Jan 27, 2021; San Antonio, Texas, USA; San Antonio Spurs guard Dejounte Murray (5) passes the ball against Boston Celtics guard Marcus Smart (36) during the fourth quarter at AT&T Center. Mandatory Credit: Scott Wachter-USA TODAY Sports
The San Antonio Spurs were able to close out a clutch win over Boston
Massive point swings were the flavor of the evening as the San Antonio Spurs hosted the Boston Celtics on Wednesday night. The two teams went at it in an action-packed 48 minutes that featured plenty of long runs and exciting lead changes.
A quarter by quarter breakdown of how the Spurs play paints an interesting picture. They’re horrible in the first and third quarters but during the second and fourth quarters, San Antonio comes alive. That trend held true last night.
As has been the tradition, the Spurs dug themselves into an early hole. But after a stern scolding from Gregg Popovich during a timeout, San Antonio rode a 29 to 6 run into the break. By that point, they’d crawled back from their deficit and went into the second half with a comfortable 61-47 lead.
The lead didn’t last long as San Antonio let Boston thoroughly dominate the 3rd to the tune of a +16 point differential. But the 4th quarter has belonged to the Spurs. The 4th is usually DeMar DeRozan‘s time to shine it belonged to Dejounte Murray.
Dejounte Murray leads the San Antonio Spurs down the stretch
Did you hear it? Could you feel them start to slink out of hiding? As the Spurs were getting blown out in the third quarter, the Anti-Dejounte Murray Club started to assemble. And just as they were getting their wheels turning, Murray shut them down.
It’s true, Murray wasn’t having a great game up until the fourth. He didn’t make any of his shots in the first half but still had an impact on the game by ripping down rebounds and handing out assists. But in the fourth, he started to turn it on and showed off the multi-leveled scoring game he’s been building.
He showed a soft touch around the glass, used his length to get inside and float a shot over his man, and even nailed a pull-up jumper right in Marcus Smart’s face. But he was still saving his best for last. Just as Kemba Walker was getting ready to try to tie the game, Murray stepped in and flipped things around.https://videos.nba.com/nba/pbp/media/2021/01/27/0022000280/607/dc9befef-c8dc-34f2-536b-4b816d48f9ec_1280x720.mp4
It wasn’t Murray’s best game I’ll grant you that, but he didn’t let his slow start distract him from the end goal. That kind of focus is just another example of the growth we’ve seen from him over the past year.
It’s been Dejounte’s show for weeks now but he won’t have to go at it alone soon. Derrick White should be back this weekend and how that impacts Murray is going to be one of the key stories to watch in the coming days.
Next: The two-way impact of Keldon Johnson
Jan 27, 2021; San Antonio, Texas, USA; San Antonio Spurs forward Keldon Johnson (3) shoots the ball against Boston Celtics center Robert Williams III (44) during the second quarter at AT&T Center. Mandatory Credit: Scott Wachter-USA TODAY Sports
Keldon Johnson led the San Antonio Spurs second-quarter charge
After making a mistake early in the game, signs of frustration were showing in Keldon Johnson. Midway through the second quarter, he angrily swung a fist at the net as he walked into a San Antonio Spurs timeout and sat down, his normally present smile replaced by a glare.
After the timeout, Keldon logged a stretch of minutes that completely swung the momentum in the Spurs’ favor. It seemed like no matter which end of the floor he was on, Keldon was finding a way to have an impact.
He shut down Jaylen Brown, getting his body into him and holding his ground, forcing Brown into tough mid-range shots. Not satisfied with merely erasing Brown’s ability to get a good shot off, Johnson was ripping down the defensive rebound more often than not.
He pulled in four of his ten rebounds during a short three minute stretch of the second quarter to help the Spurs carry a ton of momentum going into halftime.
On offense, Johnson was crashing the boards and getting into the paint. Nearly all of his points came in the paint tonight as rampaging to the rim continues to be Keldon’s preferred method of scoring points. Hey, if it’s not broke, don’t fix it. And it’s working pretty well for the Mustang so far.
When Johnson is locked in like he was during the final minutes of the first half it’s like a smelling salt for the Spurs. If he’s playing his hardest, his energy and physicality give this team a dimension that no one else can match. The key is for him to do it consistently. Once he’s got that down he’s going to be an even bigger game-changer than he already is.
Next: Overcoming adversity
Jan 27, 2021; San Antonio, Texas, USA; San Antonio Spurs center Jakob Poeltl (25) and Boston Celtics forward Jayson Tatum (0) go for a rebound. during the fourth quarter at AT&T Center. Mandatory Credit: Scott Wachter-USA TODAY Sports
San Antonio Spurs break from the norm and turn the ball over far too much
The most consistent thing about the San Antonio Spurs this season has been how dedicated they’ve been to taking care of the basketball. Limiting turnovers has always been a point of pride for Spurs teams but they’ve taken it to a new level this year.
Win or lose, the Spurs have been one of the best teams in the league in not turning the ball over. Coming into tonight’s game they were averaging just 10.2 turnovers per game, a fair amount ahead of the second-place Portland Trail Blazers who turn the ball over 11.6 times per contest.
The standard had been set but the Spurs came up woefully short tonight. They turned the ball over a whopping 19 times, nearly double their nightly average and the most they’ve had this season by a significant amount.
Frankly, San Antonio just looked out of sorts throughout the entire game. Sloppy inbounds passes, miscommunications on fast breaks and questionable decision-making plagued them all game long and it wasn’t just one player who was messing up. Five Spurs had at least three turnovers and only Rudy Gay and LaMarcus Aldridge made it the full 48 minutes without making a mistake.
The amount of turnovers is fairly alarming but this is likely a one-game issue, not something we need to be overly concerned with going forward. I’m sure Pop and the rest of the coaches will reiterate the need to get back to their norm before the team faces the Denver Nuggets on Friday.
The San Antonio Spurs face the Denver Nuggets tomorrow night in what could be Derrick White’s season debut.