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Spurs lose to Cavaliers in a second consecutive nail-biter

The Spurs’ furious comeback was ruined by a disappointing final possession.

NBA: San Antonio Spurs at Cleveland Cavaliers David Richard-USA TODAY Sports

Following an exhilarating game against Giannis and the Bucks, the San Antonio Spurs played another nail-biter in a hard-fought loss to Cleveland. Even though both contests ended in defeat, San Antonio’s effort was terrific and their overall play has been much improved.

The Spurs shot out of a cannon to start the game. They built a double-digit lead just mere minutes into the first quarter as Devin Vassell continued his hot streak by hitting several tough threes. On the other end, Cleveland created many great looks through pinpoint passing but missed most of them. However, the Cavs managed to close the lead after Caris Levert hit back-to-back threes at the end of the first.

Unfortunately for the Spurs, Cleveland soon began converting their shots while continuing to generate high-percentage chances. Jarrett Allen, in particular, was the beneficiary of a few give-and-go plays that resulted in open dunks, and even former ESPN analyst Tristan Thompson made a few simple baskets off of the Cavs’ ball movement. On the bright side, San Antonio’s defense wasn’t bad: it was simply a matter of Cleveland making shots due to their synergistic offense.

Even so, the Spurs managed to keep it close. They went down by nine early in the fourth but quickly made it a one-possession contest when Tre Jones and Cedi Osman combined to score seven fast points. The Cavs then answered by capitalizing on a few San Antonio turnovers and hitting a couple of threes, and the game appeared to be out of reach when Cleveland went up by 14.

That was when the chaos ensued.

With Wemby closing, the Spurs went on a 14-2 run and were one basket away from either winning or forcing overtime. San Antonio had a great chance to do either with 15 seconds remaining, but alas, it wasn’t meant to be.

Even after Cleveland regained possession, the Spurs still got one final shot off due to a clutch block from the French phenom.

It’s disappointing that San Antonio wasn't able to win either of their last two games, but the level of fight that they’ve shown is impressive. There’s no doubt that the wins will come as the team gains more experience.

Game notes

  • Dumb mistakes cost San Antonio the game. The buzzer-beating three that Levert hit at the end of the first quarter came off an errant inbounds pass from the Spurs after he had just made a triple in what should’ve been Cleveland’s final shot of the quarter. The last play of the game was frustrating too since numerous scenarios could’ve happened instead: Wemby or Sochan going for the layup or Keldon attempting a three if a better pass was made. There were also a number of turnovers so bad that the broadcast was still showing replays of the previous possession when the ball was already going through the Spurs’ basket.
  • Wemby finished the game with 24 points, 10 rebounds, and 5 blocks and became just the fifth player in league history to put up such a line while playing under 25 minutes in a game. Impressively, he started quite slow and only had seven points at halftime, which just shows how quickly he’s able to rack up ridiculous numbers.
  • Allen dominated and had 29 points and 16 rebounds. He scored many of his points on wide-open dunks or semi-contested layups off of Cleveland’s beautiful ball movement, so Wemby isn’t at fault for Allen’s big offensive game. However, it did seem like the Spurs were hesitant to challenge him at the rim on a few possessions, which is likely why Sochan decided to pass instead of go for the layup. (Is this how other teams feel when they face Wemby?)
  • Even though that last possession was botched, I was still impressed by Wemby’s pass to Sochan. With 20/20 hindsight, it’s easy to say that he made the wrong choice, but Sochan clearly had a better look at the rim and I’m sure Wemby expected him to lay it in. Even so, I think the rookie would benefit by being more selfish at times, especially when he had a mismatch with Allen still hustling back to the rim. Still, it would be unfair to say that there was one definitive play that should’ve been made on that possession: would we still be debating this if the Spurs scored, regardless of how it happened?
  • Vassell continues to wow with his shotmaking. The 23-year-old guard ended with 22 points and 3 steals on 9/19 shooting from the field and 4/9 from three. More impressively, none of his shots are wide-open since opponents know that he’s San Antonio’s most dangerous perimeter creator. The stats back it up too:

Play of the game

The block. The pass. The shot. Get ready to see this for the next 10 years, Spurs fans.

Next game: Wednesday at Detroit

It’s the showdown between two historically bad teams! I almost wish that they were still mired in those embarrassing losing streaks to add to the comedic storyline.