Grades: San Antonio Spurs vs. Philadelphia 76ers – Game #78

The San Antonio Spurs nearly notched another upset win against a playoff-bound foe but ended up losing to the Philadelphia 76ers in double-overtime by a final score of 133-126. The Spurs dropped to 19-59, while the Sixers improved to a record of 44-35.

In the first quarter, San Antonio struggled to string together positive possessions and trailed 31-24 heading into the second period. Things were mostly the same in the second quarter until Victor Wembanyama scored following an offensive rebound with 7:17 left before halftime. That bucket jump started a 28-4 run that helped the Spurs lead 64-54 at intermission.

The teams combined for just 35 points in a sluggish third quarter. In the fourth, both teams got going. With a minute remaining, it looked like the Spurs had the win in hand. But, unfortunately, back-to-back threes by the Sixers erased San Antonio’s five-point lead. Julian Champagnie responded with a three-pointer that gave the Spurs a two-point lead with two seconds remaining. Sadly, Tyrese Maxey scored two of his 52 points on a last second layup that sent the game into overtime.

In the extra sessions, the Spurs had a couple more opportunities to get the win but couldn’t quite get it done. Overall, though, I was again pleased with the competitiveness of the group. With a short-handed squad, the Spurs battled with all of their available might.

Stats: Spurs vs. 76ers

spurs 76ers grades

Spurs vs. 76ers – Final Grades

Victor Wembanyama

The good: It was another Wembanyama masterclass. He scored an uber efficient 33 points by shooting well from every distance. His three-point shot, specifically, looked as smooth as ever. When Wembanyama wasn’t scoring, he could often be found making a great pass. Defensively, the rookie was burly on the boards and bothered countless shots in the paint. All in all, Wembanyama was really productive — and a lot of the production came at key moments. The bad: Nine turnovers. That number speaks for itself. Wembanyama has to clean that up as his career unfolds. Stamina-wise, the rookie definitely hit a few roadblocks against the 76ers. Playing longer stretches at a high level is another thing on his to-do list going forward. When he gets tired, Wembanyama tends to make iffy shooting and passing decisions — which is typical of a rookie, even an otherworldly one.

Grade: A-

Keldon Johnson

It was a chaotic night at the ol’ office for Johnson. He had two notable moments. First, he accidentally bit Champagnie and made him bleed. Second, Johnson twisted his ankle and hopped to the locker room. The ankle injury looked bad enough that I’d be surprised if we see him again this season. As far as his basketball playing was concerned, Johnson didn’t do a lot right. He shot poorly, his decision-making was too self-centered and his mistakes piled up. Add in Johnson being a step slower than usual in his return from injury and it felt like he was actively hurting the team during a majority of possessions.

Grade: D+

Julian Champagnie

Other than the aforementioned bite, Champagnie had a successful outing. He went 3-for-6 from three-point land including a couple of key long balls. He was 2-for-4 on twos and 4-for-5 at the line. I liked his passing and decision-making on offense. His defense was a little bit more hit or miss but he rebounded well and made a few plays on that end. Champagnie’s play in recent weeks has been a notable improvement over his play from earlier in the season.

Grade: B

Tre Jones

Jones entered this game red-hot from three-point territory but, even though he didn’t hit one from deep, he still managed to put 17 points on the board and hit 8-of-15 two-pointers. His touch was deft and he authored a number of smart passes. Jones was once again helpful rebounding-wise. Unfortunately, there were some weaknesses. San Antonio’s starting point guard wasn’t careful enough with the ball. Jones rarely turning it over is part of what’s needed to make him a valuable player. Additionally, once Philadelphia trotted out bigger lineups, Jones’ lack of size of defense became more of a liability.

Grade: C+

Malaki Branham

To say Branham has been streaky in the three-point shooting department would be an understatement. Thankfully, he’s on a heater right now. The spacing Branham provided from downtown really aided the cause. The rest of his performance left quite a bit to be desired though. He wasn’t too impactful from inside the arc scoring- or passing-wise. Defensively, the effort was there but the positive possessions on that end were few and far between.

Grade: C

Devonte’ Graham

The good: Graham didn’t hesitate to shoot. When things got clogged, he was able to create a few shots for himself. His ball-handling and passing helped the flow of the offense. The bad: While he shot nine threes, Graham only connected on two. He also turned the ball over three times and wasn’t of much use on the defensive end.

Grade: C

Sandro Mamukelashvili

Although he was only 1-for-6 from the field, I thought Mamukelashvili did well. Offensively, his movement, heady passing and energetic ways kept things from getting bogged down. He also got to the free throw line and didn’t turn the ball over. Mamukelashvili is a smart, instinctual cutter, which is a good fit next to Wembanyama. Defensively, I thought he did better than usual. He rebounded and stayed in front of his man reasonably well. His help-defense was also disruptive at times.

Grade: B+

Blake Wesley

This was a step in the right direction for Wesley. Sure, a couple of his makes might have been lucky but I liked his aggression regardless. Wesley’s playmaking was less than usual but he also took much better care of the ball than we’ve seen in recent outings. Defensively, his liveliness was back on track but the Sixers had enough crafty players to take advantage of his youthful mistakes.

Grade: B

Zach Collins

Collins had played a cleaner brand of basketball lately but that wasn’t on display versus Philadelphia. Three turnovers and three fouls in 15 minutes is evidence that he could have been neater. Defensively, he could have rebounded better and moved his feet better — but he did block a couple of shots. Offensively, Collins should have mixed in more passes but he was reasonably productive without wasting too many possessions.

Grade: C+


Considering his limited roster, Pop did okay. Rotations-wise, I would have appreciated more Mamukelashvili but the rest of his decisions were fine. The play-calling was mostly positive but there were times where the Spurs struggled to get a good shot — or, more specifically, struggled to pass it to Wembanyama.

Grade: B