The San Antonio Spurs lost an overtime thriller against the Phoenix Suns on Saturday night as they fell agonizingly short of their first double-figure comeback of the season. Though the youngsters failed to gift head coach Gregg Popovich a victory on his birthday, they will have a chance to make it up to him when they host the white-hot Washington Wizards.
Keldon Johnson and Jeremy Sochan are fresh off 30-point performances in their previous outing, and they will look to maintain their momentum as the Silver and Black reach the middle of their four-game homestand. The Wizards are on a five-game winning streak with their stars healthy for the first time in forever, so buckle up for another 48-minute slugfest.
San Antonio Spurs (14-36) vs. Washington Wizards (23-26)
January 30, 2022 | 7:00 PM CST
Watch: Bally Sports Southwest | Listen: WOAI (1200 AM)
Spurs: Dominick Barlow (Out — Two-Way), Charles Bassey (Out — Two-Way), Devin Vassell (Out — Knee), Romeo Langford (Questionable — Adductor), Josh Richardson (Probable — Knee)
Wizards: Jordan Goodwin (Out — Two-Way), Isaiah Todd (Out — On Assignment), Johnny Davis (Out — On Assignment), Anthony Gill (Out — Health and Safety Protocols)
What To Watch For
- Kristaps Porzingis, Bradley Beal, and Kyle Kuzma are one of the strangest trios in the NBA. Though they are fascinating individual talents, their fit on the hardwood is suspect. Combining for 66.1 points per game looks terrific on paper, but those numbers have produced mediocre results, leaving the Wizards hovering around play-in tournament territory with a 23-26 record. In all fairness, a persistent hamstring injury forced Beal onto the sidelines for multiple extended spells earlier this season, delaying the vital rotation minutes essential for building chemistry with his costars. Despite the All-NBA swingman displaying some rust in his latest return, head coach Wes Unseld Jr. has his team on a five-game winning streak as his leading men are learning to operate in unison. Between the three-level scoring of Beal, the supersized floor spacing of Porzingis, and the well-rounded arsenal of Kuzma, San Antonio has another defensive challenge ahead of them.
- Jeremy Sochan has been on a phenomenal developmental curve over his last six matchups, averaging 18.2 points, 6.5 rebounds, and 3.0 assists on .500/.556/.864 shooting splits. While the rookie encountered some tough sledding at the beginning of the new year, he has flourished as the Spurs’ second option in recent weeks. He notched a career-high 30 points, eight boards, and five dimes in an overtime loss to Phoenix on Saturday, putting his rapid offensive maturation front and center. Sochan attacked the hoop in transition, lost his defenders on backdoor cuts, pulled up off the dribble from the elbows, drained post fadeaways, capitalized on mismatches and undisciplined closeouts, and connected on a trifecta of stationary three-pointers. Gregg Popovich has encouraged the 19-year-old forward to stay aggressive as a scorer, and Sochan has responded well to that challenge. San Antonio has one more game before the calendar flips to February, but another tremendous performance might make Sochan the favorite to take home Western Conference Rookie of the Month.
- San Antonio snagged the third-worst record in the NBA on Sunday, which could make things interesting, especially with the trade deadline creeping around the corner. Gregg Popovich explicitly stated his disdain for tanking last season, but the circumstances have changed drastically now that this ball club is locked in a three-way tie for the best lottery odds. The Spurs are more than 20 games below .500 for the first time in a quarter century, and they desperately need a cornerstone talent they can build a franchise around. Josh Richardson, Doug McDermott, Stanley Johnson, and Gorgui Dieng have been invaluable veterans for a team navigating a rebuild, but there’s a chance none of them will be donning Silver and Black in the next year or so. As for young prospects like Blake Wesley, Charles Bassey, and Dominick Barlow, fans will presumably see them stick around until PATFO determine what they have in them. Given that context, it might be time for the older leaders on the team to take a backseat to their project players.
For the Wizards fans’ perspective, please visit Bullets Forever.
The Game Thread will be up this evening for those who want to chat through the game. You can also follow along with the action on PtR’s Twitter feed.