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Resilient Spurs can’t complete comeback against Suns

San Antonio unable to win their 5th straight as Phoenix edges out the victory; 108-104

NBA: San Antonio Spurs at Phoenix Suns Rick Scuteri-USA TODAY Sports

With San Antonio on the verge of a 5 game win streak, the Phoenix Suns spoil the party as the San Antonio Spurs fall after a valiant 4th quarter comeback. The Suns who just broke their franchise record win streak last week, by winning 18 straight before losing to the Warriors, were the ones to break a team’s streak tonight, as Chris Paul put his team on his back late, to win out against the Spurs.

Devin Booker who got injured during the Suns win streak was still missing for the home team, while the Spurs were also still without second year swingman, Devin Vassell.

The Spurs started the game strong, as after missing their first shot, made 7 straight, with the scoring being shared throughout the starters. 4 of the 5 had a bucket early and were looking as confidence as they had in the previous few wins. Phoenix were going to their big man Ayton early on, with CP3 running the pick-and-roll with the Arizona Wildcat. Dejounte Murray and Thad Young were running a very effective two-man game when Thad entered the contest. The two-man game created looks for each other and the other Spurs on the perimeter who were ready to shoot the ball out of the PnR action. This included back to back threes by Bryn Forbes and Lonnie Walker IV. Phoenix countered by bringing in JaVale McGee and using his size and athleticism to cause Thad Young and the Spurs problems down low, it worked, as McGee had 8 straight points. The Spurs, however, still had a 7-point lead after 1; 33-26.

After allowing 33 points in the first quarter, Phoenix Suns head coach, Monty Williams must have had some choice words for his guys as they started the second much more engaged on that end of the floor. The Spurs were struggling to score from the outside and the Suns weren’t letting them get to the paint. This allowed the home team to go on a run and close to 1-point game. The Spurs came right back at them with a 5-0 run, which included a Josh Primo three, as the rookie got some meaningful minutes. Both teams started to push the pace, but instead of causing easy buckets it was just producing turnovers for each outfit. So it only made sense that the player with the most experience on the court would be the one to get their team out of the funk, as CP3 hit 3 straight jumpers to help put the Suns in front at the half; 51-48.

The Spurs started the second half the same way they ended the first, unable to score. The Suns on the other hand were hitting shots, especially Jae Crowder who started to heat up from the outside. Luckily, for the Spurs, the Suns started to let up on offense after that, but the Spurs still couldn’t score. So Pop went deep into his bench to get some offense as Tre Jones and Bryn Forbes got back to back buckets to cut the lead to a dozen. This ignited a late quarter surge by San Antonio as they ended the interval on the front foot, but were still down; 79-70.

The Spurs used this momentum to start the 4th hot, as an early 7-0 run which was fueled by defense closed the deficit. Later in the quarter, Doug McDermott who was brought to San Antonio for his shooting, hit a big three to bring the Spurs level. Both teams traded buckets as the game got tense, it was a 3-point ballgame with 3 minutes to play. This is when the veteran great of Chris Paul made his biggest impact. First it was on defense, as Dejounte Murray got a huge steal and was running down for an easy two to cut the lead to 1, but CP3 had other ideas. Paul stuck with Dejounte and as Murray was making his move to the rim, Paul swiped at the right moment to force the ball out of Murray’s hands. To make matters worse, the ball went off DJ for a Suns inbound. The very next possession the Suns hit a corner three and the margin was 6. Chris Paul then closed the game on offense, as the Spurs couldn’t muster a miracle, they lose; 108-104.

Game Notes

  • Inconsistent Offense. The Spurs came out hot in this one, scoring 33 in the 1st and hitting 5 threes. But like too often this year they couldn’t sustain that for the rest of the game. The very next quarter they scored 15 points and only hit one shot from the outside. They also went on a run where they missed 12 straight shots from the end of the second to the start of the third. Give credit to the Suns who tightened up their defense after the first and made it tough on the Spurs guards, but San Antonio needs to find a way to sustain offense, especially against good teams who will be able to score at will.
  • Resiliency. During this season, the one thing you can say about the 2021/2022 San Antonio Spurs squad is that they do not quit. The same was said in this one. The Suns had a 16-point lead late in the third, Pop had his bench squad in and it looked like the starters were done playing in this one, especially with a back to back against the Knicks. But the Spurs bench were resilient against the Suns starters as they made a run to get back into this game. This allowed Pop to bring in his starting 5, and they continued the effort as they got back in this one and made it a game late on.
  • 4-game win streak. Yes, the streak is over, but with a young and rebuilding team like this one, it’s easy to dismiss win streaks like these. Those 4 games were important for the Spurs, especially the young guys, as this gave them the belief they can win consistently in this league, and against good teams as well. The Spurs will look to start another win streak against the Knicks on the second half of this back to back.

Play of the Game

Bryn ‘Ankle Breaker’ Forbes

Spurs Valuable Player (SVP)

3rd place (1 point): Josh Primo | 18 minutes, 5 points, 2 rebounds, 3 steals, 4 blocks

Josh Primo gets his first SVP points of the season! And he rightful deserved it with his play in this game. Primo played a career high 18 minutes and was productive throughout. He may have only scored 5 points, but he was active on both ends and helped fuel the Spurs comeback at the end of the third. 4 blocks and 3 steals for a guard is tremendous and shows his two-way potential. More minutes, please.

2nd place (2 points): Jakob Poeltl | 32 minutes, 14 points, 11 rebounds, 2 assists, 1 block

Jakob is back to his best and in this one against Ayton and the Suns he was crucial for any Spurs success. When he was on the bench, Thad Young and Drew Eubanks were just too small to guard Ayton and McGee and therefore the Spurs were outplayed. Ayton (14 points & 5 turnovers) had a relatively quiet game, thanks to Jakob. He also contributed 14 points on offense.

1st place (3 points): Dejounte Murray | 34 minutes, 17 points, 14 assists, 6 rebounds, 2 stls

Dejounte was really efficient in his minutes against Phoenix, with the only knock on DJ being that he probably wasn’t aggressive enough (only 12 shots). This had to do with him being guarded by Mikal Bridges who is making a name for himself on that end of the floor, but DJ did well enough to score when he needed to, but never forced his shot. Instead tried to get others involved and did so to a tune of 14 assists. 7th double-double game in a row for the Spurs point guard.

Overall Leaderboard

1st - Dejounte Murray - 41pts

2nd - Devin Vassell - 20pts

3rd - Derrick White - 16pts

4th - Keldon Johnson - 15pts

5th - Jakob Poeltl - 14pts

6th - Thaddeus Young - 9pts

7th - Doug McDermott & Bryn Forbes - 5pts each

8th - Lonnie Walker IV - 3pts

9th - Drew Eubanks - 2pts

10th - Jock Landale & Josh Primo - 1pt each

Next Game: Vs Knicks on Tuesday

The Spurs get to go back home after a 2-1 west coast road trip, but unfortunately no time to rest, as the New York Knicks come to town on the second night of a back to back for the Spurs.