Usually when using the term “roller coaster” to describe a basketball game, the immediate thoughts that come to mind is drama, flip-flopping leads, and a wild array of emotions throughout. Somehow the San Antonio Spurs’ performance against the Detroit Pistons — a relatively comfortable 106-91 win at home — was a roller coaster ride but also none of the things above. It was more like riding that yellow kiddie coaster thing at Six Flags Fiesta Texas than Steel Eel at Sea World with all it’s dramatic ups and downs. You feel the motion but it’s very slight, your facial expression never changes, you get neither excited or nervous, and when it’s all over you feel no worse for wear.
Although the Spurs continued their habit relaxing when they get up at home and allowing a couple of second half double-digit leads to be taken down to just a bucket’s difference against the Pistons last night, it never truly felt like they would fall off the track, and sure enough they responded each time instead disappearing and letting the game get away from them.
That all started with Lonnie Walker getting the start and picking up the slack early on offense while showing off both his driving ability touch from outside.
But after briefly looking a little rusty in taking on the role of facilitator, Derrick White took over from there, leading the way with a complete performance of 26 points, 7 rebounds, 8 assists, 3 blocks and a steal.
White wasn’t the only one who showed out against the cellar dwellers of the East. Jakob Poeltl continued his march towards becoming a double-double machine and NBA All-Defensive Team candidate with 17 points, 11 rebounds, 4 blocks and even 4 assists. Best of all, he defied his former coach’s Hack-a-Jak attempts by going 5-6 overall from the line, including 3-4 during the hacking.
A nicely operated fast break between Keldon Johnson and Rudy Gay assured the Spurs a double-digit lead at halftime.
Last second bucket before the break pic.twitter.com/xvvNGsRbvh— San Antonio Spurs (@spurs) April 23, 2021
The Spurs continued their aforementioned up-and-down ways during the second half, but plays like this from Gay and Walker helped prevent any complete comebacks for Detroit.
Finally, this Big Body Slam from Keldon Johnson at the end of the game put away any hope the Pistons may have had left and led to Gregg Popovich emptying his bench.
Hopefully with some key players rested, the Spurs will be ready to take on the New Orleans Pelicans in a big showdown on Saturday. With NOLA’s play-in hopes hang by a thread, the Road Warrior Spurs can help put an even bigger gap between them and the 11th seed by handing them their 34th loss.