On the night Gregg Popovich became the All-Time winningest coach the San Antonio Spurs had to fight through adversity to do so, but like he had done 1,135 times before, Coach Pop steered the team to victory. The Utah Jazz were the unlucky team on the other side of this historic night, after they blew a 15-point fourth quarter lead.
The visitors started scorching hot from the outside, hitting four of their first five attempts. The Silver & Black were at least able to keep them out of the paint, using active hands and collapsing inside. The Spurs were a bit shorthanded for the game, with Doug McDermott, Josh Primo, Romeo Langford, Keita Bates-Diop & Devontae Cacok all out. This meant that they only had 10 available players causing Coach Pop to have to be creative with his lineups. The second unit was lacking size on defense and Rudy Gobert & Hassan Whiteside were feasting underneath the basket, but San Antonio’s backup center, Zach Collins, was making a difference on the other end, by stretching the floor and knocking down two triples. The Spurs were only down three after one; 33-30.
To start the second, Dejounte Murray and Jordan Clarkson were entrenched in a scoring duel — Clarkson hitting shots from three, while Murray was nailing his patented mid-range jumpers. After a few great defensive possessions where the home team blocked numerous shots, Keldon Johnson went down the other end and hit an AND-1 that gave the Spurs the lead. Unfortunately, this made Donovan Mitchell mad because he started to take over the game, scoring from all levels and garnering all of San Antonio’s defensive attention. The All-Star helped create a nine-point lead for the Jazz at the half; 59-50.
The third quarter was possibly a nominee for the worse played quarter of the season for any game. A combined 29 points, a whole bunch of turnovers and just generally sluggish play. If the second half of the period didn’t make up for the first half, it could have gone down as the lowest combined scoring quarter ever, with just six combined points in the first seven minutes. The Jazz offense eventually woke up and moved the ball better which gave them a ten-point lead going into the final frame; 74-64.
Out of the blocks the Spurs were fighting hard to get back into the game, but lots of whistles and stoppages were slowing the pace of the contest. Dejounte Murray wasn’t going to let this stop him by getting to his spot and knocking down jumper after jumper. He eventually levelled the game up with five minutes left to play. Both teams went back and forth trading buckets trying to get a bit of breathing room from their opposition. But after Lonnie Walker IV was fouled from three with just over a minute to go, the Spurs took a one-point lead. The Silver & Black got a stop before a Jakob Poeltl pop-a-shot extended their lead by two. It became a free throw contest late, but the Spurs made just enough freebies to close out the 104-102 win and giving Coach Pop the record breaking win.
- Gregg Charles Popovich. 1,336 wins, the most of all-time and doing so in nearly 400 games less than his predecessors. 26 seasons, five NBA championships, if there was ever a question of the greatest of all time, there surely won’t be now.
The best there is,— Zach (@zachcolwellPtR) March 12, 2022
The best there was,
The best there ever will be.
- Fourth Quarter Comeback. Back to the game, it should not be forgotten that the Spurs came back from 15 points down in the fourth quarter to win. It was their first win all season when starting the fourth quarter behind, they were 0-33 before this game. They just never quit. Not once did they put their heads down even through the rough stretches, always believing their time would come to make a run. When that time came, they played mentally tough, hit their shots and defended as a unit. Hopefully this is the kick start the Spurs needed to be able to win more close games down the stretch.
- Play-In Update. San Antonio are 1 game out of the 10th seed with 15 games to play.
Play of the Game
Not a play, just a moment in history.
Spurs Valuable Player (SVP)
3rd place (1 point): Zach Collins | 19mins, 15 points, 5 rebounds, 3 assists, 1 block, 2 threes
Zach Collins had his best performance in a Spurs jersey with his display against the Jazz. Going up against physical centers such as Gobert and Whiteside isn’t an easy task but Collins played his part. He stretched the floor on offense pulling the Jazz bigs out to the perimeter and on defense he wasn’t afraid to get physical.
2nd place (2 points): Jakob Poeltl | 29mins, 15 points, 11 rebounds, 2 blocks, game best +11
Both of the Spurs centers were up for the challenge against Utah, with Jakob providing some scoring but more importantly rebounding and defense. He was a game best +11 and it showed as he made it difficult for Rudy Gobert all night long. He hit a few huge free throws down the stretch and then nailed the dagger pop-a-shot to give the Spurs a three-point lead with 30 seconds to play.
1st place (3 points): Dejounte Murray | 37mins, 27 points, 9 rebounds, 4 assists, 5 steals
If it wasn’t for Dejounte’s 15 fourth-quarter points there would have been no comeback, and no Pop record. He was marvelous in the final quarter, scoring at will from the mid-range, taking the game into his own hands. He stepped up defensively in the second-half after Donovan Mitchell had 18 in the first as well. DJ took the assignment and Mitchell struggled, only scoring six points in the final 24 minutes.
1st - Dejounte Murray - 104pts
2nd - Jakob Poeltl - 61pts
3rd - Derrick White- 51pts
4th - Keldon Johson - 48pts
5th - Devin Vassell- 42pts
6th - Lonnie Walker IV - 31pts
7th - Doug McDermott - 16pts
8th - Bryn Forbes - 12pts
9th - Thaddeus Young - 11pts
10th - Tre Jones - 7pts
11th - Keita Bates-Diop - 6pts
12th - Jock Landale - 4pts
13th - Josh Primo & Josh Richardson - 3pts
14th - Drew Eubanks - 2pts
15th - Devontae Cacok & Zach Collins - 1pt
Next Game: Vs Indiana on Saturday
Not much time to celebrate for the Spurs as the Indiana Pacers come to town for the second half of the back-to-back. With Pop’s record now in the bag, San Antonio can start to focus on getting into the play-in with 15 games to go.