Another game, another loss: Though the San Antonio Spurs held tight until midway into the fourth quarter, as opposed to their usual third quarter collapses, they lost touch in the end and lost by 15 points. In a game short of true highlights, as even the Pels’ stars Zion Williamson and Brandon Ingram largely disappointed, it was as usual, Jonas Valančiūnas whom the Spurs just couldn’t contain.
On a hypothetical list of the Spurs’ major antagonists of the past five years, I could find a place for Valančiūnas in the Top 10. It’s just exhausting to see him dominating whichever big the Spurs throw in his path, from LaMarcus Aldridge to Zach Collins.
That’s not to say that all the Spurs’ bigs disappointed. Next to his fellow second-stringer Cedi Osman, it was Charles Bassey who was the Spurs’ main highlight provider Friday night.
Here’s the Spurs’ highlight of the game for me, Charles Bassey hands off the ball to Devin Vassel, who finds Cedi Osman on the perimeter, who slashes into the zone, and, then, with what looks like a double eurostep, serves Bassey a dunk opportunity on a silver platter. Anyone else getting Manu vibes here?
Not too dissimilar is this play that Charles finished with another powerful stuff: Keldon runs into trouble, but is presented with a way out by Julian Champagnie making himself available out on the perimeter. (Mind you, there’s always a major risk involved when Herb Jones is, or could be, between you and the guy you want to pass the ball to.) Champagnie then makes his way towards the zone to find Bassey unguarded below the basket.
I know, us Pounders aren’t getting excited about DeMar DeRozan vibes as much as we are getting excited about Manu vibes, but here Cedi shows he’s got a bit of DeRozan in him as well, with this beautiful inside/out pass to Devin Vassell, whose shooting motion is a thing of pure beauty.
Few highlights from last night didn’t involve either Cedi or Charles, and this beautiful “Durchstecker”, as we call it in Germany, from Charles to Keldon for the dunk is no exception.
Again, it’s big man Bassey who finds Keldon, this time for a three. (Is that maybe something the Spurs could have done more last night? With Victor Wembanyama out and Devin Vassell still not back in the starting lineup, the Spurs next go-to guy only took seven field goal attempts last night. Would have been nice to see the team’s most efficient scorer featured more.)
As good a Devin is from beyond the arc, him slashing into mid-range territory, where he is among the league’s very best, is always a good idea.
Another good idea, in case you missed last night’s game, is watching the full highlights. Here they are: