The Spurs entered the second game of their seven-game homestand hoping to get back on a winning track, and they did just that with a dominant second half performance over the Portland Trail Blazers. After a poor start, the Spurs picked things up in the second quarter and cruised from there, gradually building up their lead to win 116-110.
They got a big night from Jeremy Sochan with 31 points and a career high 14 rebounds while hitting 4-7 from three. Two other Spurs also recorded double-doubles, with Victor Wembanyama adding 23 points and 12 rebounds and Keldon Johnson contributing 21 points and 16 rebounds off the bench. Anerfree Simons led the Blazers with 40 points and 10 assists.
- The injury bug has hit Portland hard. They were already missing both Malcom Brogdon and Shaeden Sharpe, then Jeremi Grant and Scoot Henderson did not return to the game after their first stints with back and quad soreness, respectively.
- The Blazers did have Anerfree Simons and Deandre Ayton back after they both missed the miniseries in Portland. Simons was a problem early with 15 points on 4-6 shooting from three in the first quarter, was held relatively in check for the middle quarters, and then did all he could in the fourth to keep his team in the game with 16 points. Fortunately, he didn’t have enough help outside of Ayton, who had 20 points and 12 rebounds.
- This is one of those games where the box score plus/minus doesn’t lie, especially in the first half. The Spurs were an entirely different team when Wemby was on the court in the first half, largely because of his gravitational pull. In the first quarter alone, the Spurs were up 4 when he left the court but down seven when he returned to start the second thanks to the inept play from bench continuing from Wednesday. In Wemby’s second stint, he brought them right back to retake the lead before he sat again. Gregg Popovich staggered the rest of the starters more after that, keeping Devin Vassell and Sochan on the floor, and they held their own better without Wemby from there, but he still had 18 points and was a team-best +13 at the half, and this was one of those cases where you could see it.
- Reports of Jeremy Sochan’s demise have been greatly exaggerated. While he admits that the failed point guard experiment was a little demoralizing at times, he has shown great improvement from last season now that he’s back at his normal position of power forward. His big night helped make up for relatively poor shooting night from Devin Vassell, who had 15 points on 5-14 shooting.
- Malaki Branham still remains in the dog house. With Tre Jones back, he got a DNP for the second time in three games. Instead, Blake Wesley backed Jones up, and while his effort and tenacity is much more appreciated by Pop at this point, his knack for missing at the rim returned as he shot 0-5 for the night, with four of those misses being blown layups or dunks. He did lead the team in assists with and only had 1 turnover, so it was still a solid night for him outside of shooting.
- Even though Wemby’s minutes restrictions have been raised to 30 (so not far from lifted considering he was averaging 31 minutes before) and he will reportedly play in back-to-backs (including tomorrow), it’s clear he still has some conditioning to do to get used to the heavier workload again. He could be seen getting gassed and slowing down after 5-6 minutes and calling for the substitution a few times.
For the Blazers fans’ perspective, visit Blazers Edge.
The Spurs will be right back in action tomorrow night to take on the Minnesota Timberwolves. Tip-off will be at 7:30 PM CT on KENS 5.