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Sochan scores a career-high 30 in crazy OT loss to the Suns

Sochan and Keldon score 30+ apiece but it’s not enough in comeback effort that went all the way to OT.

NBA: Phoenix Suns at San Antonio Spurs Scott Wachter-USA TODAY Sports

The San Antonio Spurs fought and fought like they always do but it wasn’t enough as Chris Paul, Mikal Bridges and the Phoenix Suns thwarted their comeback efforts in overtime.

The Spurs hit on 12 straight possessions in the fourth to have a shot to win the game at the end of regulation but they couldn’t hit on any of their 3 opportunities before the Suns took the game over in the extra five-minute period.

It was a slow start for the Spurs in their return to San Antonio after a three-game West Coast road trip. They were finding it difficult to get open shots and were having to rely on the free-throw line to generate any points. Keldon Johnson who had been up and down lately with his play was hitting some heroic shots to keep the game from getting out of hand. Jeremy Sochan who was back after a one-game absence with a quad contusion was combining well with the aforementioned Johnson to create a few nice plays to keep the score within two possessions by the quarter's end.

The Suns led 33-27 after one, but the second started with very little scoring and a load of sloppy play, with missed layups and unforced turnovers on show. Sochan was doing his all to try and keep the Spurs afloat. He was involved in everything on both ends, sometimes good and sometimes bad. Phoenix were only able to extend their lead by one at the half, they led 55-48.

The Silver & Black were pushing hard to begin the third but they couldn’t get within one possession due to their shoddy defense that was giving up easy baskets to the road team. They were finding more success on offense, scoring consistently without much trouble. It was then the Spurs two rookies, Sochan and Malaki Branham that were putting on a show - as at one time in the quarter they combined for 19 of the Spurs 25 points. Unfortunately, this didn’t mean the Spurs were closing in on the Suns lead, as the deficit actually got bigger due to Chris Paul putting in work in the mid-range and hitting jumper and jumper.

The Spurs went into the fourth down 87-76 but this didn’t stop them from fighting back as they got the lead down to five with six minutes to play. This is when the game got whacky, the crowd got rowdy and the Spurs started to show their poise. Keldon Johnson in particular was impressive in these final minutes, hitting a number of transition baskets before scoring an and-1 on DeAndre Ayton to tie the game up with under a minute to go. The Spurs then got a stop, and at 110 apiece with under 22 seconds to go had three chances to win the game. First Keldon missed a baby hook before Jakob rushed a put-back layup and then after a scramble for the ball, KJ got the rock back and had to force up a contested fadeaway jumper with the clock expiring that didn’t have a chance.

This was the closest the Spurs got to winning because in overtime Mikal Bridges took over the game, hitting some tough shots before forcing his way to the free-throw line for easy points. The game got away from the young Spurs and even with Keldon doing his all to try and give the home team a shot, Phoenix were just too much and they ran away winners 128-118.

Game notes

  • Jeremy Sochan. What a game by the rookie, the best of his young career so far. A career-high 30 points on 11-25 shooting, hitting three triples and nailing all five of his free-throws. He also had eight rebounds and five assists to go along with the points. Sochan was all over the court, putting in work and making things happen. He is so much more confident now than earlier in the season and you can tell by how aggressively he is attacking the rim and creating shots for himself. Defensively he bothered CP3 to the point where the Suns were actively setting screens to get Jeremy switched off Paul. The ceiling for this kid is endless.
  • Keldon Johnson. After some criticism lately (including from me), Keldon responded with one of his best all-around games in a while. 34 points on 15-26 shooting with three triples, five assists, three rebounds and most impressively ZERO turnovers. KJ was a huge part of the comeback and was the only one who could score in OT - scoring all eight of the Spurs points in the extra period.
  • 0-34. With this loss the Spurs now are 0-34 when trailing by 10+ points at any point in a game. Surely this gets broken before the seasons end . . . surely right?

Play of the game

This is what I meant when I wrote “This is when the game got whacky, the crowd got rowdy and the Spurs started to show their poise”.

Next game: Vs Washington Wizards on Monday

The Spurs stay at the AT&T Center to take on the middle-of-the-road Washington Wizards. This is a good chance for the Spurs to break their five-game losing streak.