In the first game of the NBA In Season Tournament for the Spurs, they drew a tough opponent in the streaking Minnesota Timberwolves, who had won their last four game coming in. The good guys had a great start tonight, and played well enough in the first 24 minutes to only be trailing by a bucket at halftime. Unfortunately, things got a little away from the home team after halftime as the Timberwolves slowed down the Spurs with a zone defense and force turnovers to get a 17 point lead with one quarter left.
The Spurs were going to need a fantastic finish to pull out a win, and for about half of the final quarter, that seemed like it wasn’t going to happen. But never doubt fourth quarter Wembanyama. The Spurs stepped up their game in the final six minutes and made it a contest with spectacular defensive plays and finally getting Victor into the offense. The Spurs cut the lead to six with four minutes left and made it interesting until a few unfortunate San Antonio turnovers blunted the Spurs comeback as the Wolves won 117-110.
It was an encouraging game for the Spurs as they played much better than the last couple of games, and a great game from Devin Vassell and a bounceback game from Victor Wembanyama. But the third quarter sag was costly as they Spurs dug a hole that was too big to climb out of to win the game. If this young team begins to clean things up, this is the kind of games that they can win. For now, just being competitive is a huge improvement.
- I thought the In Season Tournament court was going to be tough on the eyes, but it was actually pretty pleasing to look at, and the lines were pretty easy to see, so it probably won’t be a big factor in how the game is played.
- The In Season Tournament (IST) is something that is just too complicated for casual fans to get into, and the group stage is going to just be regular season games for most people. But the knockout stages are going to be fantastic to watch.
- After the terrible tentative start of the last couple of games, the Spurs started off with some fire tonight, with Zach Collins playing well and Wembanyama contributing on both ends. The only blemishes were a couple of unforced errors from Sochan, who forgot how to dribble for a moment. He made up for it later with some defense, and hustling to put back an offensive rebound.
- Devin Vassell looked a little rusty in the game against the Knicks, but he looked silky smooth to start the game tonight. The Spurs play a lot better on offense when he’s on the court.
- The change in the challenge rule is a big deal, as teams can now challenge an obviously bad call early in the game and still have one in reserve. The only change I’d suggest is that you should be able to keep challenging until you lose one. No reason to penalize a team because the refs make multiple bad calls.
- The Spurs shooting cooled off a bit towards the end of the first, and led 27-22 after the first.
- When Wembanyama is under the basket on defense, it’s like there’s a lid on it. The Timberwolves just turned back instead of taking shots. Imagine how good he’s going to be once he figures out the game.
- This looked like a different team tonight than what we saw in the last couple of contests. The energy was up, the passes were crisp, and you could tell the guys were having fun. I think this team is going to be up and down all year, but the ups are a lot of fun.
- Conley has always been great, but how is it that he’s still getting better in his 17th year in the league? He can get up shots in the paint, but he’s also made himself into a really good three-point shooter.
- The Wolves have a great starting lineup, but they also have very solid bench players. Naz Reid could start for a lot of teams, and he does great work for them. The Spurs bench, except for Doug McDermott and Tre Jones isn’t as good, yet. There are a lot of guys like Branham who are going to be good someday, but are still learning to play on an NBA level.
- Anthony Edwards was pretty quiet in the first half, but he heated up late in the second quarter with a pair of triples to give the Wolves their first lead of 48-46 with 3:04 left in the half. He finished the half with 12, after only scoring 4 in the first 20+ minutes of the game.
- Goggles Kyle Anderson is the worst Kyle Anderson.
- The Spurs looked a little flat coming out at halftime, and Pop had to give them an early timeout after a couple of unforced turnovers allowed the T-Wolves to get to a quick lead. The discombobulation continued through much of the third as Minnesota’s zone confounded the Spurs offense that went stagnant as the their lead swelled to 16 early in the third.
- Wembanyama jumps at shot fakes too much. He’ll learn not to do that eventually, and he’ll become impossible to get into foul trouble.
- As bad as the third quarter was for the Silver and Black (or orange and brown), it would have been worse without Tre Jones hustling and making plays when no one else was able to get anything done.
- Lobbing the ball up high to Victor Wembanyama near the basket seems like a good play.
- The Spurs missed 7 free throws, and they lost by 7 points. Maybe free throws are important.
The Spurs have lost four game in a row and their record is now 3-6, and they are 0-1 in the In-Season Tournament. Their next game is against the Miami Heat on Sunday, November 12, at 6:00 PM Central at the Frost Back Center.