After two straight impressive victories in back to back nights the San Antonio Spurs came into Chicago hoping to extend their winning streak to three. Unfortunately, they ran into an old foe, DeMar DeRozan, who is in the midst of a career stretch and the Spurs couldn’t slow him down as he went for 40 points in a fourth quarter comeback.
Although, it wasn’t DeMar who got off to a hot start with teammate, Coby White, scoring the first eight points for the home side. For the Spurs, it was Doug McDermott who was able to keep up with White’s strong start, as he had the first seven for the Silver & Black. Defensively San Antonio were giving space around the perimeter in order to pack the paint, but the Bulls were content with taking the open jumpers, and were hitting them at a high clip. When DeRozan went to the bench the Bulls fed Nikola Vucevic the ball and he went to work from the midrange and in the post against the Spurs backup big, Zach Collins. Lonnie Walker IV came into the game feeding off the momentum that he ended the Pelicans game with by bringing some quick fire scoring to the contest, even hitting a few Iso jumpers. Chicago had a slim two-point margin after one.
Their lead didn’t last long because the Spurs went on a quick 5-0 run that forced Billy Donovan into an early timeout. Keldon Johnson and Walker were lighting it up in the second, getting any shot they wanted, but the Bulls had a counter in their All-Star starter, DeMar DeRozan. The former Spur was slowly starting to take over the game and even had a pair of dunks, including a vicious one on Jakob Poeltl. After the two dunks the crowd’s atmosphere increased and so did the pace of the game. Dejounte Murray was thriving in this stretch of play by getting out in transition and making the right read every time. The Bulls held the same margin as the end of the first going into half-time.
Dejounte was orchestrating early in the third period, finding the trailer in transition and then the pocket pass in the pick-and-roll. He was allowing for easy looks for his teammates as the Spurs looked to capitalize on a slow Bulls start. DeMar though, was not looking to slow down from his second quarter spurt and his mid-range jumper was looking unstoppable. Lonnie who has a habit of lighting it up in one half before going quiet the next was determined not to do that again. He continued his hot game by staying aggressive and picking his spots to attack at the perfect time. Neither team was able build a solid lead in this physical, competitive contest. The Spurs did get good Keita Bates-Diop minutes in the second-half with the second-year Spur cutting at the right moments on offense, finishing strong at the cup and jumping passing lanes on defense. This helped give the Silver & Black a slight lead going into the fourth; 89-83.
That lead would not last too long into the final frame because the Bulls pulled within one, two minutes into the fourth with DeMar and Vucevic handling the scoring load. DeRoan then went crazy on his former team by scoring 10 straight for the Bulls. The Spurs could only do one thing and that was give it to their All-Star, Dejounte Murray to help keep Chicago from pulling away. DJ was able to get to the rim a few times and he finished well through contact. The home team held a two-point lead with two minutes to go. But for San Antonio that was the closest it would come because after a foul on DeMar that sent him to the line for two, the Spurs then gave the ball away the next possession which led to a transition layup which all but ended the contest. The Bulls tightened up their defense forcing a few more turnovers and tough shots to eventually win by double digits; 120-109.
- DeMar DeRozan. DeMar put up 40 points on his former team as he had his way with the Spurs to extend his run of 35+ point games to six. There was a point in the second-half where it didn’t matter what San Antonio did to stop him, he was going to make a shot anyway. They doubled him in the 4th to get the ball out of his hands but he stayed calm and made the right pass or forced a foul to get to the line. The Silver & Black shouldn’t feel too bad because DeRozan has been doing this to everybody all season long, and especially the last few weeks. It’s always great to see a former Spur thriving in their current circumstances, hopefully he can get that ring he so desperately deserves.
- Trouble on the Boards. 53 to 33. This has been a problem all season long, the Spurs just don’t have enough size to compete on the boards. It says it all that point-guard, Dejounte Murray, is second on the team in rebounds, only 0.6 off Jakob Poeltl in first. Beyond their centers, Jakob, Zach & Jock, San Antonio just don’t have much size, especially at the wing/forward positions. With the trade deadline passed and no players coming back from injury this will likely be a problem the Spurs will have to face for the rest of the season
- DNP-CD. Josh Richardson and Romeo Langford were both available for the game against Chicago, but neither played. This was mentioned by Pop in his pre-game presser saying that they would suit up but not get any game time and the reason why is because “he doesn’t even know their names”. This was tongue and cheek by Pop as he was practically saying that as they have just joined the team he doesn’t want to rush them out their too soon. With the All-Star break only one game away it seems like it would make sense for Coach Pop to give them the break to settle into the team, learn the schemes and plays before putting them into the rotation post the All-Star game. A little bit of patience may be needed before we see the two additions from the Derrick White trade see the floor for San Antonio.
Play of the Game
This was a fun play, Dejounte on his former teammate and good friend, DeMar.
Spurs Valuable Player (SVP)
3rd place (1 point): Doug McDermott | 29mins, 19 points, 4 rebounds, 3/5 from three
McBuckets got off to a hot start, scoring the Spurs first seven points. From then on the Bulls paid close attention to the sharpshooter which allowed Doug to attack closeouts and get to the rim. These are the type of games the front office brought him here for, his shooting opens up the floor for others and his and Dejounte’s chemistry in the full-court is getting better by the game.
2nd place (2 points): Dejounte Murray | 36mins, 19 points, 11 assists, 6 rebounds, 2 steals
After the best two-game stretch of his career where he had back to back 30+ point, 10+ assist games, Dejounte followed it up with another solid effort. His efficiency fell off a bit in the game against Chicago but he still made his impact known and was very aggressive in his drives to the rim, embracing contact and even finishing with it.
1st place (3 points): Lonnie Walker IV | 26mins, 21 points, 5 rebounds, 9/17 from the field
Lonnie Walker IV was electric in this game, he brought a ton of energy off the bench and was confident with his shooting. He had two thunderous dunks and looked the best he has in a while. These are the games that make people a Lonnie believer, he is so talented and has such natural athletic gifts. When he plays like his did against the Bulls it just looks so easy for him out there. With the two new wing additions to the team this may be the spark Lonnie needed to start being consistent with this level of play.
1st - Dejounte Murray - 92pts
2nd - Jakob Poeltl & Derrick White- 51pts
3rd - Devin Vassell - 38pts
4th - Keldon Johnson - 37pts
5th - Lonnie Walker IV - 24pts
6th - Doug McDermott - 15pts
7th - Bryn Forbes - 12pts
8th - Thaddeus Young - 11pts
9th - Keita Bates-Diop - 5pts
10th - Jock Landale - 4pts
11th - Josh Primo - 3pts
12th - Drew Eubanks & Tre Jones - 2pts
13th - Devontae Cacok - 1pt
Next Game: @ Oklahoma on Wednesday
San Antonio finish the first part of their rodeo road trip before the All-Star break against the Oklahoma City Thunder. The Spurs are currently 2-2 on the road trip and will look to bring some momentum going into the mini break.