The San Antonio Spurs took down the new-look Chicago Bulls, 120-104, surviving a threatening fourth-quarter run and ending their season-high four-game losing streak.
Jakob Poeltl paced the Silver and Black with 20 points, nine rebounds, and three blocks, closely followed by 17 points from DeMar DeRozan. Nikola Vucevic led the Bulls with 21 points and nine boards.
- Gregg Popovich picked up the 1300th win of his career, joining Hall-of-Famers Lenny Wilkens and Don Nelson as the only play-callers in NBA history to reach that hallmark. Not only is Pop the quickest skipper to reach 1300 victories, but he is the only one to achieve this feat with a singular organization. While San Antonio’s long-time head coach won’t overtake Wilkens or Nelson this year, he should move into first-place all-time sometime next season.
- The Spurs nearly gave their fans a heart attack in the fourth quarter, allowing the Bulls to get back into the game after leading by as many as 35 points. Chicago and San Antonio did this same song and dance in their last meeting, with the good guys overcoming a 23-point deficit to pull out the dub. Though head coach Billy Donovan and company close the cushion to single digits, San Antonio ultimately staved off a ferocious comeback bid.
- Patty Mills passed a pair of former Chicago Bulls teammates on his way up the NBA’s all-time three-point leaderboard. San Antonio’s sixth man overtook Ben Gordon and Kirk Hinrich for 76th place, nailing the 1173rd trifecta of his career early in the final frame. Patty is now on pace to pass a trio of Spurs alumni Marco Belinelli, Hedo Turkoglu, and Stephen Jackson by the end of the season.
- Devin Vassell sprained his ankle in the second quarter and never returned to the game. The injury came on an unfortunate misstep away from the ball that ended in an and-one for the Bulls. There hasn’t been an update on how long this setback might sideline the rookie, though it was encouraging to see Vassell come off the court without any assistance.
- Pop used his lone coach’s challenge in the second quarter to overturn a miscalled shooting foul on Rudy Gay. And while it was nice to see two Denzel Valentine free throws exchanged for a jump ball, it’s times like these that make me think a successful challenge should earn you another challenge.
- The Spurs looked like a completely different team than the one that showed against the Clippers on Thursday night. San Antonio was locked in on the defensive end, holding Chicago to just 20 points in the first quarter. They also maintained excellent ball movement throughout the opening frame, with eight assists and four players notching at least five points. And their 33 points were three more than they had in the entire second half against Los Angeles.
- You can color me surprised after Jakob Poeltl led the Spurs in scoring versus the Chicago. Aside from several misfires from the charity stripe, the Austrian Center was virtually perfect in every other aspect of the outing. The block lobster recorded a Tim Duncanesque stat-line of 20 points, nine rebounds, and three blocks. Poeltl even knocked down a couple of crunch-time free throws after Chicago turned the Hack-a-Shaq tactic.
- Zach LaVine was likely ecstatic when the Bulls acquired Nikola Vucevic at the trade deadline earlier this week, but their debut was anything but picturesque. Although the All-Star duo combined for 39 points on 15-of-31 shooting, their ice-cold start put Chicago in a massive hole they were ultimately unable to overcome. It was fun to witness the Spurs play spoiler, but this team could be a dangerous sixth, seventh, or eighth seed come playoffs.
- I covered the Austin Spurs during their stint in the G League bubble about a month ago, and Cam Reynolds was one of my favorite players on the roster. The smooth scoring wing out of Tulane University showed two-way versatility for the winningest regular-season team in franchise history, and I was ecstatic when San Antonio signed Reynolds to a ten-day contract a day ago. Cam got his first points with San Antonio on a nifty floater, and I’m keeping my fingers crossed that the Silver and Black decide to keep Cam around for the remainder of the season.
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The San Antonio Spurs return to the hardwood on Monday as they kick off a two-game mini-series with the Sacramento Kings.