I said yesterday that the Spurs would have to pull something out of their sleeve if they were going to get a win against the Suns on a home to road back to back, AND oh boy did they. Saturday was undoubtedly the team’s most impressive performance of the season to date, even more impressive that they did this without their best player; DeMar DeRozan, their best defensive player; Jakob Poeltl, and their six-man sharpshooter; Patty Mills. All three were out due to rest, and should be back for the game against Indiana on Monday.
With two starters out for the game, Pop elected to start the peaking Drew Eubanks at center and second year forward Luka Samanic. For both this was their 4th career start, but the first of the season for Drew. It’s not just the changes in lineup that made this performance so spectacular but they were up against a red-hot Phoenix Suns team who had won four on the bounce and sat 2nd in the Western Conference at 40 and 15.
The Spurs played well for 46 minutes, and only the first two were unimpressive. The Suns started fast and were taking advantage of the Spurs youth. They went on an early 8-2 run but the youngsters stuck at it after the slow beginning. Luka was looking for his shot early, especially in the post but was unlucky not to have any fall. The shots were dropping for Derrick White who hit some first quarter threes. Gorgui Dieng returned for his first minutes in 5 games; the newest Spurs signee made an impression right away —grabbing a defensive rebound before coming up the floor and collecting an offensive one and putting it back in for an and-1. Besides the opening exchanges the first term was great for the Spurs, the pace was high as the young guys were running the floor with speed and purpose, while the defense was holding strong on the other end. Spurs had a commanding 28-19 lead after 1.
Dejounte pushed the lead to double digits for the first time in the game after he hit a three to start the 2nd. The Spurs hot shooting continued as a couple of minutes later they hit back to back ones including a deep late three by Lonnie Walker IV. The Suns called a timeout to try and slow the Spurs down, but it didn’t work as San Antonio came back with 6 straight that made it a 12-0 run with the lead now sitting at 21 points. The Suns leader Chris Paul tried to inspire his team with some shot making but every time he did so the Spurs had a counter of the offensive side of the floor. Drew Eubanks made his first statement of the game late in the half as he contributed with some points, rebounds and steals in his late quarter spurt. Unfortunately, the Silver & Black had some sloppy attacking possessions as the Suns slimed the lead with a 6-0 run. The road team still had a 19-point lead at the interval.
Eubanks started the next half the same way he ended the last one, Drew had 3 made shots early which included, a hook, a long jumper and a dunk. Then a Derrick White three gave the San Antonio Spurs a 24 point margin halfway through the period. Keldon Johnson decided to show up to the party late in this term as he provided 8 straight points for the Spurs. But just like Phoenix did to end the last quarter they were able to reduce the deficit late with 8 unanswered points going into the 4th.
The lead to start the 4th was the same as it was at the half; 19. Though the Suns were trying to battle back as they hit the first shot of the quarter but Spurs rookie Devin Vassell countered with his third three of the game, he would end up with 4. San Antonio did a great job in the second half of keeping the margin in the teens and low 20’s, so after a 9-0 run pushed it to the high 20’s, the Suns decided it was time to clear the bench and the Spurs followed suit shortly after. The bench unit of the Silver & Black were able to momentarily stretch the lead for a game high 31 in garbage time. Then in a weird exchange, Gorgui Dieng was ejected from the game for receiving two back to back technicals. He and Frank Kaminsky were jawing at each other but still a strange ejection to see so late in a blowout game. The final scored ended up being 111-85 San Antonio win!
- Night and Day in shooting performances. So many times this year we have looked at the box score and saw the Spurs were outshot but tonight was not that night. The Spurs shot 12/29 from three compared to the Suns woeful 6/27. San Antonio also shot 50 percent from the floor, 10 percent more than Phoenix did. We should not expect this every night, as we know the Spurs are not a great shooting team especially from the outside but nights like this make the game so much easier for our guys when they aren’t having to tough out every offensive possession.
- DEFENSE WAS PHENOMENAL. Some of the best defense I’ve seen our guys play all year. The Suns were held to 86 points! Yes, 86 points! and it was more to do with our defense than their offense. Our guys were all over the floor tonight in the best possible way, swarming every Suns player, deflecting every pass and contesting every shot. Beautiful defense, I could watch that defensive effort all day long!
- Career high Devin. Before the game, Pop was asked about why Vassell hasn’t seen the floor much lately and his response was ‘we’re playing other guys’. We have now got to wonder after tonight if Pop will still be playing other guys, because Devin put on a 2-way masterclass. A career high 18 points, 7/9 from the floor and 4/6 from three. His defense was majestic as usual, no matter who he was guarding. If this performance doesn’t get him minutes, then I don’t know what will.
- Tonight SVP (Spurs Valuable Player) goes to DREW EUBANKS, for the second night in a row. What more can I really say about this man, his effort is above anyone else he is on the court with, he is hitting his shots and defending with patience. 13 points, 13 rebounds, 2 steals, one block and for the second night in a row didn’t miss a field goal, was 7/7 last night and tonight 6/6. DREW SVP EUBANKS!
Next game: Vs. the Pacers on Monday
After a shock win on the road the Spurs travel to Indiana to try and make it 2 and 0 on this short roadie before they head home for a back to back at the AT&T Center.