SAN ANTONIO —
The Spurs went on a 10-0 run in the final two minutes of regulation to tie the Brooklyn Nets as Dejounte Murray's miraculous buzzer-beater dropped, but San Antonio fell in the extra frame 124-113.
It was a strong showing for a Spurs team still without four key players due to coronavirus, playing against one of the top teams in the league even without Kevin Durant. San Antonio played a quality game against a quality opponent, and just didn't come up with the win.
"I thought they were great, they really worked hard, they've dug down deep all year, they never give in, and tonight was a good example."
"We laid it all out there, our effort defensively really picked up our effort offensively," said Lonnie Walker IV. "I'm really happy on how we played as a team, and did it the right, we just unfortunately didn't come up with the win."
The Spurs had done a decent job of keeping James Harden and Kyrie Irving from absolutely shooting the lights out for the first three quarters, but they combined for 31 points in the fourth quarter and overtime. Harden finished with 30 points, 15 assists 14 rebounds and no turnovers, while Irving added 27 points, 7 assists and no turnovers.
That superstar duo led Brooklyn and dropped dimes to guys like Bruce Brown and Nicolas Claxton, who finished with 23 and 17 points respectively. The Nets had 35 assists to just 5 turnovers as a team, and shot 41.4% from deep.
How did San Antonio stay in the game? The defense was about as solid as you can hope for against a team like the Nets, and they did a good job of keeping Harden off the foul line. Six Spurs scored in double figures, and DeMar DeRozan led the way with 22 points and 11 assists.
Murray, whose game-saving buzzer-beating heroics shouldn't disappear in the loss, finished with 19 points, 8 assists and 6 steals. Coach Popovich was impressed with this game, the end of regulation, and his season as a whole.
"He knew it had to the rim, he made a good choice getting rid of that darn thing, but he's been playing great all year long, just getting smarter and smarter, feeling more confident at the position, so it's all good.
Murray's backcourt partner Lonnie Walker IV had 19 points and hit a career-high five three-point shots in the game. He drew praise from Coach Pop afterward as well.
"He's playing pretty confidently, he's learning how to play the game, he's understanding what's going on, score, time, good shots, bad shots, being consistent defensively, he's doing all those things better."
Walker said that learning the game has helped him be more confident on the court.
"I've really just been doubling down on watching a ton of film, reading my players, consistently trying to build up my IQ to know what I can and cannot do, and have a decisive type of way offensively and do my thing defensively."
Another player growing into his role is Jakob Poeltl, who seems like he'll be the starting center moving forward. He had 14 points and 12 boards in the game, but his impact extended well beyond the box score as it always does. In February he was near the top of the league for screen assists and shot contests, and after the game he expanded on what he tries to do on the floor.
"I'm trying to be available wherever I can on offense, it's a lot of screens and trying to find gaps on drives for dump-offs and stuff," he said. "On defense I try to be all over the court. I think a lot of the time it comes down to being at the rim, trying to protect the basket, but I try to do a little bit of everything."
LaMarcus Aldridge had 21 points in the previous game off the bench, but didn't make a single field goal in 15 minutes of this one. He said after his first reserve appearance since his rookie season that it would be an adjustment.
Trey Lyles added 10 points and 7 rebounds in a start, and Patty Mills kicked in 14 points and 5 assists off the bench. Second-year player Luka Samanic had 8 points and 5 boards with a couple of threes, including one to tie at the end of the third quarter. Walker complimented his two way game, and the fluidity he shows on both ends is special for a 6'11" player.
The Spurs clawed and scrapped for 48 minutes and more against one of the NBA's true contenders and came away with a lot to be proud of. They ran out of gas in overtime, and we'll see how much they can put in the tank before playing against the Knicks on Tuesday.
Brooklyn opened the overtime period with an 8-0 run with a Kyrie Irving three, a James Harden layup and a Bruce Brown three. Jakob Poeltl hit a layup to put a stop to that, and Dejounte Murray drilled an open three to bring it back within one possession.
The Spurs left Irving open in the corner for his sixth triple. The Spurs turned it over, and after a foul Brown finished a floater. DeRozan lost the ball, and the Spurs called timeout down 121-113 with 1:26 to play. Popovich pulled his starters at that point.
San Antonio fell 124-113 in overtime. Harden finished with 30 points and 15 assists, while Irving added 27 points and 7 assists. Brooklyn only turned it over five times as a team.
After tying the game with a triple to end the third, Luka Samanic untied the game with a crafty cut and layup to start the fourth.
James Harden took it to the rim, and DeMar DeRozan answered at the free throw line. San Antonio forced a Harden miss, but DeRozan's transition layup attempt got swatted into the cardboard cutouts of fans.
Brooklyn ripped off a 7-0 run to take a six-point lead. DeRozan got to the rim with deft footwork to stop the bleeding, but only briefly.
Harden missed a three, knew that immediately, and chased his rebound into the hoop. Then on another second chance, he drove and dropped it to Kyrie Irving who drained his fourth triple of the game to make it 95-86 with 7:01 to play.
After a timeout Irving ran pick and roll and hit a free-throw line jumper, giving Brooklyn an 11-point advantage. DeRozan dished to Jakob Poeltl for a dunk, but Harden answered with a floater.
Harden pushed it to 12 with a triple, but the Spurs worked it to Lonnie Walker IV in the corner for a response. Harden scored in close, but on the other end Walker used a relaxed step back to drill another deep shot.
After a Kyrie miss, DeRozan drove in transition and got to the line to make it 104-98. Again, Harden made a great play moving to his left to float in a layup. Jakob Poeltl drew a foul rolling to the basket, but missed both.
DeAndre Jordan somehow hit both of his free throws at the other end, but Walker drilled a tough three. He missed his next attempt, but snagged a steal and started a break that ended in a three for Patty Mills. After another stop, DeRozan drove in transition and finished a layup to make it an 8-0 run.
San Antonio trailed 108-106 with 40 seconds left. Patty guarded Harden on the next possession, he got a switch and missed it, but the Nets got it back. After a non-shooting foul, Kyrie Irving got in close for a shot that would have iced it but missed.
With time ticking down and the Spurs down two, Dejounte Murray pushed in transition, nearly lost it, but recovered for a buzzer-beating jumper that hit nothing but the bottom.
The Spurs went to overtime tied at 108.
DeMar DeRozan picked up where he left off in the first half, finding Jakob Poeltl for a floater. Lonnie Walker IV hit a three off the bounce in pick and roll, but Kyrie Irving answered with a few free throws and a dime to Bruce Brown down low.
Walker hit Irving with a spin move and dropped in a floater over DeAndre Jordan.Murray drove and found Poeltl inside for a dunk, then he bumped Kyrie, spun and floated it in. Next he found Poeltl for another pop-a-shot in close, and Jak finished another on a feed from DeRozan. Walker found Murray in transition for easy points at the cup, and then Murray pulled up to give the Spurs a 73-72 lead.
Luka Samanic got two free throws and missed, and Keita Bates-Diop got called for a non-existent foul on the rebound. KBD tied it at 76 with a corner three from Murray, and finished a tip-in as well.
With time winding down in the quarter Murray drove and kicked to Samanic, who drilled his second three of the game to tie it at 81 before the buzzer.
Brooklyn built their lead to nine to open the second quarter, but San Antonio answered with an 11-2 run to tie the game.
Patty Mills hit a triple, LaMarcus Aldridge and Dejounte Murray got to the free throw line, Murray drove in for a layup, and Mills completed the loop with a layup to knot it at 32.
The Nets responded with a run of their own, outscoring the Spurs 11-3 to build their lead back out to seven. Nicolas Claxton made an impact inside for Brooklyn, and Pop called another timeout.
Joe Harris knocked down an open three to make it 46-36. Brooklyn built the lead up to 12, but a three each from Patty and Trey Lyles halved it. Lonnie Walker IV drilled one off the catch, but Kyrie Irving answered with his own three.
DeMar DeRozan decided to take it inside, drawing contact and floating in a layup for three the old fashioned way. After another lob by Brooklyn, DeRozan dropped in a jumper that gave him 15 points on 7-8 shooting at halftime.
San Antonio trailed 57-54 at the break after scoring 33 points in the second quarter.
DeMar DeRozan got the first basket of the game, posting up in the paint and hitting a soft short jumper. James Harden attacked him on the other end, driving left and finding DeAndre Jordan for a lob.
Dejounte Murray got off to a tough start, turning it over and missing a few jumpers before Lonnie Walker IV found him in transition for a driving layup through contact.
DeRozan found Trey Lyles outside for three, and Joe Harris answered on the other end. Jakob Poeltl grabbed an offensive board and hit Lonnie for a jumper, but Kyrie Irving hit a deep three to give Brooklyn a 10-9 lead as the Spurs called timeout.
Harden came out of the timeout and dimed to Bruce Brown for three, then hit him again for an open three, and Pop called another timeout.
This time the Spurs executed, with DeRozan attacking in pick and roll and finding Patty Mills fresh off the pine in the corner for three. The next trip down DeMar got all the way to the rim for a difficult scoop.
Irving answered with another three, then threw another lob to Jordan, then got to the free throw line attacking Poeltl in pick and roll.LaMarcus Aldridge and Luka Samanic came in with San Antonio down 21-14.
DeRozan pulled up and hit a jumper on Jordan, and Irving answered with a difficult stepback. On the other end, Mills found Samanic wide open for three, and he canned it.
San Antonio trailed 27-21 after shooting just 36% in the first quarter.
When, where: Monday, 7:30 p.m., San Antonio
All-time series record: Spurs lead 72-23
Last season: Teams split series, 1-1
Season series: First meeting
Last meeting: Nets won 139-120, March 6, 2020
Net's last game: Lost vs Mavericks, 115-98
Spurs' last game: Won versus Pelicans, 117-114
Net's last 10 games/streak: 8-2, lost 1
Spurs' last 10 games/streak: 6-4, won 1
Net's injury/inactive report: Kevin Durant: OUT (hamstring); Jeff Green: QUESTIONABLE (shoulder); Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot: QUESTIONABLE (knee); Tyler Johnson: PROBABLE (migraine).
Spurs' injury/inactive report: Devin Vassell: OUT (healthy and safety protocols); Quinndary Weatherspoon: OUT (health and safety protocols); Keldon Johnson: OUT (health and safety protocols); Rudy Gay: OUT (health and safety protocols); Derrick White: OUT (health and safety protocols).
The Spurs suited up for a tough matchup at home against the new-look Brooklyn Nets.
Kevin Durant is out, but the Nets are 8-1 without him because they have Kyrie Irving, James Harden, and a stable of reliable role players. The task of containing that pair of All Star guards will fall mainly to Dejounte Murray and Lonnie Walker IV.
Before the game, Spurs coach Gregg Popovich spoke about Nets coach Steve Nash as a competitor, and also touched on setting reasonable expectations for guarding the best scorers in the game.
"It is frustrating, but at some point you have to be realistic and it is what it is. The rules are tilted toward the offense, obviously, and that makes it a little easier for a talented player to have his way. It seems like offense wins," Popovich said. "Defense can keep you in games, and if you don't play defense it's going to be an ugly night, but to actually win the game, offense has become more important than it ever has in the past."
Jakob Poeltl is the starting center for San Antonio, providing a serious interior presence anchoring the defense. In February, Poeltl averaged 9 points and 9 rebounds per game, but had nearly three blocks to go with 6 screen assists and 16 shot contests. LaMarcus Aldridge scored 21 points in his second game off the bench to help beat New Orleans on Saturday.
What Brooklyn has in star power, they lack in interior defense. San Antonio will need to apply pressure at the rim, contain Harden and Irving, and beat Brooklyn's bench unit to pull off the upset.
DeRozan shines in return, Spurs beat Pelicans 117-114
Before Saturday night, DeMar DeRozan's last game was two weeks earlier. On the court, many of his teammates are out due to coronavirus. Off it, he's processing the recent death of his father, Frank.
Those were the circumstances under which DeRozan scored 32 points and dished 11 assists, leading a total team effort for a 117-114 win over the New Orleans Pelicans. The teammates and coach that already said he should have been an All Star expressed their admiration after the win.
"He just showed he's a real professional, a real vet. This is his happy place, and what he was going through, I could only imagine. I talked to him for the whole time he was gone, just try to let him know that I'm here for him, the team's here for him, we're brothers at the end of the day," said Dejounte Murray, who added 18 points, 7 rebounds, 7 assists and 3 steals. "It's good to have him back."