The Spurs welcomed the Brooklyn Nets to the AT&T Center for the front end of their back to back with the teams from New York State. This was the first encounter the Spurs have had with the new look Nets this season. The Nets were still without Kevin Durant but got Kyrie back after he missed the loss to the Dallas Mavericks. The Spurs on the other hand are still struggling to gets players back after being ravaged by the Covid virus. Keldon Johnson who was questionable for this game was left out due to Coach Pop not thinking he was ready fitness wise just yet. Devin Vassell, Derrick White and Rudy Gay were all still missing due to the Covid Protocols.
The Spurs had good news on the morning of this game as they announced that fans will be allowed back into the arena starting after the All Star break for the game on March 12th against the Orlando Magic. Though for tonight’s game there were none, but how we wish there was, as they could have watched an immensely fun game between two teams in form.
Though if the first quarter was any indication then maybe this game was not going to be as fun as it would have seemed, as both teams started very sloppy, missing easy shots and not getting into an offensive flow. For the Spurs the only real moment of talking in this period was about youngster Luka Samanic. Luka had a great first quarter, one spot in particular was a defensive possession where he guarded James Harden. He did well to keep Harden in front when he was trying to drive and when he went for his move to the bucket, Luka stayed big and ended up forcing a kick out pass. To cap this off Luka went down the floor the next possession to hit a three.
The second and third periods of this game is where it got going. Teams started making runs including one for the Nets where they got their largest lead of the game of 12. The Spurs countered with a 9-0 run all which included three threes from three different Spurs (Patty, Trey & Lonnie). The Spurs struggled midway through the 2nd when trying to get stops and so Pop called an audible to switch to a 2-3 zone to end the half. This worked as DeMar ended up going on a personal 5-0 run to cut the lead to 3 by the buzzer. Lonnie, DJ and Poeltl played big in the 3rd as they all were being aggressive, getting to their spots and scoring. Lonnie from three, DJ from midrange and Poeltl with three push shots.
Gotta shout out Keita Bates-Diop for how he played during this stretch. He made a big momentum 3 and also a tip back rebound for two much-needed second chance points. Right at the end of the third the Spurs were down three when the ball found its way to Luka who hit the big shot to take the game into the 4th all tied up at 81.
The fourth did not start the way the Spurs would have hoped as the Nets went on a 9-1 run and had a 97-86 lead with six minutes to go. The Spurs began the quarter with stagnant offense as they couldn’t get into any of their sets for good looks. This all changed when Lonnie Walker went ballistic, he hit back to back threes to keep San Antonio alive. The Spurs kept the pressure on with an 8-0 run to bring the game to within 2 points with 40 seconds remaining. The Nets called a timeout, they ran their play and missed but they got a rebound and got another chance. The Spurs decided not to foul and with around 10 seconds to play Kyrie drove, missed the layup and the Dejounte Murray picked up the ball and ran down the court. Harden stepped in front and forced DJ to lose the ball, though it landed practically at his feet. He got he ball and had the clock awareness to get off a good-looking shot from the top of the key that fell through the net precisely as the buzzer sounded. DEJOUNTE MURRAY, LADIES AND GENTLEMAN.
Unfortunately, this was the last of the good things to happen for the Spurs as the Nets started overtime on an 8-0 run and finished the game off with a minute plus to spare. Pop waved the white flag as he pulled his starters to get them ready for tomorrow back to back against the New York Knicks.
- The Covid ravaged Spurs continue to fight. All could be forgiven if the Spurs down 10 with under 3 to play would have given in but they didn’t, they have this sort of mentality that won’t let them quit. The fact that so many of these young Spurs have this mentality so young is only going to bode well for the future.
- Lonnie Walker hit 5 threes which is a very good sign, especially considering he took 10. A 50 percent three-point percentage when you are shooting 10 is elite and even though Lonnie won’t shoot like this every game it’s a positive that we know he can have performances like this.
- Harden looks like a completely different player now in Brooklyn than he did in Houston. As Spurs viewers we have got use to watching Harden play all the time considering Houston are in our division. This meant we have been use to Harden dribbling at the top for 20 seconds before stepping back for three. If you have had the time to watch the Nets this season Harden isn’t doing that as much anymore, he is facilitating a lot more using the pick and roll and not just relaying on his step back three to win his teams games.
- All 6 players who played 25+ minutes tonight scored double figures. The interesting thing here is that LaMarcus Aldridge didn’t even come close to playing 25 minutes plus, not even in an OT game where there is 5 additional minutes. Aldridge only played 15 minutes tonight, interesting.
Next game: Knicks on Tuesday
The Spurs get to put this OT loss behind them as quick as possible as they play Brooklyn’s local rivals the New York Knicks on the back end of this back to back. The Knicks are above 0.500 and are playing well and getting lots of attention lately so the Spurs will need to bring their best as so far this season they are winless in second halves of back to backs.