It wasn’t the prettiest execution, but the San Antonio Spurs pulled out the 108-107 victory over the Chicago Bulls on Monday evening.
The lowly Bulls (5-16) are one of the worst teams in the Eastern Conference, so this Monday evening matchup seemed like a gimme for the Gregg Popovich-led Spurs. This wasn’t the case as San Antonio (10-10) barely willed out the victory off of a terrific fourth quarter effort by All-NBA power forward LaMarcus Aldridge.
The 33-year-old finished the night with 20 points on 8-of-12 shooting from the field along with eight rebounds, two steals and two blocks. LA scored 11 points in the fourth quarter including a monstrous and-one dunk with 2:13 left in the game.
With this victory, San Antonio improves to 9-0 when Aldridge scores 20 or more points.
Unfortunately, LA’s free throw was the last point San Antonio scored in the fourth quarter as the Bulls went on a 6-0 run to close out the game. Point guard Bryn Forbes made an errant inbound pass with 0.9 seconds left. Bulls point guard Ryan Arcidiacono, who dueled with Forbes all night, stole the ball and missed an 18-foot jumper on the baseline that would’ve given Chicago the victory.
Forbes finished with 13 points on 5-of-11 shooting along with a team-high six assists while Arcidiacono tacked on 22 points and two steals of his own.
In what was one of his more quiet games of the season, shooting guard DeMar DeRozan scored a team-high 21 points on 50 percent shooting from the field. He tied Aldridge with eight boards in the contest in addition to five dimes.
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Popovich’s second unit was largely responsible for the win, outscoring the Chicago bench 44-to-14. As usual, veteran Spur Patty Mills came up huge with 17 points on 70 percent shooting. In just 18 minutes off the bench, center Jakob Poeltl hit all five of his shots for 10 points, four rebounds and four assists off the pine.
Though the Spurs have been one of the league’s more efficient three-point shooting teams through 20 games, they hit only 33 percent of their shots from behind the arc tonight. Marco Belinelli, Davis Bertans and DeRozan shot a combined 1-of-13 from three against a middling Bulls defense.
In the midst of a breakout season, Chicago combo guard Zach LaVine torched San Antonio for 28 points, eight rebounds and seven assists in the contest. To combat his red-hot scoring, the Spurs forced the fifth-year stud into six turnovers.
San Antonio will get one day to strategize before heading to Minnesota on Wednesday night. After taking care of business at home in the season opener against this squad, Pop needs to figure out how to contain the Wolves’ dynamic offense with Robert Covington and Dario Saric.
Now at .500 once again, the Spurs control their own destiny. It’s time to kick the team into high gear and string together some wins.