The San Antonio Spurs finally ended their four-game losing streak as they survived the Boston Celtics in a back-and-forth nail-biter that came down to a rollercoaster of a final possession. Despite failing to score 100 points for the first time in more than a month, the good guys depended on their defense to seal their first victory of the new year.
Dejounte Murray was outstanding in his return from a ten-game absence, notching 22 points, 12 assists, and falling one rebound shy of his seventh triple-double of the season. Devin Vassell retained his hot hand for a third straight outing with 17 points on 50% shooting. Derrick White also pitched in 17 points to go along with his usual scrappy defense.
Devin Vassell has been automatic from the field since head coach Gregg Popovich inserted him into the starting lineup, and the second-year wing kept his momentum rolling with a right corner triple.
.@Yvngdevo is heating up pic.twitter.com/jRDIY9Q9eV— San Antonio Spurs (@spurs) January 6, 2022
Bryn Forbes continued San Antonio’s early three-point party as he nailed a straightaway catch-and-shoot trifecta courtesy of a perfectly executed dribble handoff from Keita Bates-Diop.
@BrynjForbes pic.twitter.com/Fyc8GXtuMf— San Antonio Spurs (@spurs) January 6, 2022
Vassell had the hot hand in the first quarter, and he punctuated his strong opening frame by rounding the corner on Grant Williams and rising inside the paint for a resounding one-handed jam.
JUST FILTHY!!! @Yvngdevo cookin' it up in the first! pic.twitter.com/hcwzK6CjNm— San Antonio Spurs (@spurs) January 6, 2022
Keldon Johnson has been on a cold streak from beyond the arc, but the third-year forward reminded everyone why he has the fourth-best three-point percentage in the NBA with this three from the top of the key.
KJ from deeeeeeeep pic.twitter.com/a0YVGlp6A9— San Antonio Spurs (@spurs) January 6, 2022
Dejounte Murray didn’t miss a beat in his highly anticipated return to the hardwood, and he used a crafty hesitation to get his layup to fall despite having Robert Williams III draped all over him.
DJ doing DJ things @DejounteMurray pic.twitter.com/7otBJL9tbV— San Antonio Spurs (@spurs) January 6, 2022
Murray picked up where he left off in the first half as he used a well-timed screen to get a mismatch with Al Horford before dancing with the ball and knocking down a smooth mid-range jumper.
DJ makin' it look easy out there pic.twitter.com/6nucSHVDpV— San Antonio Spurs (@spurs) January 6, 2022
The sixth-year floor general remained an unrelenting pest for the Celtics throughout the night, playing the passing lanes and going the other way for one of his patented steal and slams.
A threat on BOTH ends pic.twitter.com/jCmmNgSqYq— San Antonio Spurs (@spurs) January 6, 2022
Though Boston held the Silver and Black in check for most of the contest, their defenders had a momentary lapse in communication, leaving Jakob Poeltl unattended under the basket for a wide-open dunk.
POELTL JAM ALERT pic.twitter.com/iTTorgsoDn— San Antonio Spurs (@spurs) January 6, 2022
Keita Bates-Diop drove baseline on Jayson Tatum for a thunderous rim-rocker after Dejounte perfectly set the table for the second string combo forward with a nifty mid-shot pass that froze the defense.
Consider it STUFFED pic.twitter.com/OOg9N2ruOr— San Antonio Spurs (@spurs) January 6, 2022
Derrick White willed the Spurs to a win down the stretch with his flawless transition defense, but it was his pull-up jumper over Horford at the start of crunch time that set the tone for the rest of regulation.
Pull up on 'em, Derrick! pic.twitter.com/23HGQlljeH— San Antonio Spurs (@spurs) January 6, 2022
While the Celtics threatened to pull even on several occasions throughout the final minutes of this matchup, Derrick White drew Jaylen Brown into a tide-turning charge by laying his body on the line.
DEFENSE DEFENSE pic.twitter.com/y9XMO6pgSu— San Antonio Spurs (@spurs) January 6, 2022
And as always, here are the full-game highlights.