Walker got the start in place of late scratch Dejounte Murray, and he was immediately aggressive on offense, hitting a pullup three on the Spurs first offensive possession and driving and faking Isaiah Stewart into the air for the easy shake-and-bake layup on the second. Overall, his seven points in the first quarter was the lone offensive bright spot as the Pistons got hot against the Spurs second unit and closed the first on 25-8 run to build a 39-22 lead.
- The Spurs spent much of the first quarter showing why this team will struggle at times when transition shots are taken away. Other than Walker’s three, another from Bryn Forbes, and a couple of free throws, their remaining 14 points all came in the paint via mostly forced drives to the basket. Otherwise there was very little ball movement, with players taking turns running their own iso plays and missing in the midrange. Without a go-to scorer, they’re going to have to keep moving the ball and create open looks, because they don’t have anyone who can thrive on nights when they aren’t scorching hot.
- Bryn Forbes, remember him? He showed how, when used in the proper role, he is a valuable commodity. He hit his first 4 threes coming off the bench when the Spurs desperately needed something to fall, helping them open the second quarter on an 11-2 run and get back in the game. The Spurs remained hot from there and eventually retook the lead at 47-46 with five minutes left in the second quarter before finishing down 54-51. That’s what the Spurs need from him, and he doesn’t have to start to provide it.
- In a reverse from the first quarter, the Spurs spent much of the second showing what they can do when they stay disciplined on defense, push the pace in transition, and keep moving in the halfcourt until a good shot can be found. Another place they thrived was on the offensive glass, where they got 12 second-chance points off 11 offensive rebounds. Meanwhile Detroit only had 2 points off 2 rebounds, so securing the boards is another area the team seems to have improved on from last season.
- Thaddeus Young and Al-Farouq Aminu both got some run with the bench unit in this game (oddly, ahead of Luka Samanic). Young provided 5 points and was a big part of the Spurs keeping the Pistons off the glass in the first half with 8 rebounds, but he also proved to be an awkward fit with Poeltl for offensive spacing purposes and Eubanks on defense. Aminu provided five points late in the third quarter, but that was about it.
- Someone must have informed Pistons announcer George Blaha how to pronounce Devin Vassell’s name correctly during halftime. In the first half, he was pronouncing it “Vaslte” (like castle), and first chance he got in the second he specifically noted the correction, saying “It’s Vassell, not Vastle”.
- Forbes and Vassell started the second half in the places of Walker and Keldon Johnson, who both then came off the bench. This was probably just some experimenting on Gregg Popovich’s part, or it’s possible he was going with the hot hands of the first half to start the second. Johnson in particular had a rough first half, with just 6 points on 3-13 shots, mostly forced and not taken within the flow of the offense. He had a better second half as the only Spur who had anything going on offense, hitting all five of his shots for 18 total points as it turned into a blowout loss.
- Former Spurs Cory Joseph and Trey Lyles torched the Spurs’ hodgepodge bench unit, combing for 23 points mostly in the third quarter as the Pistons pulled away.
- Samanic finally entered in the fourth quarter and showed off some nifty touch in the paint with 6 points in garbage time, but other than that there was nothing notable from any of the Spurs remaining third stringers. Josh Primo, Joe Wieskamp and Jock Landale each played in the fourth quarter but didn’t do much with it.
- This game followed a similar trend to a lot of the Spurs losses last season: slow start, followed by getting back into the game with a big run (in this case the second quarter), followed by bad play the rest of the way. Per usual, only one good quarter out of four is not a recipe for success, and it’s a habit they’ll have to break.
- Derrick White has shot just 5-21 over his first two preseason games, but it’s obviously not time to panic. It is especially worth noting that he is a player who tends to require a few games to get going, especially on offense, and considering he hasn’t played since April, it’s understandable that he’d be rusty. As long as he stays healthy, he’ll be back to himself in short order.
For the Pistons fans’ perspective, visit Detroit Bad Boys.
The Spurs return to San Antonio on Friday to take on the Miami Heat in their third of five preseason games. Tip-off will be at 7:30 PM CT and should be available on League Pass (via the Heat’s broadcast) and streaming on the Spurs App for local fans.