The San Antonio Spurs finished their home-stand with a win over the NBA leaders the Milwaukee Bucks which also snapped a five-game losing streak. The Bucks were, however, extremely short-handed with their three stars Giannis, Middleton & Holiday all missing due to various injuries.
The Spurs were able to set the tone early with strong defensive plays courtesy of Jakob Poeltl and Tre Jones. Even with the defense, both teams were hitting their outside shots in the first quarter albeit with a low number of attempts. When the Silver & Black went to their bench the reserves did a good job of keeping the same defensive intensity with swarming effort and hard-nosed defense. The Bucks though were getting the favorable call from the officials early on which did allow them to pick up points from the line, but San Antonio still led after 1; 31-27.
The home team was controlling the pace of the game and limiting the Bucks to half-court possessions instead of allowing transition points which had been a killer so far this season for them. Keldon Johnson had six straight points in the period which gave San Antonio their first double-digit lead of the game but Milwaukee’s double-big lineup gave the Spurs trouble on the glass which led to second-chance points. Ultimately the Spurs grew their lead from the end of the first to be in front 54-46 at the half.
San Antonio came up gunning in the third with two threes in their first two possessions to turn up the heat on the visitors. The young Spurs were getting up and down the floor and this was giving the Bucks a lot of trouble as they were getting torched for easy points in transition. The Silver & Black did briefly go up 21 in the frame after a great sequence that involved a violent Jakob block and then a Doug McDermott transition triple, but Milwaukee countered with an 18-4 run to bring the deficit down to 7 by the quarter's end.
During that Bucks run at the end of the third it was Devin Vassell who was the only one able to make anything happen for the home side and he continued his momentum into the fourth hitting a couple of tough shots to keep the lead at arms distance. When Vassell went out for a breather Keldon came back in and shut the lights out on the Bucks with an explosion of buckets and his all-too-familiar energy. From that point on the Spurs had complete control and it never got too close again, with San Antonio emerging victorious by 18 points; 111-93.
- Charles Bassey. A really, really strong performance by the backup big as the San Antonio high-school native continues his stellar run of games. 5 points, 14 rebounds, 4 assists, and 4 blocks for Bassey who made his impact known whenever he stepped onto the court. Some of his blocks were nasty and just plain mean. It’s going to be exciting to see what level Bassey can get to in a Spurs uniform because he can just flat-out play. Hooper.
- Transition Play. The Spurs destroyed the Bucks with their full-court offense in this game, using their youth and energy to beat Milwaukee to the other end every time there was an opportunity to run. Better yet, they made sure on defense to hustle back and not give up any easy buckets beating the Bucks 21-0 in fastbreak points.
- The Dynamic Duo. Keldon Johnson: 32 minutes, 29 points, 9/17 fgs, 5/8 threes, 6/6 free throws. Devin Vassell: 31 minutes, 22 points, 9/17 fgs, 2 threes, 5 rebounds.
Play of the game
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Next game: @ Golden State on Monday
The Spurs get two days off before starting a five-game west-coast road trip, starting with the defending champions, the Golden State Warriors.