Grades: San Antonio Spurs vs. Detroit Pistons – Game #39

No Devin Vassell. No Keldon Johnson in the second half. No problem. The San Antonio Spurs (13-26) defeated the Detroit Pistons (11-31) by a final score of 121-109 in the AT&T Center on Friday night.

The Spurs led for a majority of the game — even without arguably their two best players. San Antonio entered the fourth quarter with a ten-point advantage. The Pistons got within five points but Stanley Johnson answered with a three-pointer. Later a Malaki Branham three-pointer thwarted another run by Detroit and put the game to bed.

All in all, it was a pretty impressive win by the good guys. They didn’t have much talent on their end of the court but they played together, made smart decisions and found a way to get a win.

Spurs vs. Pistons – Final Grades

spurs pistons grades

Keldon Johnson

Johnson didn’t play after halftime due to a hamstring injury. While he was on the court, he did fine. He hit all three of his two-points and missed all three of his three-pointers to finish with eight points in 13 minutes. With the Spurs playing a back-to-back tomorrow, it’s unlikely that Johnson will be able to bounce back from a hamstring injury in time to play.

Grade: B

Jakob Poeltl

Poeltl’s production across the board was really impressive. The Austrian put up a lot of crooked numbers, finishing with 11 points, 16 rebounds, seven assists, three blocks and two steals in 32 minutes. As his statistics suggest, Poeltl was very active in all aspects of the game. He was dominant in the paint on both ends of the court and his aggressive decision-making was a plus on this night.

Grade: A

Tre Jones

Without Vassell and Johnson, Jones was the de facto go-to scorer for the Spurs. He responded with 25 points on 11-for-18 shooting from the floor. His speed, flexibility and determination allowed him to get to the rim and finish at a high rate. While passing wasn’t as much of a priority as it usually is for Jones, I liked his defense and the leadership he exhibited.

Grade: A

Jeremy Sochan

The good: Sochan continues to figure out ways to positively impact the proceedings on the offensive end. His movement, passing and athleticism allow him to shine even when his perimeter shooting isn’t cooperating. I liked his defense against Detroit. The bad: Sochan totaled five turnovers in 27 minutes due to sloppiness. In his last eight games, he has failed to hit a three-pointer in seven of those games.

Grade: B-

Romeo Langford

Langford scored San Antonio’s first points and that turned out to be an early sign that he was locked in mentally. When Langford is playing hard and focused, he can do damage on the court. Against the Pistons on Friday night, his aggression on offense resulted in 15 points in 29 minutes. When he gets it going, Langford can put up points in a hurry. Defensively, he remained attentive against Detroit and made a few key plays on that end.

Grade: A

Malaki Branham

This felt like it could go down as a turning point game for Branham. The rookie missed his first four shots from the floor and his confidence was obviously rattled. But instead of becoming extremely passive, Branham kept playing hard. He finished the game by hitting his final four shots and ended up leading the bench with 14 points. By the fourth quarter, Branham was making big play after big play — including a few notable stops on the defensive end. If he can learn how to remain confident even when things aren’t going his way, the rookie could start to stack big performances.

Grade: A-

Doug McDermott

McDermott continued to do what the Spurs pay him to do: provide spacing via shooting and spacing. He was extra lively against the Pistons and even looked decent-ish on the defensive end.

Grade: B+

Josh Richardson

Richardson has figured out his best role on this team. He doesn’t need to be a main facilitator, he just needs to be a secondary playmaker who takes smart shots and makes the right pass. He has also increased his effort level defensively in recent outings.

Grade: B+

Stanley Johnson

Interestingly, Johnson wasn’t in the rotation in the first half. He didn’t play at all in the game’s first 26 minutes. However, due to his rock solid play on both ends of the court, Johnson ended up playing 17 of the game’s final 22 minutes. Johnson hit twine on all three of his three-pointers and continued to show off his heady passing. Defensively, his combination of strength, quickness and toughness makes him an asset. Why wasn’t he in the rotation in the first half. I … don’t know.

Grade: A-

Zach Collins

Collins hit all five of his free throws, authored a few slick passes, rebounded well, protected the rim well and rolled with purpose. He had a couple of bad fouls and his perimeter defense was substandard at times — but, overall, Collins can once again be proud about the way he played.

Grade: B+

Isaiah Roby

Pop gave Roby a spot in the rotation tonight against the Pistons. He wasn’t terrible but I also can’t say he moved the needle in a positive direction. Roby remains an impressive athlete but he’s a work in progress when it comes to knowing how to play this sport.

Grade: C+


Any win without Vassell and K. Johnson requires good coaching. Pop pushed the right buttons tonight. I liked how he leaned on Sochan and Branham. I liked that S. Johnson was rewarded with bonus minutes in the second half. With the Spurs playing on Saturday, it’s impressive that Pop didn’t play anyone more than 32 minutes tonight.

Grade: A-