Feb 8, 2021; San Antonio, Texas, USA; San Antonio Spurs guard Dejounte Murray (5) shoots against Golden State Warriors guard Kelly Oubre Jr. (12) in the first half at the AT&T Center. Mandatory Credit: Daniel Dunn-USA TODAY Sports
The San Antonio Spurs ground out another fourth-quarter comeback
The last time the San Antonio Spurs and the Golden State Warriors met, the Warriors unloaded on the Spurs for one of their most humbling defeats of the season. The memory of that loss must’ve been on the Spurs’ minds last night as they played with a fire that just wasn’t there on January 20th.
The Spurs got out to an early deficit as the Warriors started hot from deep. When I see Spurs fans worrying about these early deficits I feel like James Franco in that gallows’ meme where he’s asking the man next to him if it’s his first time meeting the hangman.
This is just what the Spurs do, they lose the first quarter by an average of 2.2 points per night. At least they’re consistent, and it does make the final three quarters a bit more interesting as you’re always waiting to see if the Spurs will pull off another comeback.
San Antonio was able to weather the storm and find a way to come back on Monday night. On a night where most of the team couldn’t find the bottom of the net, the Spurs had to ride a few key players down the stretch.
No one picked up more slack than Dejounte Murray. He had a career night and was spectacular from start to finish. His monster game marks the first of the three standout performances were looking at from last night
Dejounte Murray goes off for San Antonio Spurs
Have you ever seen a player get hot on defense? We see it all the time on offense, a player gets in a groove and all of a sudden the hoop feels like it’s the size of a laundry basket for them, but to see someone get in that rhythm on defense is a rare thing. That’s where Dejounte Murray was on Monday night.
DJ had his hands in everyone’s pockets from the jump. Guarding Stephen Curry is an exhausting task in itself but Murray managed to do that while also harassing the rest of the Warriors into a career-high eight steals. That beats his previous career-best of seven steals and sets the league-wide highest mark for steals in a game so far this season.
We’ve talked a lot about how Murray’s defense buoys him and the Spurs on nights when his shot isn’t falling. But what about when it’s on? If Murray’s got it going on both ends of the floor he’s one of the best two-way guards in the NBA.
He was deadly on offense last night. He led the Spurs with 27 points and hit several key midrange shots and floaters during a stretch in the second quarter when the Spurs will still just trying to keep the deficit manageable. But Murray was still saving his best for last.https://videos.nba.com/nba/pbp/media/2021/02/08/0022000371/637/c8f03ecd-ee69-578c-2812-1d6b87ab50fe_1280x720.mp4
With just over 12 seconds left in the game and the Spurs leading by one, Murray found himself alone in the corner with the shot clock winding down. With no one to pass to for a better look, Murray stepped back and drained the dagger three right in the face of Andrew Wiggins.
The final stat line: 27 points, 10 rebounds, 4 assists and 8 steals on 52.6 percent from the field and 40 percent from behind the arc. Take a bow, Mr. Murray, you had yourself a night.
Next: Devin Vassell continues to shine
Feb 8, 2021; San Antonio, Texas, USA; San Antonio Spurs guard Devin Vassell (24) dribbles in the first half against the Golden State Warriors at the AT&T Center. Mandatory Credit: Daniel Dunn-USA TODAY Sports
Devin Vassell continues to demand more playing time from San Antonio Spurs
This is a serious oversimplification of what makes Devin Vassell so good but good things happen seemingly every time he’s on the court. He rarely makes mistakes, he’s always in the right spot, and at this point, I trust him to make the right play as much as anyone on the Spurs. He’s that good, and he’s just a rookie!
Vassell did a little bit of everything in his near 21 minutes of play last night. He pulled down a few rebounds, expertly using his length and athleticism to pluck the ball right away from the Warriors. He got involved on the defensive end and recorded a steal. He hit all of his shots, including two from deep and another smooth looking mid-range pull up.
He’s clearly going to be one of the best players on the Spurs in short order. He’s thrived in almost every situation he’s been in and continues to demand more playing time from the Spurs coaches. But will he get it?
We’ve done this song and dance before so no one should be surprised to see Pop turn to a veteran like Rudy Gay when things get tough down the stretch. For the Spurs, those high-pressure movements at the end of games belong to veterans and players who’ve proven they belong there. Vassell isn’t there yet, no matter how much fans might want him to be.
Next: What's going on with Derrick White?
Feb 8, 2021; San Antonio, Texas, USA; Golden State Warriors guard Stephen Curry (30) shoots over San Antonio Spurs guard Derrick White (4) late in the second half at the AT&T Center. Mandatory Credit: Daniel Dunn-USA TODAY Sports
Can the San Antonio Spurs help Derrick White return to form?
Derrick White‘s return from another foot injury has been two steps forward, one step back kind of process. He strung together two solid performances against Minnesota and Houston, both Spurs wins, but definitely took a step back last night.
White shot just 1 for 11 from the floor, missed all of his five three-point attempts, and didn’t make it to the free-throw line once. He just looked off all night.
There were quite a few open looks inside that, on a typical night, you would’ve expected White to make. Little floaters from just inside the free-throw line, jumpers from just outside of the lane, shots White made a killing on in the bubble, all of them were off.
To his credit, White still found ways to impact the game. He dished out three assists, got a steal, and made many more important defensive plays that didn’t show up in the box score. On one play, he combined with Dejoutne to snuff out was a promising fast break from Golden State. Seeing the two share the floor and be so in sync in a key defensive moment was a nice reminder of how far this team has come in a year.
The Spurs have to be patient with White’s return. Look for them to try to get him going early tonight in order to avoid a repeat of last night’s performance.
The San Antonio Spurs take the floor against the Warriors for the second part of their quick series tonight at 7:30 PM CST.