In possibly his best game of his career, Dejounte Murray led the San Antonio Spurs in a wire to wire win against the Los Angeles Clippers; 116-92. To make the 24-point win even more impressive, the Spurs were on a back-to-back, and were playing their 3rd game in 4 nights, all on the road.
Paul George and Doug McDermott, two players who were making their return tonight (Doug missed the Kings game, PG13 was back after missing the previous 5 outings), both hit the first bucket of the night for their respective teams. The Spurs were aggressive offensively early on as they attacked the paint. Nine of their first ten field goals of the game came from floaters, push shots and layups. After which Jock Landale who had been the first big off the bench in the previous two contest provided some spacing, while knocking down two threes in his first quarter minutes. Dejounte Murray was having real success in the Pick-and-Roll partnership with the Australian rookie, this helped San Antonio to a 35-27 lead after one.
Pop and his crew couldn’t extend the lead early in the second because they were giving up a few offensive rebounds and some second chance points, something which had been a problem the last few game. Both teams were able to get hot from the outside, first it was San Antonio who hit two straight, before the Clippers countered with two of their own. This included Paul George who started to warm up after this stretch of shooting. He was looking for the ball on every possession and was taking a more shoot first approach in order to bring the Clippers back into the game. Luckily for the Spurs, they have Dejounte Murray. DJ was going toe for toe with PG at the end of the half and was actually winning that battle. Two threes (one deep one) and countless other buckets and assists to end the period for the Point-Guard meant the road team had a comfortable 62-48 lead going into the half-time break.
To start the second half, the Spurs were taking a concerted approach to get Doug McBuckets some shots, and it was paying off. From inbound plays to transition opportunities, San Antonio was looking for their sharpshooter. After PG13 had some success in the second quarter, the Spur defenders were helping out a lot stronger on the Clippers star. Then after some more stifling defense and a Keldon corner three, San Antonio had a 21-point advantage. The positive mood of the team was flowing through everyone on the court and this included, Devin Vassell. The second year wing was taking advantage of an LA team that had their heads down and was ready to go home. He was attacking whoever was on him by getting to his spots and knocking them in. With the Clippers player’s shoulders shrugged, the Spurs were ballin’ as they went into the final period up 92-65.
Paul George was doing all he can to make it somewhat competitive. He was attacking mismatches and getting to the rim for multiple foul calls, but the deficit was just too much. But if PG and the Clipper faithful didn’t know that yet, Dejounte Murray sure let them know after a fast break dunk which well and truly put the game away. The benches emptied and the Spurs went home winners; 116-92.
- Bench Spark. For so long the Spurs bench has been a staple to their success, but since Rudy and Patty left in the summer (and Manu has been long gone) the San Antonio bench has failed to find their footing. But in the last few games they have started to find a spark. This all started with the reemergence of their 6-man, Lonnie Walker IV. Lonnie has been impressive in the last string of games and with this the bench has come along. Pop’s decision to go with Jock Landale as the back-up big has proven fruitful as of now. Devin Vassell and Tre Jones are always solid and accountable, while Bryn Forbes has been shooting it well as of late. All this equals is a really solid bench crew, and if they can keep this up the Spurs starters will be thankful they don’t have to play 36+ minutes to win games.
- Rebounding & Assists season highs. 67 total rebounds, 23 offensive rebounds and 37 assists were all season highs for the Spurs. The Clippers were just out-hustled and out-matched against a team that came to win. They did it as a team, they gang rebounded and shared the ball on offense. As Pop said after the game, “We can’t be an ISO team, We’ve got to play together”.
- Finding Consistency. The last 7 games for the Silver & Black have looked like this; Win, Loss, Win, Loss, Win, Loss, Win. That’s way too inconsistent and never going to get you where you want to go. The Spurs have gone on one winning streak this whole season, which was the four game streak a few weeks back. If the Spurs want to inch closer to 0.500 and a top eight seed, then they will have to pull out more winning streaks to do so.
Play of the Game
The growth Dejounte has gone through as a playmaker since he was drafted has been simply extraordinary. Nearly 10 assists a night, and they aren’t easy ones either.
Spurs Valuable Player (SVP)
3rd place (1 point): Derrick White | 30 mins, 15 points, 4 assists, 4 rebounds, 1 steal
Yes, he had four turnovers and missed all six of his threes, but Derrick gets third place because of his defense on Paul George. He was tasked by Pop to defend the Clippers star, and he did an admirable job at it. Whenever White wasn’t on the floor it seemed like PG would go off for a few buckets and build some momentum for the home team. But PG13 was only 8/18 and 3/9 on threes with 4 turnovers and that was a large part thanks to Derrick White.
2nd place (2 points): Jakob Poeltl | 30 mins, 17 points, 11 rebounds, 5 assists, 3 stls, 2 blks
The all round game of Jakob Poeltl is such a huge difference than just the defensive juggernaut he was in previous seasons. The way he can contribute on offense with offensive boards (leads the league, btw), put-backs, floaters and playmaking from the top of the key makes him such a versatile player and helps the Spurs have a more dynamic offense whenever he is on the floor.
1st place (3 points): Dejounte Murray | 31 mins, 24 points, 13 assists, 12 rebounds, 4 steals
This was my reaction after the game.
From start to finish, we just watched Dejounte Murray’ best game of his career— Zach (@zachcolwellPtR) December 21, 2021
24 points, 13 assists, 12 rebounds, 4 steals, 10/22 from the field, 4/6 from three.
MIP. All-Star. All-Defensive. You name it.
Dejounte Murray may have just put in his best performance in his NBA career against the Clippers. DJ has had other great games, more scoring, more assists, more rebounds, but this was a full four quarter display. Never let up on either end of the floor. He has it all this guy. The four threes in six attempts is staggering for a player that was touted as a non-shooter for so long. And yes, he isn’t going to hit 4/6 every game but you just have to look at the numbers to see the improvement in his shooting year to year. After the game Dejounte said this, have a listen:
"I am built for the challenge, I am accepting the challenge, and I am pretty sure I will get there."@DejounteMurray talks about his 6th triple-double of the season, and the @spurs win over the Clippers after the game. #PorVida pic.twitter.com/o0McTMquLe— Bally Sports San Antonio (@BallySportsSA) December 21, 2021
1st - Dejounte Murray - 49pts
2nd - Derrick White - 28pts
3rd - Devin Vassell - 21pts
4th - Keldon Johnson - 20pts
5th - Jakob Poeltl - 19pts
6th - Lonnie Walker IV - 12pts
7th - Thaddeus Young & Bryn Forbes - 9pts
8th - Doug McDermott - 7pts
9th - Drew Eubanks - 2pts
10th - Jock Landale, Josh Primo, Keita Bates-Diop & Tre Jones - 1pt
Next Game: @ Lakers on Thursday
The Spurs get a two-day rest in LA before facing the Los Angeles Lakers. San Antonio have already met the Lakers twice this season, with LA narrowly taking both games. This will be another opportunity for the Silver & Black to start their second win streak of the year.