The San Antonio Spurs came roaring back against the Orlando Magic but it turned out to be too little, too late. The 108-98 loss dropped the Spurs to 10-38 on the season, while the Magic improved to 25-23 with the win.
Coming out of the gates, the Spurs performed really well. Their inspired play allowed San Antonio to jump out to an early lead. Unfortunately, the offense began to sputter near the end of the first quarter.
The offensive struggles continued in the second quarter and into the third quarter. When the Magic started rolling on offense, San Antonio found themselves in a deep hole. At their lowest point, the Spurs trailed by 25 points in the third quarter.
To San Antonio’s credit, they didn’t give up. With 7:35 remaining in the game, the Spurs were down by 18 points, 99-81. That’s when the good guys final got it going on both ends of the court and put together a 15-0 run in less than four minutes. Sadly, the comeback attempt ended there. Down by three points, the Spurs surrendered the game’s next six points and San Antonio ran out of time.
All in all, it was a frustrating loss. The offense looked good early and late but couldn’t do anything in the middle two quarters. Defensively, San Antonio was able to have success when the team was focused — but the necessary level of focus eluded the Spurs for much of the affair.
Stats: Spurs vs. Magic
Spurs vs. Magic – Final Grades
This was another game in which Wembanyama’s final statistics don’t tell the whole story. He finished with 21 points, eight rebounds, three assists and five blocks, while shooting well from the field (7-for-15), three-point territory (2-for-5) and the free throw line (5-for-5). However, his overall impact wasn’t quite as positive as those numbers suggest. Offensively, he wasn’t fighting for position as well as usual or running the court as hard as usual. Defensively, his help defense outside of the paint was slow. In the fourth quarter, Wembanyama simply wasn’t that good. He had two costly turnovers, managed only one field goal attempt in seven minutes and his defense was pedestrian. Has Wembanyama hit some sort of rookie wall? It’s very possible. He’s still producing but the sharpness of his game is lacking right now.
The good: Vassell hit half of his ten two-point attempts and 3-of-8 three-point attempts. He also got to the line ten times thanks mostly to a variety of bruising drives to the rim. Vassell had only one turnover and one foul in 37 minutes. The bad: Vassell had four assists but his playmaking was lacking much of the night. He was holding onto the ball too long and had trouble finding the correct passing angles. Defensively, his concentration was unsteady. When he got tired, he rested on the defensive end of the court.
In the first quarter, Sochan looked great. He scored nine points in the opening period on 4-for-5 shooting from the floor. He also impressed with six rebounds, strong defensive play and two emphatic blocks. He was playing fast but was making things happen right and left. As the night went along, his production slowed and his errors piled up. To his credit, Sochan rediscovered his footing in the fourth quarter and gave the Spurs mostly positive minutes down the stretch.
Defensively, it’s difficult to find faults with Jones’ play. He hustled back in transition, scooped up loose balls and rotated at lightning speed. Offensively, Jones was mostly okay — but could have done more. The Magic weren’t paying close attention to him yet he only attempted five field goal attempts in 35 minutes. To be at his best, Jones has to be more aggressive scoring-wise. When it came to passing the ball and making plays, San Antonio’s starting point guard did good work. He finished with eight assists and one turnover, with four of his assists coming in the fourth quarter.
Champagnie’s search for consistency as a starter continues. In 20 minutes versus Orlando, he went scoreless and missed all four of his field goal attempts. More movement and more assertiveness would help him offensively. On D, Champagnie made some plays but he also was a clear liability at times.
With Keldon Johnson out due to an elbow laceration, Osman received many of the extra minutes. He ended up not moving the needle very much. He scored eight points on eight shots and tallied three assists in 28 minutes. However, he was in the middle of a lot of action without a notable amount of production to show for it. Defensively, Osman could usually be found a step slow behind the action.
Barlow looked good once again. Offensively, he was playing with confidence. His touch, mobility and feel for the game are exciting traits for a 20-year-old big man. Defensively, Barlow is getting better and better at altering shots in the paint and he’s also quick enough to survive out in the deep water on the perimeter. It’s no longer crazy to ponder whether Barlow or Zach Collins (who missed another game due to ankle soreness) deserves the backup center minutes going forward.
Heading into the game against the Magic, Branham had recorded three consecutive DNP-CDs due to Blake Wesley winning the backup point guard job. But with Johnson out, the coaches decided to give Branham another chance in the rotation. His time on the court began with an ugly turnover but he eventually settled in and played okay-ish. Branham’s desperation level was higher than normal, which makes sense for a guy who is trying to win his job back. He made a few good decisions on offense and played harder on defense … but I can’t say Branham did enough to secure a spot in the rotation once Johnson returns.
I thought McDermott’s shot-selection was too loose, which resulted in an uncharacteristically poor 1-for-6 showing from the field. To make matters worse, not only did he miss all four three-pointers, the hired sharpshooter missed both of his free throws. McDermott’s defense was alright but he fumbled an opportunity to be a difference-maker by being a bit too greedy on offense.
This was the first game as San Antonio’s backup point guard where Wesley looked completely out of sync with his teammates. His passes missed the target more often than not. His play in transition was spotty and he never seemed comfortable making quick decisions. Defensively, Wesley was a lot better. He had a couple mistakes but his athleticism was making life difficult for the Magic.
Pop never found a unit that looked cohesive on the offensive end. The play-calling was also more bland than usual. Down the stretch, more imagination could have been useful. The play-calling also went away from Wembanyama as the game went along, which was a mistake in retrospect.