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Josh Richardson catches fire from deep as the Spurs outlast the Pacers

It’s hard to tank when you can’t miss from deep.

NBA: San Antonio Spurs at Indiana Pacers Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports

The Spurs built a lead big enough to enable them to survive a late Pacers’ push. The good guys played unselfish basketball with a healthy dollop of threes from the wing players. Josh Richardson led all players with 27 points, going 8 - 13 from downtown. Keldon Johnson continued his strong start to the season with 23 points with 6 assists. The Spurs were more efficient with the basketball as Josh Primo racked up a team-high 7 assists in 20:49 minutes of play off the bench.

It’s hard to believe, but Keldon Johnson is playing in his fourth year in the league. The departure of Dejounte Murray meant that Johnson would take the mantle and lead the Spurs. Although it’s only been two games, KJ already has two straight 20-point games under his belt. Although he doesn’t have to be the leading scorer every night for the Spurs, his consistency on the offensive side will be the barometer of how well the Spurs might be able to do this season.

Keldon Johnson has the opportunity to make a leap this season. Moves to the basket like these will only bolster KJ’s growth this season as the focal point of the team.

Josh Richardson is going to go full Costanza and be a chucker this season. Mark my words, as long as he just chucks up threes, Coach Popovich will leave him in. You cannot spell “green light” without “Josh Richardson has the green light from Pop.”

The Spurs will have to muster and utilize as much unselfish ball movement this season without a volume scorer. In seasons past, the team relied on players like DeMar DeRozan and Dejounte Murray to drive the offense. This season, the Spurs expect more crisp ball movement from side-to-side to generate easy buckets like this beautiful sequence.

My deep love for Josh Primo has not waivered, and there’s no reason it would waiver, even in the face of a routine pull up jumper from Primo that splashed suavely through the net. It’s going to be fun going along for the ride of Primo’s ascent this season. Best guess is that his playmaking will evolve faster than his scoring, which is OK–Optimus Primo can do no wrong.

A year ago, most if not all Spurs fans would not have guessed Tre Jones would be the starting point guard in 2022. Despite the sudden promotion, Jones fared well on Friday night. He had an impactful night on both ends of the floor with 18 points and 2 steals playing a team-high 35:02 minutes. By the end of this season, Tre Jones will be an unsung hero for the success (record-wise or emotionally, hopefully both!) of the Spurs rebuilding project.

Devin Vassell’s stroke from the three-point line looks as smooth as ever. Vassell came to play on Friday night, playing his usual efficient game going 7 -15 overall and 4 -7 from downtown. On a team devoid of an All-Star player, Vassell along with Keldon Johnson will have to take the reins and take the next step in their games in order for the Spurs to take that next step.

Devin Vassell’s shot is as smooth as butter on a hot metal slide. My apologies, I’ve been taking my daughter to the playground and lamented how she will never know the joy of burning your legs going down a metal slide in the heat of a Texas summer. Kids are too coddled these days.

Jakob Poeltl is the elder statesman of the 2022/2023 Spurs. Sure, he’s only 27 while Gorgui Dieng is 32, Doug McDermott is 30, and Josh Richardson is 29, but what’s age but a number, other than to determine how old someone is.

In this case, Poeltl shows what grown adults do by pushing through the Pacers’ defense for a quick bucket. I’m motivated to channel that energy into getting an adult Happy Meal that’s apparently sold out in some places because if adults will hoard toilet paper, they’ll hoard Happy Meals.

Rookie Jeremy Sochan took the ball to the hoop and gently laid it to rest in its rightful place below the rim and through the twiney net. The number 9 pick continued to start for the second game in a row. Although the numbers are modest, Sochan is soaking up a decent amount of minutes while learning NBA basketball on the fly.

Tonight was a good one for the young player. They say you’ll never forget your first win as a professional basketball player. Hopefully Sochan and the other rookies never forget this one. It’s not always pretty, but winning never gets ugly.

And last but never least, here are the full-game highlights:

Next up, the Spurs take their third leg of a four-game road trip to Philadelphia where they will take on the Sixers on Saturday, October 22, 2022.