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San Antonio at Chicago, Final Score: Spurs fade late, lose 114-95 to Bulls

They hung close for much of the game, but turnovers and poor shooting doomed the Silver and Black to a loss in Chicago

San Antonio Spurs v Chicago Bulls Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images

The young Spurs kept up with the veteran Bulls for much of the game, in a game that was ugly for both teams for the first three quarters. The Bulls were extremely cold from beyond the arc for most of the game, but they found the range in the fourth quarter as Coby White and the rest of the Bulls buried the Spurs by hitting open shots. Victor Wembanyama returned to the Spurs lineup tonight, but Pop kept him on a short rotation and he didn’t score a point in a slow first half. He looked better in the second half, but didn’t have enough of an impact to hold off the late-surging Chicago squad.

Once again the Spurs got a solid performance from Keldon Johnson, and Devin Vassell played pretty well coming off of a stomach bug. The Spur just made too many defensive mistakes, and that along with a surfeit of turnovers doomed the Spurs to another loss on the road. It doesn’t get any easier for the good guys, as they play the Mavericks in Dallas in two days.

Observations

  • DeMar DeRozan has an amazing ability to draw fouls just standing in one place in the court. It’s just amazing how many of his points are due to him tricking an opponent into reaching with a subtle fake when he’s not even trying to shoot the ball or pass. It’s an underappreciated skill, because it results in a lot of points with minimal risk. Young players should learn from him, because sometimes the most effective basketball plays aren’t the most spectacular. Julian was the first victim tonight, and it earned him a quick trip to the bench for an impromptu coaching session from Pop.
  • Victor put his stamp on the game on the first play, blocking Vucevic’s shot and getting the ball out to Malaki Branham for a quick two. Malaki scored the first seven Spur points to stake the Silver and Black to an early lead.
  • When Victor sat the Spurs defense sagged, letting the Bulls back into the game. Andre Drummond came in and dominated the paint, and with a few Alex Caruso steals, the Bulls briefly retook the lead, but somehow the Spurs held on for a 28-27 first quarter win.
  • Patrick Williams is just an imposing player. Sean Elliott compared his game to Kawhi Leonard’s and it’s not an inapt comparison.
  • Andre Drummond is only 30? How is that possible?
  • The intensity of the Bulls defense discombobulated the Spurs in the second quarter as they turned over the ball multiple times, but kept within range until the Bulls went a little cold late in the quarter and Devin Vassell got hot enough so that the Spurs were only down by four at the half, 48-52.
  • The audio on the Bally Sports broadcast was amazing, as I heard every curse word uttered on the court by the players with utter clarity.
  • After 11 turnovers in the first half, the Spurs only trailed by four going into the locker room.
  • Victor looked a little out of sorts in the first half, perhaps his ankle was still bothering him.
  • At least the Spurs aren’t the Pistons, tonight they lost their 25th straight, defeated by the Jazz who sat all five of their starters for the game.
  • Wembanyama looked more active as the third quarter began, and got his first points on a leak-out dunk assisted by Branham. That’s something that needs to happen a lot more in games. He got pulled early by Pop, and it just wasn’t his night.
  • He got called for a foul, but Keldon Johnson’s chasedown attempted block on Patrick Williams in the third quarter showed the kind of player that KJ is. He just doesn’t give up.
  • Neither team could hit a shot in the third quarter, but the Bulls played with a little more efficiency and led 77-70 after three quarters.
  • After neither team could hit a triple in the first three quarters, the lid came off the basket in the fourth, as the Bulls pushed their lead to 15 early in the quarter, stretching it to over 20 in la tiempa del basuro.
  • Blake Wesley finally got some non G-League run in garbage time for the Spurs, and looked pretty decent. As long as the Spurs are losing games, they might as well let him play and see if he’s good enough to make it in the NBA.

After their big win over the Lakers, the Spurs started a new losing streak that now stands at three games. The Spurs play again on Saturday in Dallas against Luka Doncic and the Mavericks, before returning home on the 26th to play the Jazz.