With the trade deadline behind them, the San Antonio Spurs walked into Orlando with what will likely be their roster for the rest of the season. Missing the veteran Doug McDermott, the Spurs were outmatched by the Orlando Magic in a 127-111 loss.
The Magic are usually one of the worst three-point shooting teams in the NBA, but not on Thursday night. They hit 16 threes on 59.3% shooting. A few of them were wide open, due to miscommunications by the Spurs defense. Meanwhile, the Spurs shooting woes still plagued them, as they shot just 31.4% from three.
Devin Vassell was cold in the first half, not managing to find his shot. He exploded in the second, scoring 23 points in the third quarter, and all 30 of his points in the second half.
He did it by getting downhill and attacking the basket. Vassell is a good finisher at the rim, and is flashing the ability to get their more often. On Thursday he made it a priority in the second half to attack the seams of the Magic’s defense, rather than be a floor spacer. He spoke about this mentality after the game.
“At halftime I thought about those two games when we played Atlanta and Chicago where I just couldn’t get going,” Vassell said. “I was shooting a lot of jump shots, and I let that dictate my game. The first couple of times I got the ball, I was just like ‘let me get downhill, or even to the free throw line and get something going.’ I can at least feel good after I see a couple go down.”
SOLID— San Antonio Spurs (@spurs) February 9, 2024
Dev is the first Spur in double digits! pic.twitter.com/psF4aWzCi6
Vassell is one of the few Spurs who can create separation for himself in the half-court. He has a great handle, defenses have to respect his pull up jumper and he has the athleticism to get past defenders. With an aggressive mindset, he can become a true three-level scorer that San Antonio so desperately needs.
Then once he sees the ball go in a few times, that opens up his game to take more difficult shots like this mid-range J.
Of course it wouldn’t be a highlight reel without some Victor Wembanyama plays. After Moritz Wagner dunked on Wemby, the rookie was able to get him back with this Statue of Liberty slam. Wembanyama finished the game with 15 points and 3 rebounds.
He knocked down two of his four three-pointers. Since moving the center he’s looked much more comfortable taking shots from deep. He’s not forcing as many shots. Instead the rookie is finding his rhythm and launching when it’s appropriate.
Blake Wesley continues to impress off the bench. He had 10 points and 7 assists in his 25 minutes. Wesley is a pest on defense and has great speed to play in the open court. If his jump shot and decision making continue to progress, he will be a real piece to this young core.
The Spurs will get a day off before heading to Brooklyn to take on the Nets on Saturday night. San Antonio will look to snap their six-game losing streak.
Check out the full-game highlights below.