Despite managing out outscore the Indiana Pacers in three-quarters of play, the San Antonio Spurs fell victim to their defensive woes once again.
How do you manage to win three quarters of a basketball game, including the first and the last, and still lose a game? By giving up 17 points to your opponent in the one quarter you failed to capitalize on. The San Antonio Spurs fell to the 12th seed in the Western Conference on Monday night after losing 111-116 to the Indiana Pacers.
The Spurs managed to regain their lead in the fourth quarter after their bench unit put together a masterful run. San Antonio was galvanized by a stretch of plays from Lonnie Walker IV including a vicious one-handed tomahawk that’s blowing up across NBA Twitter tonight. This jam accounted for two of his 10 points to go with four rebounds and three assists in 20 minutes.
Walker wasn’t the only bright spot for the shorthanded Spurs, who were without both LaMarcus Aldridge and Jakob Poeltl tonight. The heart and soul of the team, point guard Patty Mills came off the bench for 24 points on 13 shots including six made triples.
Curling off of screens and stepping out into space, Mills put on a masterful display of shot creation tonight that resulted in a team-best +12 plus/minus. He also made his presence felt on defense with three steals including a beautiful scoop and score off of an inbounds pass in the first quarter.
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Asked to bear a heavier load than usual, power forward Trey Lyles logged 38 minutes and scored 20 points for the second game in a row. His three-point shot has really come alive as of late, as Lyles made four-of-seven attempts from that range. More importantly, he held his own on defense and finished with two blocked shots, a steal and five of his six rebounds on the defensive end. With more responsibility, Lyles is showing his maturity and poise on both ends by doing everything his team needs of him at the most important time.
Tonight marked the first-career start for two-way center Drew Eubanks. This is the first time a two-way player has started a game in Spurs history. He didn’t do a whole lot in his 17 minutes, but he fought hard on both sides of the floor and finished with a bucket, a block and two boards.
San Antonio shot a better percentage from the field and from beyond the three-point line than Indiana, but committed too many clumsy fouls. They finished with eight fewer free throw makes on seven fewer attempts.
The Spurs hit the road tomorrow to face former Spurs assistant James Borrego, who’s the head coach of the Charlotte Hornets.