SAN ANTONIO - Former Spurs forward Jonathon Simmons had an enjoyable return to San Antonio on Tuesday, helping lead the Orlando Magic to a 103-98 victory against the Silver and Black in a preseason game at the AT&T Center.
Simmons finished with 20 points on 7-of-15 shooting, including 2-5 from the 3-point line, and dished out a game-high 10 assists.
Simmons played two seasons in San Antonio before signing with Orlando as a free agent this past summer. Tuesday's game was his first game at the AT&T Center since last May, when Golden State won Game 4 of the Western Conference Finals to complete a sweep of the Silver and Black.
"Very cool," Simmons said, when he was asked how the night went for him. "It was just cool to see the people. The basketball is a business, but they have some great guys and a great staff over here. That is mostly what it was."
Simmons visited with Spurs coach Gregg Popovich before the game.
"I had never been in his office before," Simmons said. "Pop is always trying to help me and give me knowledge, make sure I'm taking care of my money."
So what kind of team does Simmons think the Spurs are going to have this season?
"They will be all right," he said. "You all know the deal. They are going to be good. They are going to be great. It is all the system, and Pop thrives on, you all know."
Popovich spoke highly of Simmons before the game and said later that it was "great" to see him.
The Magic improved to 3-2 in the preseason and the Spurs slipped to 2-2. San Antonio closes out the preseason at Houston on Friday night and opens the regular season against the Minnesota Timberwolves on Oct. 18 at the AT&T Center.
LaMarcus Aldridge and Dejounte Murray led the Spurs in scoring with 16 and 15 points, respectively. Patty Mills and Rudy Gay had 13 points each.
Looking confident and relaxed, Aldridge hit 6 of 11 shots, including 1-3 from long distance and had four rebounds in 25 minutes. Murray had an impressive stat line, finishing with six rebounds, five assists and committing only two turnovers in 26 minutes.
"He's played real loose," Popovich said of Aldridge, "Especially on offense, he looks real comfortable. He's getting the ball in good positions and has done a fine job of being a real stalwart at the offensive end of the court. Just like last year, he's working hard defensively. He's having a really good beginning."
Told of Popovich's comments, Aldridge said: "I feel really comfortable right now and I think Pop has made some tweaks to help me feel more comfortable, so I think it all goes to him. (I got) some different looks out there, and I can touch it from different spots. It's been helping me out."
Aldridge also talked about going against Simmons, who dazzled Spurs fans the past two seasons with spectacular plays on both ends of the court.
"Well, you know it's fun," Aldridge said. "We know his game. He's active and going to have fun with it. He's going to try to make highlight reels and things like that, so it was just fun for us."
Orlando forward Aaron Gordon finished with a game-high 27 points and 11 rebounds. The Magic played without starters Terrence Ross (strained right hamstring), Evan Fournier (sprained right ankle) and Nikola Vucevic (rest). D.J. Augustin (rest) and Marreese Speights (rest) also sat out.
The Spurs were still without starting point guard Tony Parker and All-NBA forward Kawhi Leonard, who are rehabbing injuries.
Backup forward/center Joffrey Lauvergne had another solit game for the Silver and Black, finishing with six points, seven rebounds and five assists in 15 minutes. Gay and Pau Gasol also had seven rebounds.
Gasol singled out Lauvergne for his passing after the game.
"I think it does come out more because of the unselfishness and the cutting from our players," Gasol said. "Patty (Mills) and Manu (Ginobili) are great cutters, great off-the-ball players, so if you're willing, the pass is there. So, I think Joffrey is doing a good job recognizing who's open and looking for those guys and being efficient with it, which is something that we would like to continue to see from everyone."
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