San Antonio moved to 2-0 on its Rodeo Road Trip. The Spurs were felled by lazy defending in the first quarter, while Charlotte took advantage of San Antonio’s frequent misses to surge out to a 33-17 advantage. San Antonio exploded in the second like they had stumbled into a hornets’ nest with 47 points and a visibly higher effort level on both ends. Both teams went back-and-forth throughout a frenetic second half, but it was San Antonio’s talented wingmen that were able to seize an up-for-grabs contest in the final stanza.
San Antonio’s DeJounte Murray (26 points, 12 rebounds, 6 assists, and 2 steals), Derrick White (25 points, 4 assists, and 3 steals) led a now-charisteristically balanced scoring effort for the Spurs. Charlotte was paced by outstanding efforts from Terry Rozier (33 points and 7 rebounds) and LaMelo Ball (17 points, 12 rebounds, and 8 assists).
- “Roses are red / Opponents are blue / When Derrick White and Dejounte Murray / Combine to pester and pursue.” The dynamic duo led the team in scoring in the first half. Happy Valentine’s Day and Singles Awareness Day!
- San Antonio’s 9-3 road record would be tops in the Eastern Conference.
- The teal color with honeycomb shapes lining the court and filling the paint are a lovely touch.
- The nice thing about watching another Ball play in the league is seeing his father’s decreased association with the NBA compared to what we all had to endure when Lonzo started his career.
- When he takes time to set it up, DeMar DeRozan has a really nice 3-point shooting stroke.
- Ode to the Beautiful Game: While floating towards the right baseline, DeRozan found a diving Poeltl in the lane and Poeltl, as his predecessor Boris Diaw would have done, quickly got the ball out to a stampeding Johnson on the left wing for a very difficult layup.
- Sequence of the Game: White nailed his first three of the game in the left corner and deflected the ball off of Ball’s leg at the other end to force a turnover. Two-way excellence!
- Keldon’s Kitchen: Keldon claimed the Finish the Lyric (Mariah Carey’s ‘We Belong Together’) contest going away by nailing the right melody from the song’s opening lines. The man who’s possible the team’s power forward of the future again led San Antonio in rebounding in the first half. Rudy Gay did win the unofficial title for Finish the Lyric with Whitney Houston’s “Somebody to Love Me.”
- Jakob’s Closeouts: Midway through the first quarter, Charlotte’s Malik Monk found himself alone with Poeltl and immediately tried to put Jakob on skates for a stepback - yet the Austrian recovered in time to force a missed three.
- Sean Elliott noted ”Charlotte’s a little too comfortable coming out of the gate” as Terry Rozier paced them on an 11-2 spurt. White looked more comfortable on his drives and found his way to the free throw line. San Antonio left its shooting touch in Atlanta and was beaten resoundingly in transition. Rozier (16 points) nearly matched the Spurs’ output (17 points) on scorching shotmaking, and the Hornets closed out the quarter on an 13-0 run.
- Rudy Gay and Patty Mills found success from behind the arc at the start of the second with a vintage and-1 by Gay making it a five point deficit. Despite shooting comfortably over 90% from the field, the Spurs managed to nab the lead only very late in the half. Much of that had to do with Rozier’s scoring acumen and Ball’s wizardry. Lonnie Walker IV channeled his inner Manu on two impressive dimes to Poeltl and Johnson - though Johnson’s basket didn’t count. An unfazed Keldon garnered an and-1 on the next possession and his relentlessness on the boards wreaked havoc on the Charlotte frontline. Johnson’s last putback supplied San Antonio’s 64-59 cushion at the half.
- Rozier continued his All-Star team candidacy by scoring from all over to start the third. San Antonio’s cold shooting briefly haunted them as the Hornets regained the lead midway through. A Walker IV dunk off of a Johnson dish tied things at 77. A Walker IV lefty layup in traffic again tied the game at 82. Walker IV’s pull-up three eked San Antonio ahead briefly, but the teams ended a back-and-forth stanza knotted at 89.
- The final quarter started off with countless misses and sloppy execution by two tired teams. It was White and Murray that stood out above the other perimeter players. Murray set up his teammates exquisitely. White emerged from a crowded scrum with the possession briefly and guided a H-O-R-S-E banker home. White’s fourth 3-pointer and a Poeltl ‘pop-a-shot’ gave the Spurs its first double-digit lead.
- Charlotte briefly employed its ‘Hack-a-Poeltl’ strategy briefly and Poeltl converted 2-of-2. In the waning minutes, Rozier and Ball led a bothersome full-court press and converted several Spurs turnovers to cut it to six. DeRozan converted a fadeaway jumper to extend out to eight. Rozier was gifted the superstar treatment after flailing his legs on a desperation jumper and made it a six point game again. A White reverse layup and patented charge taken at the other end iced the game away.
For the Hornets fan’s perspective, visit At the Hive.
San Antonio next heads to Detroit Tuesday night for an early 6 PM CT tipoff against Blake Griffin and the Pistons.