The San Antonio Spurs lost their first game of the Rodeo Road Trip. In Miami against the Heat, the Spurs fell by a final score of 116-104. San Antonio dropped to 10-41 on the season, while Miami now sports a record of 28-24.
For the first three quarters of the game, this was an amazingly tight contest. Neither team was able to gain any sort of traction. Sadly, things went sour in the fourth quarter.
Entering the final period, the good guys were down by a point. However, in the first four minutes of the fourth, the Heat outscored the Spurs 14-4 — and Miami would never look back. San Antonio had a few runs down the stretch but the Heat were never truly in trouble.
All in all, there was definitely some good in this game. For the first three quarters, the Spurs played really well and they entered the fourth quarter in a position to steal a road win. It didn’t happen — but the competitiveness was good.
Stats: Spurs at Heat
Spurs at Heat – Final Grades
Production-wise, Wembanyama was more than fine. He finished with 18 points, 13 rebounds and three assists in 28 minutes of action. He hit 4-of-8 two and 3-of-5 threes and only fouled once in 28 minutes. As the numbers suggest, he was a beast on the boards and his offensive efficiency stood out on a night when San Antonio had trouble putting points on the board. That said, beyond the numbers, Wembanyama had some flaws. His decision-making was iffy on offense. Sometimes he didn’t give the ball up soon enough. Other times he passed the ball when he had a clear advantage. Defensively, his impact on that end was definitely more muted than normal.
Entering this game, Vassell had been on fire from three-point range in his last ten contests. Unfortunately, he hit only one of six tries from deep against the Heat. The good news is that Vassell remained valuable on offense by getting to the hoop and scoring in the midrange. Passing-wise, I’d grade him as average or slightly below average. Defensively, Vassell was a bit better than usual. He was active and attentive on that end.
In his last three games, Sochan is now 0-for-11 from three-point range. Even more damaging is the fact that he has lost so much confidence in his perimeter jumper that he’s timid about firing. Against the Heat, he did a bit of good. He finished well, had a couple good passes and his hustling on both ends was applause-worthy. Sochan’s defense as a whole was a plus. But, yeah, when Sochan is a liability on offense, it’s difficult to justify having him on the court.
Jones had an average outing. His assists were lower than usual and he turned it over more than usual but he handled the playmaking duties relatively well. He could have been sharper in that department, though. Jones regained some value by pouring in 19 points on efficient shooting. His stubbornly effective drives to the hoop really helped against a swarming Heat defense.
Finishing 2-for-7 from the field isn’t great but, in general, I like how Champagnie played. He hit a couple three-pointers and didn’t hesitate to fire when open. Champagnie crashed the glass with more vigor than usual, he made good passing decisions and was active on the defensive end. His defense was far from perfect but he’s definitely improving on that end of the court. When Champagnie refuses to blend into the background, he’s a more useful player for this Spurs team.
Johnson didn’t do a whole lot of things right. Offensively, he held onto the ball too long, missed open passes and was inefficient when calling his own number. Johnson was 0-for-4 from three-point range and didn’t have an assist in 25 minutes of play. There was a stretch this season in which Johnson was making a reliable number of plays on a nightly basis — but that’s not the case right now.
Osman was solid. He pushed the pace, knocked down a pair of threes and kept the energy up on the defensive end. He moved his feet well and pulled down boards. It’ll be interesting to see if the Spurs trade Osman at the deadline because while he fits on the Spurs, he could also fit on a number of contenders.
Collins was definitely better than his last couple outings. He made better decisions, avoided miscues and stayed within the flow of the game plan. Collins also passed the ball well and rebounded adequately. There were a few instances where he should have shot the ball but this was a step in the right direction — even though Collins had five fouls in 17 minutes.
Wesley had a lot of strong plays as the team’s backup point guard. His passing was really good, particularly when he was on the move. He had only one turnover and hit both of his shots from the field. Unfortunately, there were some bad moments too. Wesley was only 1-for-4 from the free throw line and got benched after an unwise foul on a three-point shooter. All in all, I thought Wesley did well and he continues to provide a spark.
If this was McDermott’s last game for the Spurs, he went out with another three-pointer in ten minutes of action. He could have had one or two more but missed a pair of open looks from deep. Defensively, he held up pretty well. We’ll know soon whether this was the end for his Silver and Black days.
Branham got some extra playing time when Wesley got benched. I didn’t like most of what I saw. He hit a three but that was just about the extent of his positives. He missed easy shots, had a couple bad turnovers and his defense was very porous. I can’t imagine this outing moved the needle in the right direction for Branham in the eyes of the coaches.
Mamukelashvili got three minutes of garbage time and made things happen — as he’s known to do.
I thought Pop’s playcalling could have been a lot better. Wembanyama didn’t get enough touches in important stretches of the game, particularly in the fourth quarter. This hasn’t been a problem as much in recent weeks — so it was a development that was unfortunate to see.