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San Antonio vs. Charlotte, Final Score: Spurs come up short against Hornets, 123-117

Keldon Johnson’s career-high 33 not enough as Spurs drop fourth-straight.

NBA: San Antonio Spurs at Charlotte Hornets Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports

The San Antonio Spurs dropped their fourth in a row on Saturday, hanging tight with the Charlotte Hornets but unable to come out on top in a 123-117 road loss.

Keldon Johnson set a new career high with 33 points to go along with eight rebounds. Dejounte Murray was a rebound shy of a triple double with 25 points, 10 assists and nine boards.

LaMelo Ball and Terry Rozier led the way for Charlotte, combining for 55 points, 13 assists and 13 rebounds.

Observations

  • It feels a little cruel of the NBA that, after an eight-game road stand, the Spurs got ONE game at home before having to head out on the road again. The team will play in seven-straight home games after tonight, but I think it might’ve been better to keep all the road games and all the home games together. Did they even have time to unpack before that Kings game?
  • Charlotte set the tempo of the game from the get-go. The Hornets really wanted to push the ball in transition and find open looks early in the shot clock. It worked to the Spurs’ advantage as San Antonio scored 11 points on the fast break in the first quarter and held Charlotte to 3. That’s pretty standard for the Spurs as they are tied for seventh in the league averaging 13.7 fast break points per game. The pace was especially beneficial to Keldon Johnson, who erupted for 23 points in the first half.
  • The Hornets had a strong counterpunch in LaMelo Ball. In Charlotte’s last game, a win against the Cleveland Cavaliers, Ball got into foul trouble and played just eight minutes, scoring two points. The 6-foot-7 point guard made up was making up for lost time throughout the first half, lighting San Antonio up for 13 points. If Ball couldn’t free himself open, he usually dished it to Montrezl Harrell, who crushed every mismatch he got in the post and finished the first half with 12 points.
  • Something seemed kind of about Dejounte Murray, who had an uncharacteristically slow start. I’m not sure if it was that he was having trouble going up against LaMelo’s size or if his shot just wasn’t falling but he definitely seemed a bit in his head a little bit, going 3-10 from the field in the first half. He started getting back into a rhythm a bit by getting to the free throw line.
  • Keldon kept cooking in the third quarter, pouring on another 10 points. Big Body eclipsed his career high with a 3-pointer at the 2:31 mark, leaving him an extra 14 minutes to build it even higher.
  • Zach Collins picked up a technical foul for slamming a ball into the stanchion and I contend that it’s truly one of the lamest ways to pick up a technical foul.
  • Josh Primo was quietly very important on the bench. He wasn’t necessarily filling up the stat sheet and never went on a crazy burner, but he kept making timely plays that really helped the Silver and Black stay in the game. He was impacting the game by more than just scoring, too — on one play in the fourth quarter, the Spurs swung him the ball on the left win. Primo missed the shot, but got his own board and kicked it to Jakob Poeltl down low for a bucket. He kept the offensive boards coming in crunch time. It was a very mature performance by the rookie.
  • It is soul-crushing to see the Spurs play good enough defense to win games and still not be able to find enough buckets in the clutch to get the job done. After a 37-point third quarter, San Antonio scored just 20 in the fourth, suffering their fourth-straight loss. Keldon scored zero points in the final 12 minutes. No one aside from Dejounte had more than one field goal. The Spurs are just allergic to offense in the fourth.

For the Hornets fans’ perspective, visit At the Hive.

The Spurs are finally returning home for an extended homestand, beginning with LeBron James and the Lakers. Tipoff will be at 7:30 PM CT at Bally Sports SW-SA.