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San Antonio vs. Golden State, Final Score: Spurs succumb to an improbable Warriors comeback, 120-124

Fourth-quarter woes come back to bite the Silver and Black in an all-too-familiar storyline.

Golden State Warriors v San Antonio Spurs Photos by Michael Gonzales/NBAE via Getty Images

The San Antonio Spurs dropped another winnable game to a shorthanded Golden State Warriors squad that blew them out of the water in the fourth quarter. Despite leading by 17 points, the good guys fell apart down the stretch, eventually succumbing to a massive comeback, 120-124.

Dejounte Murray paced the Silver and Black with 27 points, nine boards, and nine assists, supported by 21 points from Derrick White and 17 points from Keldon Johnson. Jordan Poole led the Warriors with 31 points, Damien Lee added 21 points, and Moses Moody had a career-high 20 points.

Observations

  • Jakob Poeltl got the night off against the Suns to recover from back soreness, but the big man took a beating from the second the game started tonight. The Austrian center ended up sprawled on the floor on more than a few occasions throughout the first half, and he took an elbow to the nose from Jonathan Kuminga that gave the Spurs the ball but left him holding his face. While the seven-footer stayed on the court until halftime, he didn’t emerge from the tunnel to begin the third quarter.
  • Keldon Johnson has been prone to reckless drives throughout the early parts of his career, but the six-five slasher has gradually made progress as a passer as the season has unfolded. His development as a distributor has stood out as of late, and he flashed promise in that area in the first quarter. The third-year forward fired a perfect hammer pass to Derrick White for a corner three and followed it up with a gorgeous outlet to Dejounte Murray.
  • From LaMarcus Aldridge and DeMar DeRozan to Patty Mills and Rudy Gay, San Antonio has run into a handful of familiar faces through the first half of their schedule. And the Spurs welcomed Quinndary Weatherspoon back to the AT&T Center for the first time since they parted ways with him this Summer. Unfortunately for the Silver and Black alumnus, almost nothing went his way against his former club. Weatherspoon immediately turned the ball over after checking into the game, closed out too hard on the perimeter a few possessions later, coughed up the rock in traffic, and tripped Devin Vassell in transition. Though it was a rough night for San Antonio’s 2019 second-round pick, it was nice seeing him get another shot in elsewhere in the NBA.
  • There were probably several fans who had a rude awakening when they arrived at the AT&T Center only to find Steph Curry, Draymond Green, Klay Thompson, Andrew Wiggins, and Andre Iguodala were in street clothes for this matchup. Golden State entered the night without eight players due to injuries and rest, leaving them with a nine-man rotation against the Spurs. This highly calculated move harkened back to the good old days of Silver and Black basketball when they would intentionally sit Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili, and Tony Parker to save their legs for more pressing contests. Watching the Spurs being on the opposite end of one of their oldest traditions was honestly strange, but at least it gave the good guys a chance to make up some ground in the standings.
  • Lonnie Walker IV usually has one or two jaw-dropping athletic sequences each game, but the high-flying swingman gave us three ridiculous plays in quick succession during the third quarter. Walker got things started with a midair up-and-under finish, followed that up with a thunderous slam off a beautifully timed cut to the basket, and capped his highlight reel with an insane double-clutch layup that looked like it had no hope of falling.
  • Keita Bates-Diop cleared health and safety protocols earlier this week, and he made his first on-court appearance for the Spurs since January when he checked into the game midway through the third quarter. The 26-year-old forward understandably looked a step slow in his return, but he continued to contribute by keeping the ball moving, making sound decisions, and providing length in the passing lanes. He even made a timely cut for a poster jam inside the paint.
  • The Spurs entered the night with most of their roster intact, yet Josh Primo continued receiving rotation minutes. Fans speculated the Bryn Forbes trade was an attempt to free up playing time for the 19-year-old rookie, and while head coach Gregg Popovich dismissed that notion in a recent press conference, Primo has seen quite a bit of NBA action as of late. The Canadian guard only had six points in 19 minutes, but the fact he played over Tre Jones days after his second-year counterpart nearly carried the Spurs to a win in Phoenix speaks volumes about how much Pop already sees in his future.
  • It’s no secret Derrick White has struggled mightily from beyond the arc this season. The savvy combo guard showed promise as a long-distance shooter in each of his first four years in the league, but he has shot a career-worst 29.8% from three-point-land in 2020-2021. With that said, you would have no idea Derrick isn’t one of the best marksmen in the NBA if this was your first time tuning into a Spurs game. Derrick went 4-of-7 on trifectas and finished the game with 17 points and seven assists.
  • Although Devin Vassell has been fantastic in his second go-round in the NBA, the Florida State product had the misfortune of finding out he didn’t make the Rising Stars Game right before tipoff. Instead of forcing the issue or letting his disappointment get the best of him, the 21-year-old wing used the bad news as motivation to put forth one of his best shooting performances of the year. Vassell ended the contest with 14 points and proved nobody should overlook him when talking about the top backcourt players from the 2020 NBA Draft.
  • Head coach Steve Kerr told reporters in pregame media availability that he voted for Dejounte Murray to make the All-Star Game. And the 25-year-old point guard showed everyone why he deserves his first nod for the NBA’s annual midseason exhibition. The lanky floor general stuffed the stat sheet to the tune of 27 points, nine boards, nine assists, two steals, and one block, but his night was far from perfect as Dejounte recorded six turnovers. Keeping that in mind, Murray is probably the last player you would want to blame for this embarrassing loss, considering he was one of the only guys to step up down the stretch once San Antonio relinquished the lead. The Spurs have to find more help for their burgeoning star. He shouldn’t have to shoulder such an immense load on both ends of the court, and San Antonio will probably continue to flounder as long as they stretch him so incredibly thin.
  • The fourth quarter was a nightmare for the Spurs. Golden State outscored them 35-16 in the final frame, and there was a four-minute stretch where they went scoreless that allowed the Warriors back into the contest. Thematically, this fits relatively well with what we have seen from the Silver and Black throughout the season. I wish that made it more palatable, but losing a close game to a team with nine bodies available makes you want to bang your head against the wall. There will be better days ahead for this club. They have too many players who can help a team win when placed in a better context. And while some fans may not care about the loss column, each defeat gets San Antonio closer to a better lottery pick. Paolo Banchero, Chet Holmgren, and Jabari Smith Jr. remain out of PATFO range for now, but one lucky bounce of a ping pong ball could change the outlook of this proud franchise.

For the Warriors fans’ perspective, please visit Golden State of Mind.

The San Antonio Spurs are back in action on Thursday night as they make up their postponed matchup with Jimmy Butler and the Miami Heat.