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Devin Vassell scores career-high 29 in loss to the Clippers

The return of Vassell and Johnson was not quite enough for the Spurs

NBA: Los Angeles Clippers at San Antonio Spurs Scott Wachter-USA TODAY Sports

The San Antonio Spurs welcomed back their fearless leaders Keldon Johnson and Devin Vassell but could not outlast the Los Angeles Clippers. Vassell came off the bench and scored a career-high 29 points on an uber-efficient 12-16 from the field. Johnson chipped in 16 points along with 7 rebounds while Tre Jones scored 18 points with 6 assists.

Devin Vassell is only in his third year, and the season is still young, but the guard-forward is shooting a scorching 45% from three-point land. His three-point rate increased from 35% his rookie season to 36% last year. Incredibly, he’s averaging almost 8 three-point attempts per game, which makes his sharp shooting from deep all the more impressive.

Keldon Johnson’s shot looked right as rain for this long, long two. Johnson came back from his one-game absence and played heavy minutes right away despite scoring a season-low 16. He should rebound quickly and continue his ascent as one of the Spurs’ leading scorers.

Johnson is a prime candidate for most-improved player so the team’s early success hinges on him cementing that claim as the season wears on.

Rally on Bally. The Spurs closed out the first half strong with a 40-point explosion in the second quarter, punctuated by this sequence that ended with a friendly bounce for Johnson’s three-point shot.

Welcome to the block party, pal. With Halloween in the rear-view mirror. I encourage all you Spurs fans to take a minute and consider that Thanksgiving deserves as much attention and love as the unequivocal Christmas movie, Die Hard. Until then, take in this clip of Tre Jones and Jakob Poeltl putting in a group effort to contest and block a Clipper attempt at the basket.

This Sochan to Vassell connection was perfect; the and-1 (chef’s kiss) was the icing on the HEB strawberry sheet cake. No, HEB did not pay me to write that, but they should given the ungodly amount of strawberry sheet cake our household consumes on a monthly basis.

The Spurs as a team only had 23 assists against the Clippers. They’ll certainly look to up those numbers and keep the ball moving against the Nuggets in order to break this mini two-game losing streak.

Tre Jones had a nice reverse layup weaving through three Clipper defenders in traffic. The steady floor general was steady as ever on Friday night. Jones is averaging a career-high 12.9 points per game and 5.6 assists per game. No one has been more rock solid than the Spurs’ starting point guard this season.

Jeremy Sochan said, “Don’t mind me ,” as he helped himself to a one-handed put back. The slow motion on this clip was so slow that I wondered why Vassell and Zach Collins were just sitting there staring and not reacting to Sochan’s athletic play.

Also, two seconds in, you can see a Spurs fan posing for a photo that’s sure to go straight to Instagram. That’s always fun to see. #gospursgo

Vassell had a nice hesi-lefty to keep his defender off his back and finished with his off hand. The growth of both Vassell and Johnson this season cannot be overstated as both players are showing an array of offensive moves and trickery to score. Both players are showing they are more than just three-and-D.

Zach Collins performed this pretty pass to a cutting Doug McDermott, further proving that Dougie McBuckets will not be denied his buckets whether from three or in the paint. McDermott poured in 10 from the bench in 22 minutes of play on Friday night against the Clippers.

Both Collins and McDermott have proved to be valuable bench pieces for the Spurs this season, averaging a minimum 20 minutes apiece. Collins’s minutes have steadily, but surely (don’t call him Shirley) increased in the last three games as the young big man continues to add more minutes to his mileage and hopefully puts his past injuries further behind him.

Unsolicited Soap Box Segment:

Undoubtedly the Josh Primo story hangs over the Spurs this season and will continue to for the foreseeable future. For a sports franchise that prides itself on its esteemed culture and its exemplary standing in the San Antonio community, the players, personnel, and fans cannot ignore this cloud that shadows the Spurs–often seen as the model NBA franchise.

First and foremost, the victim deserves justice. Dr. Hillary Cauthen deserves to be heard, and the legal process here on out will hopefully shed more light and confirm the facts.

The team concept goes both ways: when the team is winning, everyone shares in that success; when the team is losing, everyone also shares in the struggle. Right now, off the court, the Spurs are struggling because the Primo accusations unfortunately cast the entire team in a bad light, whether that’s fair or not.

The coaches and other players are not the accused. They might not have even known any of this was going on so it’s certainly unfair to call their character into question. However, if the accusations are true, then even just one person’s failure to address the issue, or even worse their attempt to cover it up, is a failure that the entire organization will have to carry for now.

When more facts come out, and the legal process plays out, the Spurs as an organization can find some redemption if it was true that Primo’s alleged actions and one or several other people acting in their own self interest was not indicative of the other Spurs personnel, staff, coaches, and players.

Of course, the biggest redemption will be to learn from their mistakes (because mistakes were undoubtedly made) and to make sure that nothing like this ever happens again.

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

Next up, the Spurs head to Denver to take on the Nuggets on Saturday, November 5, 2022 at 8:00 PM.