On MIlitary Appreciation Night, the Spurs found that there weren’t enough (eight by the end of the evening) ‘next men up’ in the home loss to the visiting Pacers. Indiana attacked the rim relentlessly against the Spurs’ reserve bigs, while hitting a high amount of their open threes to overwhelm a tired Spurs squad. San Antonio (26-42) fell to 2-2 on its seven-game homestand.
With Dejounte Murray, Keldon Johnson, and Jakob Poeltl out, Jock Landale (26 points and 7 rebounds) had a career game, while Devin Vassell (19 points and 7 rebounds) and Lonnie Walker IV (20 points and 6 rebounds) tried valiantly to fill a sizable gap vacated by the missing starters. This time the Spurs were done in by cold outside shooting and a block party thrown by the Pacers’ bigs (ten in total).
Indiana reserve Duane Washington, Jr. (19 points), who hit his first six shots, supplied most of the first-half damage, while Tyrese Halliburton (19 points, 10 assists, and 3 steals), Chris Duarte (15 points and 8 rebounds) and Buddy Hield (17 points and 6 assists) outpaced their Spurs counterparts.
At game’s end, the 12th seeded Portland (25-40) led against Washington and 13th seeded Sacramento (24-44) trailed Utah.
- It’s only fitting that after getting 1336, Pop would try to do a Barry Sanders impression and avoid all manners of congratulations on the way back to the locker room. Conversely, all of us will recall how lovingly he sat courtside after 2014 game 5 and joyously took in the scene and watched his players celebrate. He has always been about getting over himself.
- Sean Elliott during the pre-game, as he and Bill Land went over the inactive list tonight, quipped “No TJ McConnell? GAME OVER! (for the Pacers)”
- The “funkiest looking shot club’s” card-carrying members: Halliburton, Josh Richardson, and Keita Bates-Diop all played tonight.
- Keldon’s Kitchen: Land noted “Keldon’s letting his clothing do the screaming tonight” as Keldon was resplendent in a lovely floral Hawaiian shirt.
- Love how fundamentally sound Zach Collins and Jock Landale are on the low block - being able to generate their own offense smoothly.
- Sequence of the Game #1: In the middle of a Pacers onslaught in the first period, Vassell attempted a drive into the paint and fumbled the ball over his head in traffic - right into Landale’s hands for a jumphook.
- Sequence of the Game #2: In the middle of a track meet that ensued at the start of the second period, Collins swatted away a Pacer attempt and Landale tipped home a miss in transition.
- Devin’s Deeds: The absence of the team’s leaders provided Vassell an opportunity to hunt his own opportunities with mixed results. In early action, he twice followed up his misses and came down with the caroms - netting a nice putback in the process. His ability to turn the corner on the baseline for highlight dunks continues to be breathtaking.
- ESPN Staff Writer Ohm Youngmisuk shared a compilation of stories yesterday from former and current players and NBA staff (you will need a tissue box or three) that capture a sense of the extent and depth of impact Pop has had on their lives.
- SI.com’s Howard Beck generated his own endearing appreciation piece for Pop today.
- The Spurs defense charted a steal and deflection in the first series of Indiana possessions. Doug McDermott got his right foot tangled under Oshae Brissett’s legs on a three attempt and sprained his ankle. The Pacer wings (Halliburton, Duarte, and Hield) showed off nice strokes from behind the arc. Collins and Landale netted several makes deep in the paint. San Antonio hit a cold spell late in the frame, but left it down only eight.
- Washington, Jr. swished three triples quickly to start the second, while Vassell, Walker IV, and Landale countered with their own bombs. The only respites from the furious scoring pace on a pair of unfortunate referee reviews that resembled soccer’s VAR weirdness. The first came when Collins and Isaiah Jackson were assessed technicals after a foul. A questionable foul call on Landale against Jackson (again) marred the pace of the game with a beyond lengthy review. San Antonio’s youngsters, capped by two layups by Landale, cobbled together 14 straight points to close within seven at the half.
- Jackson wreaked havoc on the Spurs’ interior defense, while Halliburton, Duarte, and Hield again launched away accurately from distance - allowing the Pacers to push their advantage to 19 midway through the third quarter. A number of open looks for the Spurs fell short or clanked off the side of the rim, and Indiana went into the fourth up 97-82.
- At the start of the fourth, Collins, Walker IV, and Richardson nailed threes to close the gap quickly to ten and bring a glimmer of hope. But the Pacers wore down San Antonio with its halfcourt execution - finding Hield for jumpers or their bigs at the front of the rim repeatedly. A trio of Vassell buckets cut into the deficit a bit. The teams’ offense stalled for several minutes, and Indiana salted the game away on a pair of Halliburton makes.
- Pop humorously was called for a Delay of Game warning for reaching in on an idling Hield trying to run out the clock.
For the Pacers fan’s perspective, please visit Indy Cornrows.
San Antonio takes on Karl-Anthony Towns and the Minnesota Timberwolves on Monday evening at 7:30 PM CT.