PHOENIX — The Spurs came into Phoenix with no rest, no DeMar DeRozan, no Jakob Poeltl, no Patty Mills, and nobody thinking they'd win.
Against all odds, they came out with a dominant 111-85 win over a now 40-16 team that had won nine home games in a row.
Phoenix hit a three to extend their run to 11-0, cutting San Antonio's lead down to 16.
Devin Vassell answered with his third triple of the game, Dejounte scored from in between, and Rudy Gay manufactured a few tough buckets to push the lead back to 20 with 7:31 to play.
As the final period went on, the margin got even bigger and the benches cleared.
San Antonio won 111-85,
Drew Eubanks set the tone physically, even against the much bigger Deandre Ayton. He sky-hooked over him, faked him out at the buzzer for an elbow jumper, then crammed a dunk. He tied Ayton up impressively on a dunk attempt.
White hit another three, Vassell drove n and spun back for an impressive shot, and Keldon continued to show his ability on the ball, scoring on tough drives and pull-up jumpers. He scored six in a row to give the Spurs their largest lead of the game at 85-58.
The Spurs built their lead out to 27, but Phoenix closed the quarter on an 8-0 run to make it 87-68 San Antonio.
San Antonio's deep-range attack continued, as Dejounte, Devin, Rudy and Lonnie all knocked down deep triples, and put the Spurs up 40-25 early.
Walker hit a pair of mid-range jumpers off the bounce, as did Murray, pushing the lead to 21.
Keldon Johnson got a few buckets as a pick and roll playmaker, something he hasn't done much in his NBA career.
White hit Eubanks with a lob for a high-flying jam, then drove in for a floater. Eubanks played great defense, then got another tip in.
The Spurs carried a 64-45 lead into the half, putting tremendous pressure on Phoenix to protect their home court.
Phoenix tested Luka Samanic and Drew Eubanks early, but they largely held up to the challenge. Samanic went through some growing pains offensively, but he'll have to experience them at some point.
He posted up the smaller Devin Booker and spun baseline to the rim, but stepped on it the line. Then he posted the hulking Ayton rather than facing up, resulting in a miss. He got stripped low and Pop called a timeout with the Spurs down 10-4 early. Samanic stayed in for a bit, demonstrating the long leash.
Derrick White swished a few triples, Keldon hit a couple of mid-range shots, and San Antonio trailed 15-14 when the bench unit came in. They closed the quarter on a 13-5 run.
Gorgui Dieng, hopefully finally healthy, got a quick offensive board and-1. He got another tip-in shortly after.
Lonnie Walker IV kicked to Devin Vassell for a corner three, then drew a foul. Tre Jones made a wild pass to the perimeter, Rudy Gay caught it and whipped it to Lonnie Mid-air, and walker drove hard before dumping it to Vassell for a powerful jam.
San Antonio led 28-19 after a surprisingly dominant opening quarter.
San Antonio Spurs vs. Phoenix Suns
When, where: Saturday, 9:00 p.m., Phoenix
All-time series record: Spurs lead 98-78
Last season: Spurs won 2-1
Season series: First matchup
Last meeting: Spurs lost 103-99, January 24, 2020
Suns' last game: Won vs. Kings, 122-114
Spurs' last game: Lost vs. Blazers, 107-106
Suns' last 10 games/streak: 9-1, won 4
Spurs' last 10 games/streak: 3-7, lost 2
Suns' injury/inactive report: None
Spurs' injury/inactive report: Trey Lyles, OUT (ankle); DeMar DeRozan, OUT (rest); Patty Mills, OUT (rest); Jakob Poeltl, OUT, (rest)
The Spurs are coming off consecutive disappointing losses against teams missing their best guys in Toronto and Portland. Tonight on short rest against a Suns team with nearly the best record in the league, San Antonio will rest DeMar DeRozan, Patty Mills, and Jakob Poeltl.
Gregg Popovich spoke before the game about finding opportunities to rest his guys in a grueling, unprecedented COVID year.
"As the season goes on, you look at schedule and minutes played, and people need to take a break," Pop said. "We did this with Dejounte a bit in the past, and these guys need it tonight. They've hit the wall in that sense, so hopefully they'll be a little fresher moving forward."
With two starters and a key bench piece out, young players like Devin Vassell and Luka Samanic should get some run, along with newly-signed big man Gorgui Dieng.
Vassell, an impressive rookie, didn't play in the previous two games. When asked if there were any injuries nagging him, Pop's response was simple.
"No. We played other guys," he said.
Pop will start Samanic and Drew Eubanks, putting a clear emphasis on player development for the night in a game where the Spurs are double-digit underdogs.