DETROIT — Coach Gregg Popovich said that his guys learned a lesson about falling behind early, but applauded the way they fought all the way back before losing to the Pistons 115-105 in the second game of the preseason.
"Played really badly in the first quarter at both ends of the court in all kinds of ways, but they kept competing and they got themselves back in the game," Popovich said. "That's a great sign, they've got good character even though we technically weren't playing well."
San Antonio gave up 39 points in the first quarter and fell behind by 17 before Bryn Forbes led the comeback with a flamethrower from three, finishing with 20 points in the loss. Thad Young and Al-Farouq Aminu made their debuts for the Spurs, and Lonnie Walker IV locked in at the start of the game, scoring at a high level.
The two-way struggle for the Spurs can be attributed in part to rust, and to new player getting to know each other, but it also points to the truth that Dejounte Murray will be incredibly important for this team on both ends, as he may be the best player on each end. He is the key to the turnover battle, which San Antonio lost 17-10 in this contest.
Pop also noted that Detroit won the physicality battle.
Forbes hit 6-8 from deep, but the rest of the team shot just 6-27 from beyond the arc, which just won't cut it. The good news is players like Derrick White, Lonnie Walker IV, and Doug McDermott are all much better shooters than they've shown through two preseason games.
The team defense allowed no more than 25 points to the Jazz in any quarter, but gave up 30 or more to the shorthanded Pistons in the first, third and fourth. Missing Murray was a big issue, and the rotation changed outside of that as Coach Pop tried different things and got his first look at Young and Aminu. Each had 5 points and a three, and Young added 8 boards and 3 assists.
San Antonio came all the way back, and Keldon Johnson did his best to keep them in it in the fourth, but the Pistons ran away with it late.
Lonnie Walker IV made an immediate impact as a starter, pulling up for three after running pick and roll and then creating space with a pump fake on a drive to score the first five points of the game for San Antonio. He surpassed his scoring total from the preseason opener in the first two minutes of this one.
Many have questions about the defense of Doug McDermott, but he started a big play for the Spurs with his individual defense on Jerami Grant, slowing his drive and giving Jakob Poeltl and Derrick White time to collapse as well. The ball popped out, White saved it ahead to Walker, and Walker found Keldon Johnson who dunked it rather hard.
Walker hit a floater and bumped his scoring total to 7, then hit Bryn Forbes for a three. Derrick White added 5 points of his own.
Thaddeus Young checked into the game, playing his first minutes for the Spurs after coming over in the DeMar DeRozan sign and trade. He got on the board with his first bucket quickly.
San Antonio's defense gave up too many threes and Detroit hit 7-10 in the period as they built a 39-22 lead. The Spurs held Utah under 25 points in each quarter to start the preseason.
Bryn Forbes started the second by hitting his second, third, and fourth three point attempts, keying an 11-2 run that forced a timeout by Detroit.
The only basket he didn't make in that run, he dished it to Lonnie who attacked decisively and finished strong.
Forbes isn't known as a defender, but he managed to prevent a layup on a 2-on-1 break and force a turnover with pressure.
McDermott came off a screen and hit his first triple in a Spurs uniform, cutting the deficit to five.
Derrick White, Keldon Johnson, and Devin Vassell all scored, and San Antonio completely erased the 17-point lead the Detroit built.
Al-Farouq Aminu got his first action for the Spurs, and dished to Devin Vassell for his second made three of the game.
San Antonio trailed 54-51 at the half after outscoring Detroit 29-15 in the second.
Doug McDermott came off a screen and floated one home off a feed from Derrick White, then passed to Jakob Poeltl who put the Spurs in front 55-54. McDermott hit a mid-range jumper on another feed from White to push the lead to three, but the Pistons rattled off eight straight points to get the lead right back.
Bryn Forbes started the second half, drilling a triple and then a mid-range pull-up to tie the game back up at 62. The Pistons responded with an 14-2 run, with former Spur Trey Lyles nailing a couple of corner threes.
Keldon Johnson responded, eurostepping through contact and hitting the layup and the free throw to cut the deficit to single digits. Detroit scored, but Johnson drove right back to the rim and answered.
Detroit led 84-76 heading to the fourth.
Keldon Johnson did his best to keep the Spurs in it to start the fourth, scoring 7 points before the Pistons ran away with it.
There were some decent things that came out of garbage time for the Spurs. Thad Young hit a three from the wing, Bryn got to 20 points for the game, and Luka Samanic came off the bench and scored three buckets in close in about a minute.
San Antonio lost 115-105.
The San Antonio Spurs are in Detroit for their second preseason game, looking to build on a 111-85 win over Utah.
Dejounte Murray was not listed on the injury report, but Lonnie Walker IV filled in his spot in the starting lineup. Murray scored a team-high 17 points in the win to open the preseason, and it seems like a rest night for him that will allow the Spurs to evaluate other guys.
Walker showed a bit of rust as he shot just 1-7 from the floor coming off the bench in the opener, but he played solid defense on Donovan Mitchell and made good decisions with the ball.
Much like the Jazz were in the opener, the Pistons will be shorthanded in this game. Top pick Cade Cunningham won't be participating, and Killian Hayes is out with an ankle sprain.
Before the game, Gregg Popovich called Thaddeus Young a pro and talked about the fun group of players in the San Antonio locker room.
“Personalities really enter into this no matter what’s going on, but with this particular season, with all of its odd happenings and situations that do arise, having the personalities that we have really makes it tolerable and enjoyable. If everybody was a deadhead or no fun at all, it’d be really awful. You’re spending a lot of time in your room, so you don’t get a lot of that comradery at practices or at dinners or anything like that. Having these young guys, with their vibrancy, is really uplifting for everybody.”