Oh boy, what a time to be a Spurs fan.
Over the past 48 hours, the team played in two games that are both similar yet also polar opposites. Following a wild last-second comeback off the
back biceps of Big Body Johnson, the San Antonio Spurs almost conceded a 20-point lead of their own on Thursday night before regaining their composure to sweep the two-game mini-series against the Suns on the road.
Right from tip-off, Phoenix still seemed to be in shock by their collapse on Tuesday night, as it took them almost four minutes to get on the scoresheet. Even with Devin Booker back, the home team had trouble getting good looks, and San Antonio purposefully ignored some of Phoenix’s role players in favor of sending extra help to Booker and Kevin Durant. On the other end, the Spurs had an easy time generating open looks with the Suns’ defense out of sorts, allowing them to hit eight threes in the first quarter alone.
Up by 20 for most of the game, this young Spurs team should be given plenty of credit for not taking their foot off the gas. For a brief stretch in the second quarter, San Antonio either forced up a bad shot or turned the ball over on four consecutive possessions, which allowed the Suns to go on a small run. However, the feisty Spurs kept their composure by slowing down the pace and executing some set plays, allowing them to maintain their large lead.
Of course, it also helps to have a 7-foot-4 alien capable of making threes as if they’re layups, which allowed San Antonio to regain their 20-point advantage.
Things started to get tight in the fourth quarter, though, even after the Spurs entered the frame up by 14. Booker caught fire and hit a number of tough shots — to no fault of San Antonio’s defense — while also making plays for his teammates, and the Footprint Center came alive after the fans were silent for most of the night. On offense, the Spurs started to look out of sync, as the ball movement wasn’t as crisp and shots were forced with the clock winding down. Slowly but surely, Phoenix began chiseling away at the Spurs’ double-digit lead, eventually tying the game up at 116.
From that point on, though, San Antonio flipped a switch and regained their composure. Jeremy Sochan, in particular, made huge plays down the stretch by blocking Booker while the game was still within Phoenix’s reach before assisting this three from Victor Wembanyama that essentially sealed the win.
After the score was tied at 116, the Spurs went on a 10-0 run and ended the game by outscoring Phoenix 16-5. Pulling off the win was especially impressive given that the momentum had seemingly shifted completely in favor of the home team, and the Suns didn’t lead for a single second of the game.
It’s only two games, to be sure, but completing a 20-point comeback in the final seconds on Tuesday before sealing the win tonight after conceding the same lead speaks highly of this team’s resiliency and ability to bounce back — especially considering their 40-point loss just a few days ago. The Spurs may be young and still rebuilding, but they’ve let the league know that there will be no easy victories when they’re facing San Antonio.
- Wemby had his best game thus far by dropping 38 points on 15-26 shooting and 3-6 from deep. He also grabbed 10 boards and blocked two shots — making him only the third ever teenager to post those numbers, along with Durant and LeBron James — and it’s evident that both opponents and his own teammates are still not used to playing with/against someone who warps the court so much, both vertically and horizontally. Wemby’s shot was obviously falling today but he still forced up a number of unnecessarily tough attempts, which is scary to think about since it means that he still has a vast amount of growth left.
- Devin Vassell played just 16:51 in the contest and was nowhere to be seen in the second half. Tom Osborn reported that he had left groin tightness and could be out for a few games, which would be unfortunate given that he was having one of his best games of the early season. The 23-year-old scored 17 points in the first half alone on 7-10 from the field and a perfect 3-3 from deep while also playing sold man defense on some possessions against Booker and Durant.
- Zach Collins has struggled mightily from three this season but the dam finally broke on Thursday night, as he also went 7-10 from the field and 3-3 from deep. The 25-year-old ended the game with 19 points and 8 boards and remains one of the more under-the-radar big men in the league.
- The young players will get the most attention, but veterans Cedi Osman and Doug McDermott played crucial roles in the win, too. Osman ended with 13 points and made three of his six attempts from deep, and his shooting and playmaking were vital for the Spurs in both the first and fourth quarters. Meanwhile, McDermott hit back-to-back threes early in the fourth to slow down Phoenix’s run, and it’s unlikely the Spurs pull off the win without the contributions from both veterans.
Play of the game
This tweet from Sochan definitely takes the cake.
Next game: vs Raptors on Sunday
The Spurs will get a few days off before facing Toronto at home on Sunday, who are coming off an impressive win over the contending Bucks. Let’s go for three in a row!