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Dejounte Murray and the Spurs outlast the Rockets

The Spurs inch closer to the play-in tourney

NBA: San Antonio Spurs at Houston Rockets Thomas Shea-USA TODAY Sports

The Spurs kept their winning ways and finished a 4-game road trip with a 4-game winning streak. Dejounte Murray led all players and had a career-high 33 points with 11 assists and 7 rebounds. Keldon Johnson contributed 21 points and 9 rebounds while Jakob Poeltl notched a double-double with 17 points and 13 rebounds. The good guys withstood a barrage of three pointers from the Rockets to eke away with the win and close in on the last play-in spot.

Given how well Dejounte Murray has played this season, it’s somewhat of a surprise that he has not scored more than 33 points in his young career. On Monday night, he mixed in some long range shots with some aggressive play in the paint on his way to making 9 out of 12 free throws. As was the case all season, Murray also ran the Spurs offense to near perfection, maintaining his career-best 9.3 assists per game.

Keldon Johnson kept his nose to the grind and kept pounding away even when his three-point shot wasn’t falling like Spurs fans are used to. Johnson has slowly but surely become the second leading scorer on the team and his boundless energy play is infectious (the good kind) to the team.

On Monday night, it was three years to the day that the Spurs retired Manu Ginobili’s jersey. In honor of him, Keldon Johnson sacrificed his body to the basketball gods and came away with a hard-earned two. The spirit of El Contusión lives on with the Big Body.

You can’t stop this Dejounte Murray move, you can only hope to contain it. Is it a back court violation if the player’s arms are long enough to extend his hand and the ball past half court? I’m not arguing that it should be; it’s just amazing to see Murray’s wingspan and his ability to use it to keep opposing players from swiping the ball away. Whereas someone like Tony Parker had a different body build and had a tighter dribble, Murray has learned to use his length to his advantage when dribbling. Murray has also taken a page out of Parker’s playbook with his aggressive drives to the paint to generate points or sink in the defense to find an open player.

Keldon Johnson with a strong-armed, side-armed pass to an open Murray for the three pointer. Johnson was channeling some quarterback vibes as you’ll see in a later play. The Spurs did not fare well from three-point land, hitting only 7 out of 29 attempts, but this Murray three found its rightful home through the net.

Pretty fly move for the young rookie. Josh Primo made it drip with the soft teardrop. If you had told me at the beginning of the year that the Spurs would keep Primo away from Austin and he would end up starting 9 games for the team, I would have said, “You’re crazy. What’s next? Will Smith and Chris Rock would end up . . . ah never mind.”

Jason Richardson had a nice jump pass to Zach Collins underneath for the two-handed slam. The pass was on target as Collins basically served as a human backboard for the ball to go through the hoop. With Lonnie Walker out and Drew Eubanks dominating the Pacific Northwest, Richardson and Collins have been huge filling in.

Zach Collins’s right foot should get the assist here for Tre Jones’s quick bucket off the ricochet. I don’t make the rules, but if I did, it’s an assist only if the ball bounced off Collins’s right foot and Jones made the resulting bucket. It’s a very specific rule so don’t bother arguing the merits.

Respect Devin Vassell’s authoritah. Did you know South Park has been on the air since 1997? Do you know what else happened in 1997? The Phoenix Suns drafted Stephen Jackson with the 42nd overall pick in the second round. Captain Jack would end up helping the Spurs win the 2003 finals against the New Jersey Nets. The Finals MVP of that series was Tim Duncan, who was also drafted in 1997. And by the way, the Spurs drafted him at number one–in case no one knew. And now 25 years later, South Park is still running on the air. Life is crazy.

OK Josh Primo, now do that like 5x a game, for the next 20 years. OK thanks.

Keldon Johnson and Tre Jones doing their best Patrick Mahomes to Tyreek Hill down-the-seam, full-court pass for the touchdown.

For you Texas Tech alums and Kansas City Chiefs fans, let’s take a moment to remember the end of that era since Hill was recently traded to the Miami Dolphins.

And last but never least, the full-game highlights:

Next up, the Spurs finally return to the comfy confines of the AT&T Center to take on the Memphis Grizzlies on Wednesday, March 30, 2022.