Fresh off an exciting but draining win against the Dallas Mavericks, the San Antonio Spurs found themselves entering a potential trap game on a SEGABABA against the not-so-subtly tanking Orlando Magic. After a brief slow start, the Spurs used a team effort to insert their dominance from midway through the first quarter and on for the comfortable and satisfying 120-97 blowout win, beginning a new winning streak along the way.
Six Spurs scored in double figures, led by 19 points from DeMar DeRozan, and Drew Eubanks had his first career double-double with 10 points and 10 rebounds. RJ Hampton led four Magic players in double figures with 16 points.
- Welcome back, reliable Spurs bench unit! After the Magic got out to a 13-7 lead midway through the first quarter without much ball movement or energy coming from the Spurs starters, Lonnie Walker came in and promptly scored 8 straight points (and just barely missed another potential dunk of the night), and Rudy Gay contributed another 6 as they closed the quarter on a 21-3 run. Bench scoring was desperately missed during the losing streak, but things appear to be getting back on track, and it’s something the team must have to survive the rest of the season.
- From watching both last night and tonight, it seems Gregg Popovich’s answer to his tired players is to shorten the amount of time they spend on the court per stint and stagger the rotation, and it appears to be working. By not being on the court to the point they’re exhausted, that means less recuperation time on the bench and less need to find a rhythm again when reentering the game.
- Another thing that helps the team maintain energy is a full team effort, and they had that throughout the first half. An extended scoring drought by the Magic helped, but the Spurs got out to a very comfortable 60-37 halftime lead despite only Gay and DeRozan barely eclipsing double digits. They had 18 assists on the 23 field goals, shot 8-17 from three, and six other player scored between 4 and 9 points in the half.
- Watching Patty Mills and his spiritual twin Cole Anthony go at each other was entertaining, and not just because they both play feisty, little-man defense. The only thing they needed to be hair twins was if Anthony had his locks tied back in a man bun — or if Patty had it all hanging down with just the headband.
- Keldon Johnson took a couple of scary falls in the third quarter, one after flying over Wendell Carter Jr’s head on a pump fake and landing on his face, and another after Michael Carter-Williams nearly pulled his arm out of the socket on a steal attempt. Both times he took a moment before getting up grimacing but kept playing. It will take more than that to take Big Body down, but maybe he should stay away from anyone named Carter for a little while, just in case.
- As the Magic were threatening to make things interesting in third quarter, having taken what had been a 28-point lead down to 20, Pop used his Coach’s Challenge after a foul was called on Eubanks as he contested a Terrence Ross jumper. It initially appeared there was no contact and it would get overturned, but it ended up standing as Eubanks off hand had barely grazed Ross before he went into his shot in a sign of how much this is a shooter’s league. I don’t blame Pop for trying anyways since despite the comfortable lead, free threes were the only thing the Magic had going in their favor, with a 20-8 advantage in attempts at the time (and what would be 32-18 by the end of the game). Steve Clifford soon returned the favor as what had been a shooting foul call on James Ennis III was overturned into an offensive foul on DeRozan, who had chicken-winged him before he swiped down.
- Despite the Spurs being up by 28 headed into the fourth quarter, Pop oddly wasn’t quite ready to empty his bench as he still had three starters plus Gay and Walker in to start the quarter. They built the lead a bit more to 99-69 with 7:45 left, Pop finally emptied the bench, and we had something we haven’t had in quite a while: winning garbage time. The third unit managed things just fine, and everyone who played scored. (For anyone who’s interested, Luka Samanic had 7 points on 3-4 shooting, including a three and two nice drives to the basket from beyond the arc.)
- Not that the Spurs had any reason to lose this game, but the last two performances have certainly been encouraging. After willing their way to victory in Dallas against the odds, the Spurs came to Orlando and did something they struggled to do in recent weeks: take care of business against a lesser opponent, and in emphatic fashion no less. The extra rest for the main rotation players can only help, and maybe they have gotten over a hump that will reenergize them the rest of the way. Their play the rest of the week will be telling.
For the Magic Fans’ perspective, visit Orlando Pinstriped Post.
The Spurs get a night off before taking on game 3 of their FIGASENI on Wednesday in Tampa Bay against the Toronto Raptors. Tip-off will be at 6:30 PM CT on BSSW.