The San Antonio Spurs tie their franchise record losing streak of 16 in a 121-112 loss to the Chicago Bulls - a game in which they led by as much as thirteen.
As the losses mount, so does the changes in the starting lineup, as in back-to-back games Coach Pop made changes to his starting five. Against the Bulls he promoted Jeremy Sochan back into the starting group in exchange for Zach Collins and replaced Cedi Osman with Malaki Branham. The reasoning Pop gave was they wanted to see four perimeter players surrounding just one big on the floor.
The lineup change gave the Spurs a boost in the first half with the home side getting off to a fast start - hitting four of their first six shots - but turnovers continued to plague the young ball squad with the Silver & Black giving the ball back to the Bulls three times in the opening four minutes. San Antonio were knocking down shots they hadn’t been doing prior to this game and that helped the Spurs race out to a 33-24 first quarter lead.
The second period started the same as the first with the Spurs shotmaking on full display as they upped their lead to double-figures. The Bulls who came into the game on a season best three-game win streak weren’t going to give in easy, hitting the Spurs with a 9-0 run to bring the lead back to one possession. Malaki Branham who was given the start in this one and has had a rollercoaster sophomore year went on a personal 7-0 run to restore the Spurs advantage and take them into the half up 63-52.
The Spurs who are worst third quarter team in the league (by a large margin!) had an eleven point lead heading into the frame and by the time the twelve minutes were up the Chicago Bulls were in front by four. It was an ugly period of basketball with tons of fouls and free throws but mostly some truly atrocious defense from the home team who couldn’t string together stops and when they did the Bulls would just grab an offensive rebound for another possession. Enough said about this quarter the better.
The Spurs went into the fourth down 87-83 but looked like they were going to get back on track as they started to feed Victor Wembanyama down low who was dominating around the basket most of the night. Doug McDermott gave Wemby some help from the outside hitting three threes in the fourth to keep the Spurs alive. But their hope wouldn’t last long as their horrendous defensive effort, especially in transition, would rear its ugly head as Chicago raced away to a 121-112 victory.
- EFFORT. This game was won by the Bulls for one simple reason: effort. They hustled for loose balls, rebounds & extra possessions much harder than the Spurs did. They played physical defense, made less mental mistakes and to be honest they just gave more of a sh*t about winning this game. San Antonio didn’t lose because the Bulls were more talented, they had this game in their hands and took their foot off the pedal, gave the Bulls a sniff and by the time they knew what hit them, the game was over.
- Offensive Improvement. While the defense might have taken several steps back in this game, the offense did look improved with the new lineup changes. With Wemby at the 5 the Spurs spacing was much better and there was more room for the perimeter players to operate and find passes. The ball zipped around the court and open shooters were being found with accurate and on-time passes.
- History. Victor Wembanyama made history in this game becoming the youngest player (by just four days!) to record a 20-20. In his first game starting at center in his NBA career, Wemby feasted on the boards and dominated scoring the ball inside the paint as he battled with former All-Star, Nikola Vucevic.
Player of the Game
3rd: Tre Jones - 18 points (6/7, 2/2, 4/4), 9 assists, 5 rebounds, 1 steal in 28 minutes
2nd: Victor Wembanyama - 21 points, 20 rebounds, 4 assists, 4 blocks in 32 minutes
Play Of The Game
The two best players in the game combined for the play of the game:
Next Game: @ Houston on Monday
The Spurs will hope to not create any new history when they matchup against their Texas rivals on Monday.