The short-handed Spurs played way better than they had a right to tonight without Dejounte Murray, Derrick White, and Jakob Poeltl, and with the Suns trying to coast to a win against the Spurs decimated lineup, the Silver and Black were able to make life tough for the home team until close to the very end. But Chris Paul showed why at 35, he’s still one of the smartest and best players in the games, and somehow got the referees to award him a late timeout which prevented a turnover which could have been the break the Spur needed to hold on to a win. Despite the loss, it was a really good game for a lot of young players, as Josh Primo, Jock Landale, Tre Jones, and Lonnie Walker all made solid contributions. Doug McDermott had one of his better scoring games of the season, and they were just one play away from another upset victory. Unfortunately, that’s something we’ve heard way too many times this season, and at some point, the painful experience of close losses will have to be turned into the exuberance of close wins, and that will happen when the team can keep up a consistent effort for all 48 minutes of a game.
- The All Star reserves are being picked later this week, and looking at who’s left after the ridiculous fan picks, I really don’t see Dejounte making it this year. He’s definitely in the top six or seven in the West, but with Andrew Wiggins as a starter, that’s already one wasted roster spot.
- This game was simultaneous with NFL playoffs, specifically the NFC Championship game between the 49ers and the Rams, so I’ll admit to divided attention for this one. The NFL playoffs have been amazing this year, and I can only hope that the NBA can have a bunch of close series this summer to keep fan interest high.
- Bismack Biyombo’s renaissance has been really fun to watch. He’s a guy who probably got overpaid early and flamed out too soon, but after some time out of the league, he’s found his hunger for basketball, and he’s really playing great for the Suns. It was a really good find for James Jones and the Suns front office.
- Tre Jones came out of the gate with a bang, taking advantage of the starting opportunity and making a good case for a lot more playing time.
- The Suns defensive effort at the beginning of the game wasn’t great, it’s almost like they were taking the Spurs for granted. But they turned it on in the final quarter and were able to bring themselves back into the game before the clock ran out.
- Juancho Hernangomez got some early run and he looks in shape, and played some solid defense, despite having almost no practice time with the team. I thought of him as just filler in the trade where he came to the Spurs, but I think after watching him play, he has a chance to stick with the Silver and Black. His hustle on the jump ball with Biyombo gave the Spurs a critical basket at the end of the first half. The Spur have been awful on jump balls all season, and it was great to see a win for a change.
- I think Josh Primo should be in San Antonio the rest of the season. He looks ready. I don’t know if the G-League has anything more to teach him.
- Eubanks is shooting 12.5% from three this year. Bill and Sean seem to think he should take these shots when he’s wide open, but it doesn’t seem like a good strategy, especially since it takes one of the better rebounders away from the paint. It’s a head-scratching decision. Despite his limitations on offense, Drew played on of his better defensive games tonight and his hustle was a real positive for the Silver and Black.
- Javale McGee has been on a bunch of teams, but he always brings a lot to the table. He’s a tremendous assets for the Suns.
- An uncalled double dribble from Devin Booker was a decisive factor late in the game, as they were able to retake the lead on a Booker triple instead of losing the ball, and started them off on a game-changing 9-2 run that ended the Spurs hopes.
Reclamation project Bismack Biyombo scored the first points of the game, but the Spurs distributed the ball with Tre Jones running the point, the score was pretty even for most of the early part of the quarter. The defensive effort from the young Spurs players held the Suns offense in check for the most part, and the first ended up with Spur up 31-23.
Chris Paul started to take over in the early part of the second quarter, scoring six points in the first two minutes, cutting the Spurs lead to a deuce and triggering a quick timeout from Pop. The Silver and Black used McDermott’s ability to get open to barely hold on to a razor thin lead until Mikal Bridges put the home team up with breakaway dunk after a Spurs turnover with a little more than 3 minutes left in the half. The Spurs offense became stagnant, but Tre Jones kept them in it by creating his own offense. The Suns were still taking their opponent for granted and let the Spurs back in the game with dumb fouls and poor decision making, and the Spurs ended the quarter on a 9-2 run and led 55-50 at the half.
Drew Eubanks started off the second half scoring with a dunk assisted by Tre Jones, and the Spurs led by 7. Chris Paul, really the only Suns player not in coasting mode, brought the Suns back within a basket, but the Silver and Black clawed and scratched their way back with Doug McDermott and Keldon hitting triples to put them up by 9 halfway through the quarter. Booker started to heat up for the Suns, but the Spurs had an answer to every Phoenix move, an led by a dozen on a steal and layup by Lonnie Walker on Devin Booker at the end of the quarter.
The Suns started out the final quarter with a triple from Ish Wainright and after an 8-2 start from the home team, Pop called another early time out to try and stop the bleeding. Unfortunately for the Silver and Black, the bleeding just intensified as Chris Paul led the home team on a 14-0 run to retake the lead at 96-93 with a Cam Johnson dunk and layup. The Spurs clawed their way back and retook the lead 99-98 on a Keldon and-one basket. The teams traded punches like tired heavyweights, with Primo giving the Spurs a 106-105 lead, and neither could put away the other. But the game turned in the last two minutes when Devin Booker fell in the key after a flip, and appeared to either travel or double dribble, but somehow the referees saw Chris Paul calling a timeout which negated the turnover. The Suns finished on a 9-2 run and won 115-110.
What’s Next . . .
For the Suns fan’s perspective, head over to Bright Side of the Sun.
The Spurs record is now 19-32 and they are in 12th place in the west. After tonight, the Spurs return home to face the Golden State Warriors on Tuesday night in the AT&T Center. That should be another tough contest, but the Silver and Black always play well against top teams and it’s another great opportunity for a big San Antonio upset.