The good guys put up a valiant fight in their last true home game of the 2022-23 season, but the young guns could not overcome the Utah Jazz. Malaki Branham led the Spurs with 21 points on 7-12 shooting. Tre Jones, Sandro Mamukelashvili, and Devonte’ Graham each had 17 points while Zach Collins and Mamukelashvili each crashed the boards to the tune of 8 rebounds apiece. Despite the loss, the team showed out for the home crowd and did not dial back any effort in their clash with the visiting Jazz.
The ol’ mantra, “don’t think; just shoot” didn’t really apply here as Devonte’ Graham took a bit to square up and drain this three. The Spurs as a team did not fare so well from deep against the Jazz, but Graham did his part in draining 3 out of his 7 attempts.
Team work makes the dream work. The Spurs mob got out in transition and Sandro Mamukelashvili found a cutting Zach Collins for the finishing flush. Mamukelashvili has had more run recently in light of the many injuries on the roster. He’s averaging 13.75 points in the last four games, playing 25+ minutes along the way.
Tre Jones took the steal and went coast-to-coast to for the finish after playing a quick game of hot potato with Keita Bates-Diop, who happily returned the ball to Jones for the quick two. There was no shortage of fast breaks and quick scoring in this game from either side.
Zach Collins showed off some old school NBA moves down low by actually making some post moves on his defender and spinning his way to a bucket. It’s satisfying to see Collins playing well further and further away from his previous serious injuries. Spurs fans will be eager to see the big man continue to grow and hopefully develop into a viable starting center.
Here, Collins found Julian Champagnie cutting to the basket and hit him with sweet pass for the fantastic finish. Collins is averaging a career-high 2.8 assists per game this season. The extreme optimist in me hopes he can bump that assist rate up to as high as 5 next season, but I’ll take 3.5 apg!
The smallest guy on the court getting the biggest block will never not amuse me. Devonte’ Graham timed this rejection perfectly flying up to meet the ball. Graham, playing more big minutes while the starters are out due to injury, once again stepped into his greenlit scoring role and helped the Spurs find ways to score on offense.
You always hustle like no one’s watching. But we’re watching, guys. We’re still watching. We see that hustle, and we appreciate the effort. This particular extracurricular effort paid off with a finish by Keita Bates-Diop on the put-back.
Speaking of KBD, congratulations on the award and thank you for your contributions to the community, No better way to honor Bates-Diop than sharing that moment with the one and only David Robinson.
This will be my last highlights write-up for the 2022-2023 NBA Spurs season, unless the multi-verse opens up and swallows me, transporting me to a somewhat ridiculous timeline where the Spurs make the play-in with PG Jalen Brunson (outbid New York!), SG/SF Devin Vassell, F Keldon Johnson, PF Evan Mobley (Cleveland didn’t want him and traded him for 12 puffy tacos!), C Jakob Poeltl, with a solid bench of F Jeremy Sochan, PG Tre Jones, C Zach Collins, F Doug McDermott, and (in bombastic wrestling announcer voice) OH AND WHO IS IT BARRELING DOWN THE TUNNEL—IT’S DERRICK WHITE RETURNING HOME TO LEAD THE SPURS TO THE PLAYOFFS!
In this particular multi-verse, the Spurs beat the L.A. Lakers in the play-in tourney but lose to the Denver Nuggets in the first round. But hey, games have meaning again! Alas, I digress. Unless that particular scenario occurs, I’m afraid this is my last highlights article for the season. I want to thank J.R. Wilco for the opportunity to always share my Spurs love with fellow fans.
A brighter future is ahead. Whoever we draft, they will be a cherished Spur, always. Once a Spur always a Spur: for instance, players before them you might know like (in Larry David voice as George Steinbrenner) “Derrick White, Josh Richardson, Michael Finley, Drew Eubanks, Tracy McGrady, HoFer Tony Parker, Marco Belinelli, Antonio McDyess, Boris Diaw, Marco Belinelli, Steve Kerr, Kevin Willis, Nick Van Exel, Marco Belinelli, Hedo Turkoglu, Steve Smith, Glenn Robinson, Marco Belinelli, Billy Martin, etc.”
Again I digress. Have a great spring and summer, fellow Pounders. Go Spurs Go!
Psss, (whispers) Yes, I know there’s a multi-verse out there where (1) Kawi Leonard never leaves, (B) Tim Duncan never had that serious injury in 2000 that robbed him of his underrated athleticism in the very late ‘90s, (iii) Derek Fisher and 0.4 never occurred, (four) Manu Ginobili didn’t foul Dirk Nowitzki, and (V) Ray Alle . . . Oh I can’t even type it out. But that’s a dream for another day—not today.
Here’s hoping the lottery balls fall in their favor.
And last but never least, the full-game highlights:
Next up, the Spurs head over to NoCal to take on the Golden State Warriors on Friday, March 31, 2023.