The San Antonio Spurs once again faltered late despite an above average offensive performance in their 130-115 loss to the Golden State Warriors. They could not match the stellar offensive output from Stephan Curry, Klay Thompson and Jordan Poole, as Golden State shot 43% from deep, and their three scoring guards all finished with around 30 points.
San Antonio was led by their wings, Malaki Branham and Keldon Johnson. Branham has been finishing the season strong, averaging 17.5 points over his last 4-games. He’s done it mostly around the basket, scoring on smooth drives to the lane, and back door cuts for open layups. The body control and touch he’s shown as a 19-year-old should make Spurs fans excited for his development going forward.
He’s a very instinctual cutter, finding the open spot on the floor where he can attack the defense. In the first quarter he crashed the paint off of an offensive rebounding, slamming a thunderous dunk off of the Sandro Mamukelashvili pocket pass.
Where the rookie guard has not been great is shooting from deep. He’s shot just 30% on threes this year, but scorched the nets against the Warriors. He looked confident stepping out beyond the three point line to hit 3-7 from deep on his way to a 19 point, 7 rebound performance. The most impressive part of his shooting performance was his ability to do it off of movement. Here you see him relocating to the corner and nailing a contested look.
This three off of the screen shows the kind of rhythm he was in. The Spurs have some great ball movement on this possession, cutting off of the ball, swinging it side to side, and finding Branham who can step right into the shot. When it’s clicking, his game is so smooth, and is a perfect fit for this offense.
Enough about the rookie, it was the other wing who led the Spurs in scoring tonight, as he has for most of the season. Johnson finished with 22 points on 7-17 shooting, hitting three of his seven shots from deep. The jump shot is a major factor in the type of scorer Keldon can become, and it’s been falling more and more recently. This mid-range and-1 showed the kind of touch we don’t always see from Big Body.
These strong drives to the rim are more of what we expect from KJ. This left-handed finish against one of the league’s tough guys in Draymond Green, has a high degree of difficulty, but he makes it look routine.
With Zach Collins out, the Spurs needed big performances from their back up big men to keep this game close. Gorgui Dieng answered the call, posting a double-double off of the bench with 14 points and 10 rebounds in just 17 minutes of play. He cashed in 4 of his 5 three point attempts, including this trailing transition bomb.
Mamukelashvili has become a fan favorite since joining the team in March. He’s likely played his way onto next year’s roster with his effort on the glass and defensive end, as well as his ability to space the floor with his shooting and passing. He got the starting center minutes against Golden State, and answered the call with 13 points, 11 rebounds and 4 assists. His best play came on this steal and full court bullet to Branham for the easy bucket.
Aggressive defense ➡️ instant offense pic.twitter.com/lkrXBSsENo— San Antonio Spurs (@spurs) April 1, 2023
Despite letting the Warriors heat up from three, the defense showed signs of life in the loss. San Antonio forced Golden State to turn the ball over 15 times, and rejected them at the rim 4 times. In the last few games, the Spurs have been dominated in the paint, but they actually managed to have a 0-point differential inside. You’ll take that compared to recent efforts.
Tre Jones and Keita Bates-Diop should be mentioned, as the hook up for a dunk on this clip. These two always bring a solid presence to the lineup with their ability to play their roles expertly on both ends. Jones led the team in assists, going for 10 points and 6 set ups. KBD plugged into the starting-5 nicely once again, putting up 14 points, and 7 rebounds.
Check out the full game highlights here:
The Spurs will look to bounce back against the Kings on Sunday in the second game of their 3-game west coast road trip.