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San Antonio at Orlando, Final Score: Spurs dampen the Magic 102-89

The Spurs outlasted the Magic in a defensive struggle

San Antonio Spurs v Orlando Magic Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images

The Spurs didn’t play a perfect game against the Magic tonight, in fact it was pretty ugly at times, but they outworked Orlando and overcame adversity as they outlasted the Magic 102-89 in a defensive affair. Thaddeus Young shone as the backup center, holding together the defense with his solid play in the paint and solid passing throughout the game. Devin Vassell’s scoring kept the Spurs from sagging in the third quarter as the Magic tried to cut into the lead out of the locker room. Keldon Johnson had one of his best games of the year as he responded to physical defense from Mo Bamba with more physicality of his own, blunting a late surge from Cole Anthony and the Magic.

Observations

  • I kind of hate these early games. It feels way too early in the day to watch a basketball game.
  • Mo Bamba is so much better than he was when he first came out of Texas. He plays with a lot of energy now and has great defensive movement, making it really hard to get off shots in the paint against his length. He used to stand back and reach when he first came into the league, and he was finally coached into playing with better technique, and now he’s an elite defender. And he can shoot, too.
  • Thad Young has taken over the backup center spot with Poeltl out, and I have to say he’s been very good, especially on defense. His hands are very quick, and he’s also a very solid passer. I really want to see more Jock Landale, but if he takes anyone’s minutes, it should be probably from Eubanks.
  • I’m impressed with Tre Jones and his ability to run the offense. He’s really the only true point guard on the team. Dejounte is definitely the leader of the offense, but he’s not a traditional PG.
  • Bally Sports does a great job with the little flavor pieces with the players that they show during timeouts, I just wish I didn’t have as many problems with the video blacking out and freezing up during game play.
  • I’m a little tired of Pop never using his coach’s challenge. There were lots of terrible calls tonight, and the worst outcome would just be losing a timeout. The Magic challenged a charging call late in the game and it could have made a big difference in the game, as Thad’s heel was just inside the restricted zone, resulting in a 5 point turnaround. Had the game been closer, and the Magic offense not as bad, it could have turned the outcome of the game.

Game Flow

The Spurs started out the scoring with a nice drive and dish from Keldon Johnson to Drew Eubanks, but both teams were inept on offense early, with only 19 points total points scored halfway through the first. Mo Bamba went to the bench, and the Spurs went on a run for much of the rest of the quarter, and led 30-20 at the end of the first 12.

The Bamba effect was on full display as the second quarter as the Spurs got right to the basket and had to pass it out as the the long-armed Mo kept guard at the rim. Bamba went to the bench, but the Spurs were already cooled off and couldn’t extend their lead. Still, they outscored the Magic in the quarter, leading 49-36 at the half.

The Magic opened the third on a quick 7-3 run, leading to a quick timeout from Coach Pop. Both teams played like their legs were in thigh-deep mud for most of the third quarter, and even though the Spurs were not great on offense, the Magic were too inept to take advantage and cut into the lead much, and the Spurs led 72-62 after 3 quarters, thanks to Devin Vassell’s offense carrying the team through an extended offensive drought.

The refs were letting them play to start the fourth, and the physical play was mucking up the Spurs offense, until Keldon Johnson got mad and turned it around on the Magic, taking away the ball and going to the rim for a flush to restore the 12 point lead at 85-73. But turnovers and defensive miscues and a hot-shooting Cole Anthony gave the Magic a shot to cut into the lead. The Spurs relied on their defensive energy as they held on and won despite some shaky offensive execution to end the game

PRIMO WATCH: Primo is not with the team tonight, having been assigned to the Austin Spurs earlier this week. But I hear he’s having a great game tonight with the Austin Spurs against the RGV Vipers.


What’s Next . . .

The Spurs record is now 3-6, and fully 2/3rds of their wins this year are against the Orlando Magic. Unfortunately, there are other teams on the schedule, and the next one up is Oklahoma City on Sunday at 6:00 pm. The Thunder are a young squad, and it should be a pretty even contest on paper. Let’s watch and find out.