The San Antonio Spurs outlasted the shorthanded Washington Wizards in a high-scoring affair, 157-153, as they continued the Rodeo Road Trip with a nail-biter after a much-needed All-Star Break. The good guys were a bit rusty, but they showed the resolve to walk away with their first overtime victory of the season.
Keldon Johnson paced the Silver and Black with a season-high 32 points and seven rebounds, followed by 31 points, 13 boards, and 14 dimes from Dejounte Murray. Jakob Poeltl added 28 points, 11 rebounds, and eight assists. Kyle Kuzma led Washington with 36 points, eight rebounds, and seven assists.
- The Spurs acquired Tomas Satoransky at the trade deadline a few weeks ago, but the veteran combo guard never got the chance to suit up before the All-Star Break. With a handful of players on the sidelines, San Antonio called on the 30-year-old journeyman. Satoransky checked into the game with 3:14 remaining in the opening quarter and took a few minutes to get adjusted in his Silver and Black debut. He got to the free-throw line, kept the ball moving, and forced Rui Hachimura into a turnover in his first few minutes of action.
- San Antonio ranks at the bottom of the NBA in free throw attempts per game this season (18.6 FTA), though you wouldn’t have guessed that if you tuned into their last couple of contests. The Spurs have taken an average of 20.8 trips to the charity stripe since the trade deadline, and they had 19 attempts in the first half alone. They drew foul after foul the rest of the way, finishing the night with a season-high 43 free throws.
- Sean Elliott and Dan Weiss shared a hearty chuckle after saying “defense optional” in the second quarter, which is probably the most accurate way to describe the tone of this matchup. Both teams put more than 70 points on the scoreboard on nearly 60% shooting by halftime, and they looked like two clubs coming back from an extended vacation.
- Keldon Johnson picked up where he left off right before the All-Star Break, draining a trifecta of three-pointers in the first half, including an and-one over the outstretched arms of Kentavius Caldwell-Pope. The third-year forward didn’t create much offense, but he moved well without the ball, cutting to the basket, relocating for catch-and-shoot triples, and getting downhill off screens. Johnson put together one of his best performances to date, racking up 32 points and seven boards.
- Dejounte Murray performed with all the confidence of a man who just played in his first All-Star Game. The 25-year-old floor general dropped 20 points, eight rebounds, and eight assists on 8-of-10 shooting in the FIRST HALF. The Wizards held him in check for most of the second half, but he rediscovered his groove once the game came down to a pair of overtime periods. Murray finished with 31 points, 13 rebounds, and 14 assists, securing his 12th triple-double of the season.
- Jakob Poeltl may not have a jumper, but he has steadily turned himself into a versatile asset on the offensive end for San Antonio. The Austrian center thrives as a passer off simple reads, sets some of the best screens in basketball, and his offensive rebounding has given the Spurs an abundance of second-chance opportunities. All of those skills were on display against the Wizards as the sixth-year center recorded a Nikola Jokicesque box score of 28 points, 11 rebounds, and eight assists. And his ability to hit free throws when the Wizards resorted to Hack-a-Jak tactics down the stretch was the proverbial cherry on top.
- Though Silver and Black were missing Josh Richardson, Josh Primo, and Romeo Langford, this looked like a winnable game, especially with Bradley Beal and Kristaps Porzingis on the sidelines. However, as Spurs fans know all too well, role players always seem to shine when they face San Antonio. Ish Smith and Raul Neto combined for 25 points, eight boards, and 13 assists, as they had their way with an underwhelming Spurs defense.
- It was beginning to look like San Antonio would run away with the game when they built an 11-point lead early into the third quarter, but things quickly got out of hand as the Wizards went on a 23-13 run to close out the third quarter. Nine turnovers didn’t help their cause, but Lonnie Walker IV came swooping to the rescue with a buzzer-beater over Deni Avdija that gave the Spurs the lead and punctuated the period.
- Lonnie Walker IV has been an entirely different player since the Spurs traded Derrick White to the Boston Celtics. The 23-year-old shooting guard scored at least 17 points in San Antonio’s three games leading up to the All-Star Break, and he notched 23 points versus the Wizards. An uptick in responsibility usually leads to a dip in efficiency, but Lonnie has flipped the script. The fourth-year swingman has knocked down his shots at a 50.7% clip over his last four appearances.
- Head coach Gregg Popovich is now one win away from tying the all-time regular-season wins record, but the 73-year-old playcaller doesn’t need anything else to cement his place among the all-time greats. He is arguably the best coach in NBA history, enough said.
For the Wizards fans’ perspective, please visit Bullets Forever.
The San Antonio Spurs return to the hardwood tomorrow as they take on the Miami Heat in the penultimate matchup of the Rodeo Road Trip.