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San Antonio Rides Franchise Record Shooting Night in Victory Over Magic

Explosive offensive output scorches the Magic

NBA: Orlando Magic at San Antonio Spurs Daniel Dunn-USA TODAY Sports

The nets were on fire in San Antonio tonight. The Spurs set a new franchise-high 22 three pointers, breaking the record set by the 2021 team, who hit 20 on January 5th against the Clippers. The Silver and Black started to look more like the Spurs of old, with unselfish play and “good to great” shot selection in their 132-114 win over the Orlando Magic.

The Spurs were led by their front court, Zach Collins and Jeremy Sochan who put up 25 and 29 respectively. Collins got the Spurs started with a hot start in the 1st quarter, hitting three shots from behind the arc, and scoring 13 points. The offense was running through the starting big man in the high and low post, making the defense pay for leaving him open, and banging with the physical Wendell Carter Jr. inside.

The Spurs bench unit let the Magic stick around whenever it took over in the 2nd and 3rd quarters. The Sandro Mamukelashvili on Paolo Banchero matchup was a particularly beneficial one for the Magic in those minutes. Banchero finished the contest with 27 points and 6 rebounds on 11-21 shooting. The bench finished the game with only 1 player having a positive plus minus in significant minutes: Blake Wesley.

The rookie guard was vital in keeping the lead for the Silver and Black when the starters took to the bench in the first half. He looked comfortable reading the defense, making the right plays and finding shooters on kick outs. He finished the game with a career-high 7 assists, and had an emphatic dunk in the second quarter.

The Magic ratcheted up the defensive pressure in the second quarter, cutting the lead to 4 at one point on some strong offensive rebounding (they had 13 total) and transition buckets, including an awesome behind the back pass from Bol Bol in transition for an open Cole Anthony 3-point basket. The Spurs would finish the half up 67-61.

The Spurs had a killer stretch to start the 3rd quarter, going on a 19-8 run. They did it on stellar ball movement. The starters consistently made the correct reads, finding cutters heading to the basket, and shooters streaking out for threes. San Antonio had 39 total assists, compared to the Magic’s 24. Despite some erratic play from the bench late in the quarter, the Spurs went into the 4th with a nine-point lead.

Gregg Popovich let the bench play it out, not going back to his starters until the 6:30 mark, with a 6-point lead. Some turnovers, and shoddy rebounding let the Magic climb back into a game that seemed to be in control until that point. The starters shut down the Magic in the last 6 minutes, outscoring them 13-7. Jeremy Sochan was the major difference maker down the stretch, with a clutch seal and bucket for 2 one one possession, then a stellar cross court skip pass for a Keita Bates-Diop three that set the record.

Despite being without key playmakers like Keldon Johnson, Malaki Branham and Tre Jones, the Spurs were able to ride some hot shooting to their 18th victory. The young pieces thrived, and Sochan had another poster performance for Spurs fans to hang their hats on.

Game Notes

  • Zach Collins is having his best stretch as an NBA player. In March he’s averaging 16 and 9 with 4 assists, and is hitting 50% of his three-pointers. The Spurs were putting a lot of faith in the 6th year big man to step into Jakob Poeltl’s shoes, and he’s done that and then some. It’s not a stretch to say he’s been the Spurs best player over the last 5 games. He’s doing it all on the court for them, initiating offense out of the high post, banging down low with physical bigs, spacing the floor on offense and protecting the rim on defense. He finished tonight’s contest with 3 blocks, and you can see him getting more confident in his defensive rotations. I’m trying not to get too excited about his development, but he’s been good enough for the Spurs to take a long hard look at him as a key piece of this rebuild going forward, especially with his contract non-guaranteed for next season.
  • It’s almost a cliché to talk about Blake Wesley in flashes... but that’s really what he’s shown. Tonight he looked incredible in the first half, playing under control, using his burst to quickly change speeds and create separation from his defender and find open teammates. Then in the second half he looked like he couldn’t keep up with the pressure and speed of an NBA game. It would be really great to see him keep getting extensive run as the leader of that second unit at the end of the season. A consistent role could help him gain some comfort with the NBA game, and set him up for success next season. The talent is clearly there, and the tools are tantalizing. He just needs the time to put it all together.
  • Jeremy Sochan... all-rookie lock? Not quite a 30-point game tonight, but this might have been his best game as a Spur. 29 points on super efficient scoring and 11 rebounds while playing elite on-ball defense on Banchero. He was the only player who could slow him down tonight, using his athleticism and physicality to match the 1st overall pick in the 2022 draft. Sochan outplayed Banchero flat-out tonight. He also hit 3 of 6 from range, and hit a pull up 3 on the pick and roll that made my jaw drop. If he can hit that shot, it makes him so much more than just a high-level glue guy. Banchero, Benedict Mathurin, Jalen Williams and Walker Kessler are all likely locks for 1st-team all-rookie, but it would not shock me to see Sochan sneak in there over Jaden Ivy or Keegan Murray.
  • The question on the top of all Spurs fans minds... how does the win impact their draft odds? The Spurs are still 2.5 games behind the Hornets in the loss column, putting them firmly in the bottom three teams in the league. San Antonio has more games to play (14 compared to 11), but has a tougher schedule ahead of them than Charlotte. The Hornets have also lost 3 games in a row, while the Spurs have won 2 of their last 3. It’s not time to panic yet, but it is certainly worth monitoring.