In a reverse of Wednesday’s 23-point comeback win over the Chicago Bulls, the San Antonio Spurs used a strong first two-and-a-half quarters to build a 23-point lead of their own before spending the fourth staving off a mad comeback attempt by the Cleveland Cavaliers to win 116-110: their third straight.
A big reason for both the strong start and late hang-on was Keldon Johnson, who had himself a career night with 23 points and 21 rebounds, including 11 offensive rebounds and plenty of his hardnosed, gutsy style of play.
The Mustang’s performance made him the first Spur to have 20+ points and rebounds in a game since Tim Duncan in 2010. It was also only the 7th time and 4th player 6’5” or under to accomplish the feat in NBA history, per Jordan Howenstine. The other three are Fat Lever (four times), Russell Westbrook, and Shai Gilgeous-Alexander.
The Spurs also welcomed DeMar DeRozan back into the fold following a four-game absence for his father’s funeral. He looked like he hadn’t missed a beat with 20 points and 7 assists and a weight seemingly lifted from his shoulders.
Dejounte Murray quietly had himself a night with an efficient 22 points and 6 rebounds, including this nifty coast-to-coast drive and a circus shot (both and-ones) that showed off his vastly improved touch around the rim.
Last but not least, Rudy Gay provided 10 points, four rebounds and a steal off the bench, which allowed him to join some elite NBA company.
Rudy Gay just entered the Top 100 in NBA history in steals.— Jordan Howenstine (@AirlessJordan) March 20, 2021
Only three players to record at least 16,000 points, 5,000 rebounds and 1,000 steals since Gay entered the league in 2006:
Overall six Spurs scored in double figures, but here’s to hoping their inability to put the game away early and a dragged out fourth quarter doesn’t come back to bite them tonight against the Milwaukee Bucks, who have won nine of their last ten games.