SAN ANTONIO — After dominating the first half and surviving an impressive late run by Chicago, the Spurs won 120-104 and handed Gregg Popovich win number 1,300 as a head coach.
San Antonio had seven guys score in double figures behind Jakob Poeltl, who tied his career high with 20 points. They moved to 23-20 on the season, and after the game Coach Pop praised the ball movement, shot making, and defensive intensity in the win.
DeMar DeRozan, Derrick White and Dejounte Murray combined for 22 assists and just 4 turnovers as a trio, and Poeltl was a huge beneficiary who finished 8-9 from the floor. White and Murray both spoke after the game about the target that Peoltl has become.
Murray spoke abut the toughness of White, who chipped a tooth again in the previous game as he seems to always be putting his body in harm's way. He joked that he needs a punch card for his dentist because he goes so much.
Poeltl credited his guards with getting him the ball where he likes it, and helping him get into a zone.
Drew Eubanks opened the fourth with a few trips to the foul line, but missed half of his four attempts. He then drew two more loose ball fouls, putting the Spurs well on their way to an early bonus.
Patty Mills bailed out a stagnant offensive possession with a triple to put the Spurs back up 25 with under 10 minutes to play. The Spurs missed a few shots as Chicago got hot, opening the last quarter on a 10-5 run to cut it to 16. That was part of a 30-10 run for the Bulls
Keldon Johnson pushed the lead back to 20 at the free throw line, but the Bulls cut it back with a triple. Derrick White drew a foul on the floor, but went to the line thanks to the early bonus and hit both.
Chicago cut it to 12 with just over 6 minutes to play, as the Spurs were forced to put DeMar DeRozan back in.
Dejounte Murray got a switch on a big and drove in for a layup, but the Bulls answered. Jakob Poeltl posted up and took it all the way in drawing free throws, but missed both.
Vucevic hit a three, cutting San Antonio's lead to nine, and the Bulls swatted an attempt by DeRozan into the tenth row. The Spurs got it back though, and DeMar pump faked and hit a jumper through contact, and-1 to put the Spurs back up by 12.
Poeltl set a screen for White, rolled hard, and hit a reverse layup through a foul in a huge moment. He missed the free throw, but it still put the Spurs up 14. Vuc went at Poeltl in the post, and Jak stuffed him on a jumper. He got back to the line and made it 113-98 with under 4 minutes to play. Chicago kept fouling him, and he kept hitting only one of two.
It was a 7-0 run for San Antonio that functionally extinguished Chicago's hopes for a comeback. Derrick drew a charge in transition, then knocked down a corner triple, and the Spurs went back up 16 as bench guys came in.
DeMar DeRozan cut, caught a pass from Derrick White, and pulled up for a paint jumper to open the second half. White took a long looping drive baseline, then dished to Keldon Johnson for an easy bucket in close.
Dejounte Murray passed to DeMar, who got the angle he wanted and drove in deliberately to cram down a dunk. Keldon cut to the rim for a mid-air adjustment into a scoop layup on a feed from Murray, then Murray drove in for another layup of his own.
Murray missed a leaning fader in the paint, but Jakob Poeltl grabbed the board and put it in through contact, hitting the free throw to put the Spurs back up 30. He coughed it up, but immediately ripped a steal and hit Derrick White for a corner three.
Keldon got the ball in transition, and the Spurs pushed their biggest lead to 35 on an 8-0 run. Murray hit another mid-range jumper as the offense that had been struggling continued exploding against Chicago.
Poeltl finished another feed in close, and Rudy Gay blocked a shot in the post, hit another three, and got to the line to give San Antonio their biggest lead of the game at 36.
Zach LaVine finished an alley-oop slam, then drilled a three, but he looked a bit hobbled and Patty Mills answered from deep. LaVine kept at it though, hitting a wing jumper and getting to the line. He scored 9 in a row for Chicago, but that only cut their deficit to 30. The Bulls closed the quarter on a 13-2 run, making it 96-73 heading to the fourth.
Rudy Gay drained a pull-up jumper in pick and roll, and Devin Vassell blocked at least one shot and impacted another, sending the ball the other way where Gay passed to Patty Mills in the corner for three, giving San Antonio their biggest lead yet at 38-22.
Vassell seemed to tweak his ankle and got a nice driving basket, but limped into the locker room. Dejounte Murray ran a physical pick and roll, got to the elbow and threw in a tough jumper.
Gay got what looked like a clean block, gave the official a hall of fame look and a hug after, and the Spurs won a challenge on the call.
Patty drove, dropped it off to a cutting Derrick White, who occupied the defense and dished to Drew Eubanks for an easy dunk.
Gay hit a triple, then a mid-range basket, and after another stop White hit another three to put the Spurs up 54-27. Jakob Poeltl finished a rolling layup from White, then another from DeRozan, and the Spurs took a 31-point lead after an 18-0 run.
DeRozan posted up, created space, and converted an and-1. At the end of the half he ripped another steal, then drilled a post fade to put San Antonio up 65-39 at halftime.
San Antonio built a 21-11 lead behind strong play from their starting backcourt. Dejounte Murray hit a number of mid-range jumpers and dished to Derrick White for a catch-and-shoot triple.
White finished at the rim on a feed from DeMar DeRozan, and Jakob Poeltl finished a few passes inside from Murray and White.
Keldon Johnson made a few screaming attempts at the rim, and DeRozan took a back seat, with 4 assists and 3 steals to just two baskets early. Patty Mills nailed a triple to put San Antonio up 13.
The Spurs led 33-20 after the first quarter, with six players between 4 and 6 points.
When, where: Saturday, 7:30 p.m., San Antonio
All-time series record: Spurs lead 56-35
Last season: Bulls won 110-109
Season series: Bulls lead 1-0
Last meeting: Bulls won 106-99, March 17, 2021
Bulls' last game: Lost vs. Cleveland, 103-94
Spurs' last game: Lost vs. Clippers, 98-85
Bulls' last 10 games/streak: 4-6, lost 2
Spurs' last 10 games/streak: 4-6, lost 4
Bulls' injury/inactive report: Daniel Theis, OUT (personal); Zack LaVine, ACTIVE, ankle
Spurs' injury/inactive report: Lonnie Walker IV, OUT, (wrist); Keita Bates-Diop, OUT (hamstring).
The San Antonio Spurs have struggled to score the ball in recent games, and they're looking to bounce back against a Bulls team in a similar slump.
There may be an increased emphasis on moving the ball, an area where they've struggled a bit in recent games.
"All coaches are happy if they get up into the 20s for assists," coach Gregg Popovich said. "You end up with a game of 13 or 16 assists, you think the ball probably stopped too much."
Popovich said that Lonnie Walker IV is recovering slowly but surely from a wrist injury, and he could be out for another week. He also spoke about LaMarcus Aldridge, who has reportedly signed with the Brooklyn Nets after being bought out by San Antonio.
"Wherever LaMarcus goes, we wish him well. He was a wonderful teammate, and he'll do a very good job in Brooklyn, he's familiar with the staff up there, so we wish him well if that's where he ends up," Popovich said.