Before tonight, the Spurs hadn’t won a game after falling behind by 10 points or more. After falling behind by 13 in the second half, that record looked like an impermeable barrier to another Silver and Black win, but with Jeremy Sochan and Keldon Johnson going crazy in the fourth, the Spurs had a chance, and tied up the game late, sending it to overtime. Chris Paul took over the game in the extra time, and the Suns outscored the Spurs 18-10 in OT to propel them to a 128-118 win on the road.
Jeremy Sochan had his best game as a pro, with 30 points and a large portfolio of spectacular plays. Keldon Johnson had 34, and led the charge that almost won the game for the Silver and Black. The Spurs, while they lack elite talent, are acquiring the grit and resilience to win tough games. If the Spurs had managed to grab one more rebound or make another stop at the right point of the contest, this was the kind of game where a more experienced team could steal a win. It was a learning experience, and the Silver and Black learned one more lesson about winning by losing tonight. It was the kind of night where you start to think that’s only a matter of time before this team finally starts figuring things out and goes on a run. Hopefully next season, after they add a high draft pick to the roster.
The Spurs started the game off on the right track, with Tre Jones drawing a foul on Chris Paul on the first possession, but the Spur were cold as the Suns rushed out to a 9-3 lead behind the offense of Mikal Bridges and DeAndre Ayton while the Spurs missed their first 7 shots. A hook shot from Jakob Poeltl took the lid off the basket, and the Spurs went on a mini run to tie it up at 11, unfortunately negated by a 8-0 run by the Suns. It was kind of chaotic first quarter, but the Silver and Black kept in it, and trailed 33-26 after one quarter of play.
The Spurs played with energy in the second quarter, but the Suns outshot them and played more efficiently for most of the quarter, leading by as much at a dozen until the Silver and Black made it a little more respectable with Keldon Johnson hitting tough shots and Keita Bates-Diop pitching in, with the Spurs behind 55-48 in a low-scoring first half.
Cam Johnson shone for the Suns early in the third, and he and Ayton extended the Phoenix lead back to a dozen. The Spurs picked up their defense, and with Sochan disrupting the game on both ends of the court, his aggressiveness brought the Spurs back to within 4. The superannuated Chris Paul took over for the Suns to finish out the quarter, and he propelled them to 87-76 lead with 12 minutes to play.
The final quarter started on a questionable foul call on Doug McDermott as Josh Okogie slipped down and stepped on Doug’s foot, and somehow was awarded two free throws. The Spurs fought back, and with a steal and faaaaasssst break layup from Tre Jones, the Spur had cut the lead under 10 again, and were looking like a team that knew how to close out a game. It was kind of chaotic, but the next thing you know, the Spurs were within 5 points with half of the quarter done, and had the Suns reeling. Chris Paul did his best, and with a prayer shot that went in for the Suns by Torrey Craig to give them a four point lead, the Spurs kept coming back with Sochan rising to the challenge. Speaking of challenges, a successful challenge of a Sochan foul on Paul kept the game within a point with a minute left. The Spurs tied up the game at 110 on a Keldon Johnson and one with 47 seconds left, and after a stop, the Spurs had one shot to win it. The Spurs still had opportunities to win in regulation, but all their shots rimmed out as the game went into overtime.
Chris Paul took over for the Suns in overtime, assisting and scoring the first two buckets for Phoenix. Then Mikal Bridges took over and before you knew it, the Suns had a 7 point lead with a minute left in overtime. Keldon Johnson was unstoppable for the Spurs, but the lack of stops on the other end were costly, as the Spurs ended up losing by 10 as time ran out.
- The game started off with no audio my local broadcast, which was annoying. I’m not sure if it was the local station or the broadcast team’s fault, but this stuff shouldn’t happen for a professional sports organization.
- Blake Wesley got into the game in the first quarter, which might be the earliest he’s every checked into a game for the the NBA Spurs. Just looking at him on the court, he really looks slight compared to a lot of the other players, and he could definitely stand to add some muscle in the off season this summer.
- Sochan, despite being a rookie, has become the second most important player on the team on offense, and the most important player on the other end of the court. It’s amazing that Pop has really given the kid so much to handle this early in his career.
- Bismack Biyombo got some extended playing time when Ayton picked up two early fouls and played well. He’s always been a talented big, but he’s knocked around a lot in his career, and maybe the Suns might be a great place for him to finish it off.
- George Karl was the guest for the Spurs broadcast, and it was great to hear from him. He made light of his health issues, saying he was back at his playing weight, but he seems to be on the mend. He’s one of the league’s great characters, and I’m glad he’s still with us.
- Josh Okogie is wearing a mask to protect his broken nose, but it really makes him look like the Odo character (played by Rene Aberjonois) on Deep Space Nine in the Star Trek universe. No really, Google it!
- DeAndre Ayton is developing into the type of player the Suns thought they were going to get when they drafted him first overall. He took a few years to develop, but he’s in full effect now.
- I make fun of Chris Paul for being old, but even though he’s slowing down, he’s still pretty amazing. He’s so efficient with him movement that he sometimes looks like he’s not exerting himself that hard, but he still makes plays that are astounding like effortlessly blocking Sochan on a drive to the basket, ruining the fast break. That wasn’t the only time he disrupted the Spurs, he constantly got into the passing lanes on defense and hitting tough shots to blunt the Spurs third quarter comeback.
- Michelle Beadle has figured the correct balance of paying attention to the game and being silly and funny, and she’s finally to the point where she adds more to the experience of game watching that she detracts while commenting.
For the Suns fans’ perspective, please visit Bright Side of the Sun. This is the first night of a four game homestand for the Silver and Black before the annual road trip, their next game is on Monday against the Wizards.
The Spurs are currently stuck in 14th place the western conference, and still on course for a 14% chance at the top pick in the 2023 NBA draft. They are currently fourth from the bottom in wins, but the Hornets are looking like a threat to win some games soon.