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Spurs fall to Thunder buzzer-beater

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In San Antonio’s first game in 10 days they have their hearts ripped out as they lose to a buzzer beating 3 after a costly turnover the previous possession

NBA: San Antonio Spurs at Oklahoma City Thunder Alonzo Adams-USA TODAY Sports

Ten days ago the San Antonio Spurs cruised to victory against the Charlotte Hornets, all was looking good, the Spurs were on a win streak, top 6 seed in the West and for the first time this season had all their players available — besides LaMarcus Aldridge. But over the last week and a half they skipped four games due to Covid hitting the Spurs with four players reported to have contracted the virus; two starters and two key bench players.

Going into tonight’s game the Spurs were without, Keldon Johnson, Derrick White, Rudy Gay, Devin Vassell and SHOULD HAVE BEEN ALL STAR DeMar DeRozan who was out for very understandable personal reasons. This game was always going to be tough for San Antonio, but when you have the ball in a tied game with less than 10 seconds to play, it going to hurt when you end up losing, underdog or not.

Shai passed it into Al Horford who turned and drove to the bucket on a gambling Jakob Poetl before kicking it out to an open Lu Dort for the game winning buzzer beating 3. Now to discover how the game arrived at such heartbreak.

The Spurs started Dejounte Murray, Lonnie Walker, Luka Samanuc (yes, LUKA SAMANIC), Trey Lyles and Jakob Poetl. The first start of the season for Luka was a surprise but not as much as the fact that Pop decided to bring a healthy and available LaMarcus Aldridge off the bench. This was LA’s first time to not start an NBA game since 2007, a full 14 years ago.

The first quarter was how it usually is for the Spurs; SLOW. Dejounte tried his best to start the Spurs as he scored 8 of their first 10 points, but then he picked up two early fouls and was sent to the bench for the rest of the quarter. Now with DJ on the bench the Thunder went to work, especially Shai who hit multiple threes and took advantage of multiple miscommunications from the Spurs to score 17 of his career high 42 in the first. However two positives from this quarter were that both Luka and Tre Jones scored and that the Spurs were only down 6 by the quarter’s end, 28-22.

The second quarter was also how it usually is for the Spurs; GREAT. They started on a 10-2 run with LA and Patty connecting multiple times for 3 before Lonnie Walker took over during the middle of the 2nd as he become more aggressive knocking down threes and driving the ball. The best part of the quarter was the defense, as the San Antonio Spurs only allowed 12 points in the 12 minutes of play in the 2nd and went into the break up 5, 45-40.

The third quarter was a bit up and down, the Spurs did well to begin the quarter as they increased their lead to 11 before OKC went on a 9-0 run to cut it to 2. Trey Lyles is a player I want to mention at this point because he played really solid offensive basketball during this stretch. He had some good spin moves layups, got to line and hit a triple. Jakob Poetl also made some nice blocks in this quarter especially on a Al Horford fade away jump shot and then when Al got the rebound from the block and tried to throw it down on the Yak he contested it well and forced the miss dunk.

The Spurs went into the 4th down 3 but started strongly as they went on a 11-0 run to build a bit of a lead. This is where it all went wrong, just like the third quarter the Thunder counted with their own 11-0 run and brought the game close again. The Spurs were unable to make buckets and the Thunder eventually went up 7 with 3 minutes to play. Just in case you were wondering with the wacky lineups today the Spurs 5 down the stretch was DJ, Patty, Lonnie, LMA and Jakob.

Patty showed the fight that we know he has as he had 7 straight points before a Lonnie Walker layup tied the game at 99 apiece with 30 seconds to play. A good defensive possession forced a miss from SGA and the Spurs had the ball and a timeout with 10 seconds to play. If you had read what I wrote earlier you all will know what happened. In case you didn’t here is what transpired, Patty got the ball and Pop had obvious set up some sort of play the Thunder pressured the ball Patty lost control and ended up double dribbling with 4 seconds to play. Thunder timeout, Thunder game winning shot. Game Over.

Observations

  • LaMarcus Aldrige should be coming off the bench. This is not just because we all want Jakob Poetl to start but because LA can genuinely be a threat because he is going against lower quality players like he did today with Isaiah Roby. Every time he had Roby against him he was able to score a bucket or force a foul and this is because he is so much more savvy and has loads more experience than most bench players in this league. It really would bode well for the Spurs and LA if he does make a permanent move to the bench rotation.
  • Why are we trying to run a play at the end of the game? This was a bad call in my opinion especially since we had no timeouts left. There was 10 seconds to go and the Thunder still had two. We really should have been making sure we took the last shot and if we miss well its overtime, no biggie. Though we tried to run a play it got busted up and a turnover incurred. Thunder had a timeout to advance the ball and you all know the rest by now. For me it would have been much smarter and safer to give the ball to either Patty or DJ, have them hold the ball at the top of the perimeter, wait for a bit of clock to go down, call for a screen then make a play.
  • Shai Gilgeous-Alexander is unstoppable. A career high 42 points with 8 rebounds and 4 assists. He got everything he wanted tonight and was the only reason the Thunder were able to stay in this game during the 2nd and 3rd quarters respectively. I really do believe this is what Dejounte Murray would be like if he ran a team the way the Thunder let Shai do. Talking about DJ, he had a great game; 27 points, 9 rebounds, 4 assists and two steals.
  • All 10 Spurs players that were available played and they all scored so that was nice to see!

Next game: Pelicans on Saturday

The Spurs return home to play the in-from Pelicans with first time All-Star Zion. This will be the first of the Spurs 4 straight home games as they head into the All-Star break at the conclusion of this mini home-stand