The San Antonio Spurs dominated late in the fourth quarter to win their eighth game of the season, a 131-127 victory over the Washington Wizards. The Spurs improved to 8-34 on the season, while the Wizards dropped to 7-34.
In the first three quarters, neither team found much traction. Scoring was easy on both sides of the court and neither team could string together enough stops to take a notable lead.
Heading into the fourth quarter, it was 100-100. Things quickly went south for the good guys in the final period. With five minutes remaining, the Spurs were down 12 points, 121-109. Following a timeout, Victor Wembanyama hit a jumper to start what would become a spirited 12-0 run to tie the game.
With a minute to go and the Spurs trailing by two points, Jeremy Sochan hit a three-pointer to give the Spurs the lead. After the Wizards scored on the other end, Sochan hit a pair of free throws to again put San Antonio up by a point. The Spurs finally got a couple stops and hit a few free throws to seal the win.
All in all, it was a successful outing. The Spurs didn’t play that well for most of the game but executed with precision in the clutch to notch a road win. For a young team, that’s good stuff regardless of the competition.
Stats: Spurs at Wizards
Spurs at Wizards – Final Grade
Out of the gates, Wembanyama looked a step slow and lacked his normal level of coordination. He kept battling and persevered through a stretch of sloppy. To his credit, Wembanyama got better and better as the game progressed. By the second half of the fourth quarter, he was an absolute beast who was hitting on all cylinders on both ends of the court. His ability to rise to the occasion is plain as day. Even when things weren’t going well for him against the Wizards, his passing and rim protection held up his value. When he was able to put it all together down the stretch, he played at a superstar level.
Vassell has done well to bounce back from a shooting slump. His shot-selection was better which allowed him to post an efficient 21 points. His passing and playmaking is looking as sharp as ever. Vassell turned the ball over more than usual and missed a couple free throws but he was still clearly an asset on offense. Defensively, he didn’t move the needle very much but surely wasn’t a main part of the problem on that end.
It looks like Sochan is beginning to find his rhythm. The point guard experiment didn’t work and he was in a funk for a bit after its cancellation … but now he’s regaining his footing. Against the Wizards, Sochan was finishing with power and athleticism. His spin move is becoming a weapon, especially when he’s moving with pace. His passing is helpful. In money time, he hit a big-time three-pointer and then buried two clutch free throws. Defensively, he’s starting to figure out how he can thrive. He’s moving his feet really well right and he’s backing down from no one. Well done.
For the first time in his career, Tre won a game in the battle of the Jones brothers. And it wasn’t by accident — he definitely outplayed Tyus. He missed all three of his three-pointers but was otherwise very good on the offensive end. His passing was outstanding, he pushed the ball up the court with purpose and his finishing in the lane was impressive. Defensively, his effort was great and his chasing down of loose balls really helped the cause. Jones’ grip on the starting point guard gig is very tight right now.
Champagnie is beginning to figure out how he can help out when he’s in the starting lineup. Three-pointers are always going to be his bread and butter but Champagnie also grabbed a few contested rebounds, blocked a couple shots and moved well without the ball. That said, his defensive fundamentals still have a lot of room for improvement — and the Wizards got some easy baskets due to his mistakes on that end. On the other end, Champagnie missed a couple passes he has to make.
Johnson had a strong game from off the bench. He missed all three of his long balls yet still found plenty of ways to positively impact the game. His burly drives got him points in the paint and got him to the free throw line. He rebounded with ferocity. His transition defense could have been better but his effort level in the halfcourt was higher than normal. Johnson played with an overflowing amount of energy but still managed to keep his miscues to a minimum. And even though he didn’t start, he was in at the end when the Spurs surged to the W.
The good: Collins passed the ball very well, flexed his muscles in the paint and was reliably in the right spots defensively. He avoided unwise fouls better than usual and only had one turnover in 20 minutes. The bad: Collins’ rebounding could have been much better. His perimeter defense was a step slow when switched off onto smaller players.
Osman’s defense was a liability. He wasn’t staying in front of penetrators and his rotations were slow. Offensively, there wasn’t much to complain about. He shot the perimeter shots he needed to shoot and led the bench unit with four assists. He also didn’t turn the ball over despite being in the middle of hectic action when he was on the court.
Man, Wesley is really looking better and better every time out. Offensively, his speed in the open court is a threat the defense is forced to worry about. His finishing has gone from a major liability to what now appears to be a strength. His passing is legitimately good and he takes care of the ball. Defensively, he’s even more impressive. He can apply pressure anywhere on the court, he’s always annoying in passing lanes and he doesn’t take plays off.
McDermott hit a three-pointer and had an assist in his ten minutes of playing time. Unfortunately, he gave back that production and more by playing bad defense. It seemed like the pace was too quick for him to keep up. McDermott also struggled to survive when he got stuck defending an athletic player.
Branham had a layup in transition but that was about the extent of his production. Wesley is breathing down his neck and may take all of his minutes soon.
Pop’s playcalling down the stretch was really impressive. Even before that, he broke out some plays we hadn’t seen much of so far this season. The rotation made sense. I like that he gave Wesley extra minutes. Saving up Wembanyama’s minutes for the final push worked out perfectly.