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San Antonio vs Atlanta, Final Score: Hawks extend Spurs losing streak 137-135

Trae Young dominates while the Spur hang close to the end but fall just short on Jeremy Sochan’s best game as a Spur

NBA: Atlanta Hawks at San Antonio Spurs Daniel Dunn-USA TODAY Sports

Trae Young was unstoppable tonight, both scoring and distributing the ball to his teammates, but somehow the Spurs made this a competitive game until the last minute, while the inability to stop Trae’s insane shotmaking doomed the Spurs. Not only did he have 45 points and 14 assists, he also made the critical defensive play of the game, taking a charge with 2.7 seconds left to keep Jeremy Sochan from hitting a shot to tie the game. Offense wasn’t a problem for the Silver and Black, but the defense let them down again late in the game as they lost 137-135 to the Hawks. The Spurs almost pulled out a win tonight, but the thrilling finish just fell short, and the Spurs lost their 13th game in a row.

The Spurs showed a few new wrinkles tonight, with Jeremy Sochan playing a lot of minutes with another guard to share the ball handling duties, and that allowed him a lot more freedom to create his own offense as he played his best game of the season so far, scoring 30 points. Victor Wembanyama played with more purpose and control than many of the games and it made a big difference as he scored 20 with 4 blocks and 2 steals.

The Spurs also got a good performance off the bench from Julian Champagnie. Devin Vassell was also a reserve tonight, and he looks to be ready to resume being a full time starter as soon as Pop removes the minutes restriction. Keldon Johnson had a really good game, but they fell just short in a heartbreak, as they made too many mistakes and turnovers to overcome Young’s overwhelming performance.

Observations

  • I saw an interview with Erik Spoelstra in one of the pregame shows, and I noticed that now that he parts his hair in the middle, he has a strong resemblance to the Dick Tracy villain Flattop. I mean, really, look it up. There must be something about living in Miami that motivates people to make poor hairstyle choices.
  • I’m really enjoying the In Season Tournament so far, but one thing that needs to change is the tiebreaker structure. Having point differential as a major factor ends up with a lot of good teams running up the score on bad teams, and that’s just not cool, or enjoyable to watch. I don’t really know a better system, but if anyone has ideas, maybe they can post them in the comments.
  • Cedi Osman predicted a win in a pre-game interview. I always knew I liked him.
  • The Spurs got off to a great start, with Wembanyama being as aggressive as I’ve seen him so far at getting to the hoop. That opened up his deep shot and the offense for everyone else on the team as the Silver and Black streaked out to a 18-7 lead with crisp passing and elite movement.
  • Charles Bassey hasn’t looked as good as he did last year so far, he just seemed a little sluggish, but that wasn’t the case tonight, as he got way off the floor for a spectacular block.
  • Champagnie looked very sharp to start the game as the Spurs surged out to a 15 point lead in the game, but the Hawks scored the last six and he Spurs led 35-26 after a quarter.
  • The Hawks used their challenge early in the second quarter, which can be a great move if you win it, but you have to be sure, because if you lose, you can’t challenge any calls for the rest of the game. They lost the challenge.
  • The Spurs offense somehow looked sharp and was a turnover machine at the same time. Maybe the bar has just been lowered so much by their play so far, but they looked really good at the same time that they gave the Hawks tons of easy points off of live ball turnovers, and before you knew it, the Hawks took the lead 45-44 halfway through the second quarter.
  • Tre Jones is a pest on defense. What he gives away in height, he makes up for in intensity.
  • When Sochan was on the court with Tre, his offense really looked a lot better when he wasn’t weighed down with having to initiate the offense.
  • Vassell is the master of making difficult contested shots, and he hit the final shot of the second quarter for the Spurs as they led 66-62 at the half.
  • Saddiq Bey is a really nice player for them, and with Trae Young feeding him the ball in great positions, he’s deadly.
  • I really like Malaki Branham, but when he’s inserted in the starting lineup, he’s the weakest link on both offense and defense. I can’t wait until Devin Vassell returns to the starting lineup.
  • When the Spurs came out of halftime cold, I just had this dead feeling in the pit of my stomach, like here we go again, but the Spurs fought back and played the third pretty closely and regained their composure to lead by 12 with a few minutes left in the third. Trae Young was insanely hot in the third, scoring 20 in the frame, but somehow the Spurs led 105-101 after three.
  • Trae Young isn’t just a dangerous scorer, he makes everyone else on the team better with his elite passing. He might have the second best handle in the league, behind Steph Curry.
  • The Spurs seemed to lose their composure midway through the fourth, but unlike some of the game in the losing streak, they regained it, and kept it close until the final two minutes.
  • The comeback in the last minute was brilliant, and the Spurs almost succeeded in taking the game to overtime, but the margin for error was nonexistent, and Trae Young’s defense ended the game, which somehow seemed like the only way it could have ended. Oh well, there’s another game tomorrow.

The Spurs have lost 13 games in a row and their record is now 3-15. The Spurs have a quick turnaround as they travel to New Orleans tonight to face the Pelicans tomorrow who won their In Season Tournament group and will be playing their first knockout round game on Monday night against the Sacramento Kings.