Despite not winning many games this season, the Spurs have given fans a reason to watch with some exciting play as the regular season winds down. After two straight overtime losses to Western Conference playoff teams, including one in which they blew a 29-point lead, San Antonio bounced back with a 126-118 comeback win over the Atlanta Hawks. Despite being down 22 at halftime, the Spurs capitalized on some sloppy play from Atlanta in the second half and rode hot shooting from their two wing scorers, Keldon Johnson and Devin Vassell.
Vassell has looked closer to the player he was pre-injury in the last two contests. He’s looked confident getting to his spots, rising up and firing from both the mid-range and deep off of the bounce and coming off of screens. Against Atlanta he scored 29 points on 12-17 shooting, and went 5-8 from deep. His defense was beneficial as well, stealing the ball from Atlanta 3 times.
Johnson has been the heart and soul of this squad for most of the season. He plays with outward fire, and never stops coming at the opponent both in his drives to the rim and on hustle plays. He put up 29 points, 12 rebounds and 5 assists in the win. Johnson’s jump shot as has looked much better recently as well, going 2-3 from range against the Hawks. He’s pulling the trigger with confidence and making defenses play for going under screens on the pick and roll.
It wasn’t just the two young wings who had impressive lines. Zach Collins struggled in the first half but came on late to finish the game, stuffing the stat sheet with 19 points, 8 rebounds, 3 assists, 3 steals and 2 blocks. He continues to be a key cog in the offense and is spacing the floor well from the center position.
THREEEEE BALL!!!@zcollins_33 pulls us within ten! pic.twitter.com/hsuezsBMYY— San Antonio Spurs (@spurs) March 19, 2023
A key player down the stretch for the Silver and Black was Blake Wesley, whose improving play recently has garnered praise from the fans and his teammates. Wesley hit some big shots in this one, including a layup that gave San Antonio the lead in the 4th quarter.
BLAKE WESLEY FOR THE LEAD!!! pic.twitter.com/xOUucrJOqc— San Antonio Spurs (@spurs) March 19, 2023
A major part of San Antonio’s recent offensive success has been their ball movement. The Spurs once again had more assists than their opponent, with 26 as a team. Tre Jones led the team with 6 assists against Atlanta, including a duo of highlight passes that led to easy looks at the rim.
The dime, the dunk! @Tre3Jones ➡️ @MalakiBranham pic.twitter.com/5bjTnmKgOK— San Antonio Spurs (@spurs) March 19, 2023
Jones is so fun to watch in the pick and roll. He’s a really savvy playmaker in that action, whether it’s getting into the paint for a floater or finding the open man. This little dump off pass is a perfect example of his creativity on these kinds of plays. He fakes the floater, then hits Collins on the roll after getting Okongwu in the air.
smooth, @tre3jones! @spurs | #PorVida pic.twitter.com/aSpYZcm66o— Bally Sports San Antonio (@BallySportsSA) March 19, 2023
Two-Way wing Julian Champagnie was impressive in his minutes as well. He scored 11 points on 3-6 shooting from deep. He has an impressive and-1 finish at the rim in the first half that was overturned and called a charge. Later he has a huge dunk that showed an offensive foul wouldn’t deter him from attacking the basket.
WITH AUTHORITY ‼️ pic.twitter.com/Idk6nMpaTZ— San Antonio Spurs (@spurs) March 19, 2023
The biggest storyline looming over this game was the return of former Spurs All-Star Dejounte Murray for his first game in San Antonio since being traded last offseason. He received a warm welcome from Spurs fans, and got a compelling tribute video. The Hawks guard put up 22 points, 6 rebounds and 8 assists in the losing effort.
#PorVida pic.twitter.com/EWLpCLP20S— San Antonio Spurs (@spurs) March 20, 2023
Check out the full game highlights:
The Spurs will head back out on the road later this week when they visit the New Orleans Pelicans on Tuesday, March 21.