Staying in games only to lose them late has been somewhat of a theme over the course of the San Antonio Spurs thirteen game losing streak. The franchise’s second-longest losing streak has been filled with periods of exciting basketball that fall flat in the second half. This was the case on Thursday when the Spurs lost at home against the Atlanta Hawks 137-135.
San Antonio simply couldn’t stop Trae Young, who had a monster night with 45 points and 14 assists.
“Their execution is better all the time, but you get to fourth quarters, the great players take over and that’s been difficult for us,” Gregg Popovich told reporters after the game. “Trae had his way there in the third quarter and down the stretch.”
Despite the loss, the Spurs showed some promising signs that if carried through for the rest of the reason, should lead to more wins. One of those was the improved play of Jeremy Sochan.
The sophomore had his best game of the season putting up a career-high 33 points, 8 rebounds and 6 assists. He was a perfect three of three from deep. Sochan did work off the ball and in transition. He was excellent cutting and finishing inside, or making plays for others.
Sochan is one of the strongest finishers on the team. He’s as athletic as they come and a weapon on the break.
It wasn’t just his scoring that impressed either. Sochan made some good reads late in the game. Despite his 5 turnovers, he showed why the Spurs are high on his playmaking instincts. This full court touchdown pass to Devin Vassell was one of his better assists of the night.
Victor Wembanyama seems to be settling into the NBA game. Over the last three contests he’s been more selective with his shot and impactful defensively. Against Atlanta Wemby put up 21 points, 12 rebounds and 4 blocks. He was aggressive from the get-go, scoring at the rim and finding easy shots from mid-range.
It seems like it’s been awhile since Wembanyama tried to take his matchup off the bounce. Typically guarded by smaller, quicker wings, it can be hard for the big man to penetrate with his dribble. This move against Clint Capela shows that he has the ability to get to the hoop when guarded by a slower big man. The and-1 finish is the icing on the cake.
Mark my words, Wembanyama is eventually going to have a “Jokic-esque” impact on the game with his passing. He may not do it with the same flair and vision as the former MVP, but his combination of length and instincts opens up angles that other players just can’t find. This feed to Collins might be the best entry pass the team has made all season.
It wouldn’t be a highlights section without a Wembanyama “nerf hoop” dunk. Seriously, I can’t think of a better brand-athlete partnership than Nerf and Wemby. Bring back the nerf hoops!
Okay back to the game. How good has Vassell been this season? Despite coming off the bench, he’s been one of the team’s most impactful offensive weapons. On Thursday he scored 25 points, hitting four of his ten deep balls. Vassell is shooting 42.1% from deep overall this season.
This is a perfect read by Cedi Osman, who collapses the defense and finds the best shooter on the team wide open for three points.
The Spurs will look to bounce back in New Orleans against the Pelicans on Friday night. If they can get similarly strong performances from their young core, they’ll have a chance at snapping their 13-game skid.
Watch the full highlights from Thursday’s game below.