After a miraculous comeback victory on Tuesday night against the Phoenix Suns, the San Antonio Spurs defeated the Suns once again in thrilling fashion. Rookie phenom Victor Wembanyama had a game to remember, as the Frenchman totaled 38 points, ten rebounds, two assists and two blocks.
On Tuesday, San Antonio came storming back after Phoenix got out to a 20-point lead. Tonight, it was the Spurs who got out to a big lead — and it was the Suns who came storming back. The good guys led by as many as 25 points but the Suns were able to climb all the way back in the fourth quarter. Led by Kevin Durant and Devin Booker, Phoenix tied the game 116-116 with 4:20 remaining in regulation.
However, that’s when Wembanyama once more displayed his fourth quarter chutzpah. Powered by ten points from the rookie, the Spurs went on a 12-0 run to seal what would become a 132-121 win.
All in all, this was a super, super impressive victory. The Spurs played great early and then came up big down the stretch. Logically, the Suns should have been the ones to shine in crunch time by leaning on Durant and Booker. But there was one big problem with that logic: Victor Wembanyama. He was far and away the best player on the court when it mattered the most.
Stats: Spurs at Suns
Spurs at Suns – Final Grades
Wembanyama might have had a couple of ill-advised shots but everything else about how he played was sublime. Defensively, the Suns were paranoid whenever he was within 15 feet of the ball. He rebounded well and stayed out of foul trouble. Offensively, Wembanyama was a beast. He battled for position to punish Phoenix in the paint. His three-pointers looked extra spicy. He passed the ball well and did a great job of limiting his turnovers. When it became winning time, Wembanyama was special. He was locked in and played flawless basketball down the stretch. Wembanyama scoring 38 points against Kevin Durant in his fifth ever NBA game is something we Spurs fans will never forget. This is so fun.
While Wembanyama stole the show, Vassell deserves a lot of credit for guiding San Antonio to their 25-point advantage. He was fantastic in transition, he drilled all three of his three-point tries and reliably made smart decisions. I also thought Vassell was playing really good defense. Sadly, Vassell left with a groin injury. It sounds like the injury will keep him out for a while. On what was otherwise a glorious night in Spursfandom, Vassell getting hurt definitely rained on the parade.
Sure, Johnson was only 3-for-11 from the field. Yes, he fouled five times. But despite those unsightly numbers, I thought Johnson played really well. For the third straight game, he finished without a turnover. His ability to avoid costly miscues exhibits quite a bit of growth in his game. Johnson passed the ball well and supplied some ball-handling. I also liked his defense. Instead of hiding from the action, he stuck his nose right in the middle of what Phoenix tried to do. Johnson also was strong on the boards and ran the court hard.
It was a little bit of a strange night for Sochan. I thought his court vision was inexplicably poor; he missed five or six passes he needed to make. But, hey, you look at the final box score and Sochan had nine assists and only one turnover. He also took advantage of mismatches well by getting into the lane in order to utilize his size and athleticism. I also loved Sochan’s defense. This was without question his best defensive game of the year. If he had done a better job of finding open teammates, Sochan would have had a monster outing. As it was, he was still very impactful.
Okay, this was the Collins we were expecting after his strong preseason. He played really well across the board. He went 3-for-3 from deep to help spread the Suns defense. When he got the ball in the lane, he muscled his way to the rim. Collins also passed the ball great and was active on the boards on both ends. Defensively, I liked his mobility and how well he held up in the paint. Good work.
Jones was quietly darn good. Rebounding usually isn’t Jones’ main strength but his hustle on the glass was a game-changing attribute on this night. His toughness to battle for rebounds among the trees was inspiring. Jones’ passing was great. He made life easier for Wembanyama but also did well to spread the wealth. By pushing the pace and making the right pass, he routinely put San Antonio on the path to success. Add in a pair of three-pointers, four free throws and rugged individual defense and Jones couldn’t have played much better. He got hit in the face right before halftime and was shaken up. Thankfully, Jones was able to return in the second half because the Spurs probably don’t win this game without him.
I mean, one day Osman is going to cool off but for now this dude is a flamethrower. His three-point stroke couldn’t look better and he doesn’t hesitate to unfurl his jumper. Osman also runs the court well and uses his size to finish with purpose when on the move. On the other end, he competes on defense and can be relied upon to be in the right place.
Yikes. Everyone on the team will love what happened in Phoenix over the last two days — except Branham. After going 1-for-7 on Tuesday, he followed that up with a 1-for-7 showing on Thursday. With Vassell sidelined, the Spurs could have really used a few ounces of scoring punch from Branham. That didn’t happen. The silver lining was his passing. Branham saw the court well and made passes with pinpoint placement.
The good: McDermott hit a couple of important three-pointers when the Suns were getting back into it. That’s what the Spurs pay him to do and he did that well. The bad: McDermott’s poor defense was one of the reasons why Phoenix was able to rally back.
Bassey only played six minutes but I thought he looked okay. I liked his overall effort level. His decisions weren’t flawless but Bassey made his presence felt during his time on the court.
Pop did great this game. I thought the rotation was nearly perfect. I love that he let Wembanyama play more minutes than usual in order to get the win. It feels like it was unquestionably the right move. As far as the playcalling was concerned, Pop couldn’t have done much better. He found two or three plays that worked well and he ran those plays over and over and over again — all the way to the win.