The San Antonio Spurs lost this game early on, as the Phoenix Suns outscored them by 25 in the second quarter with superiority in the paint and accurate shooting to take advantage of the short-handed Spurs lineup. The absence of Jakob Poeltl inside and foul trouble for Zach Collins and Charles Bassey left the Spurs vulnerable to DeAndre Ayton’s length and improving ability to pass that made this game a Bambi vs Godzilla level mismatch. Devin Booker and the rest of the Suns did their part for the Suns, hitting the wide open three-pointers the Spurs were giving them by trying to double team Ayton, but it was the superior interior play which broke the game open for Phoenix and doomed the hapless Spurs to their 11th straight loss. With a possible late injury to Devin Vassell, that streak could get much longer in the near future, so these are dark times for fans of the Silver and Black.
The Spurs got off to a quick start with Devin Vassell hitting a double and a triple and Tre Jones on a fast break layup after a steal. The lead didn’t last as the Suns used their size advantage inside with Ayton to tie the game at 15 halfway through the first. The Spurs didn’t get good contributions from anyone not named Vassell but were able to score well and trailed 30-35 after one.
Foul trouble on Zach Collins and Charles Bassey cause the Spurs to have to play a small lineup for much of the second quarter with predictable results, as the Suns pressed the advantage and swelled their advantage into double digits. Eventually, the glacially slow Gorgui Dieng took over in the post, which created some interesting looks on defense. The Spurs broke under the pressure, and after a 15-0 run from the Suns broke the game open and they led 71-41 at the half, outscoring the Spurs by 25 in the quarter, 36-11.
The Spurs collapse continued in the third quarter, as the Suns’ lead ballooned beyond 40, and extended garbage time began. With the game out of reach, it was time for individual players to work on their games, and maybe time for Coach Brown to do some teaching. Keldon Johnson stayed in the game, and seemed to make some progress in working through his offensive woes by taking the ball inside. The Suns led 106-71 after three quarters.
Keldon Johnson got into a little rhythm in the final frame, even hitting a three point shot, as the Spurs continued to use garbage time to work on their games. Unfortunately, the quarter was marred by an injury to Devin Vassell. I couldn’t see what happened to him, but he went to the locker room immediately, which couldn’t be good. After Devin’s injury, Coach Brown pulled KJ from the lineup, which was probably the wise choice, as the white flag of surrender had been flying for the Silver and Black since the second quarter, and it was time for the end of the bench to chew up the final meaningless minutes, which were made even more painful by clock problems causing delays in the final minute.
- In pre-game interviews, Devin Vassell showed he’s more than just a really good basketball player, he’s becoming one of the leaders of this team, by emphasizing that even when a team loses, they have to use the experience to get better and learn. This will be valuable experience later, as painful as it is to watch now.
- Dario Saric, who was a frequently mentioned trade target last year for the Silver and Black when he was out with a knee injury, looks to be fully healthy this year, and a really solid pickup for the Suns.
- DeAndre Ayton looked very raw when he was originally drafted by the Suns with the first overall pick in 2019, to the point that people questioned whether the Suns would resign him after his rookie contract. The Suns matched the Pacers’ max offer to give him a 4 year contract and he’s really looking like he’s worth the money now.
- The initial surge of Basseymania seemed overblown, but after tonight, I might be reboarding the Bassey train. He has incredible athleticism, and he’s still learning the game. Give him a year or two and he could be a dominant inside player.
- Jock Landale is logging some good minutes for the Suns. I’m pretty sad that the Spur lost him in the Murray trade, because he was a fun guy to have around.
- Malaki Branham is looking better with every game. He might be one of the biggest steals of the 2022 draft.
- They called a moving screen on Gorgui Dieng in the second quarter. I don’t know how that’s even possible, since he can barely move.
- I feel like the work that Keldon Johnson got in extended garbage time was a good way for him to regain his rhythm, and hopefully it will pay dividends after the Spurs take a little time off before the next game.
- Even though the score was completely out of control, it really looked like the Spurs still played with intensity. I’m not sure how that makes me feel, because it shows just how far the Spurs are from being a contending team, that a good team can easily beat them without breaking a sweat even when they are working hard. The talent disparity between the Spurs and the Sun is a vast abyss, and there’s no way just one draft pick will be able to bridge it. Tanking for Wenbanyama is one thing, but the Silver and Black will need a lot more than that to become a good team, much less a contender.
For the Suns fans’ perspective, please visit Bright Side of the Sun.
The Spurs are currently in the cellar of the western conference. Playoffs, here we come.