Keldon Johnson and Devin Vassell both returned to the lineup yesterday in the San Antonio Spurs home game against the Los Angeles Clippers. Despite an overall good effort from the team until the very end, the team fell with a final score of 113-106. This marks only the Spurs' fourth loss of the season putting them in 9th place in the West.
After falling behind in the 1st quarter, the Spurs recovered well, putting up 40 points in the second quarter and maintaining their lead well into the 4th quarter. It was only the Spurs' scoring struggles toward the end of the game that ultimately allowed the Clippers to crawl their way back and win the game.
Even so, a couple of Spurs managed to have great nights, continuing to show a lot of promise for the future. These were the studs and dud of the game.
The dud: Keldon Johnson
The box score may tell you that Keldon Johnson was one of the more productive players in the Spurs' latest game on Friday night, and that's true, but what's also true is that he had a very inefficient night. Johnson went 7/19 (36.8%) from the field and knocked down only 2 of his 9 three-point attempts. Even though he also managed to rack up 7 rebounds and a few assists, it still wasn't quite enough to put the Spurs over the edge for the win.
Inefficient nights are bound to happen at some point--particularly for a player that's still improving--so I don't necessarily knock Johnson for that in and of itself. Continuing to maintain confidence in his shot will be key for him moving forward, so even if he's missing, letting it fly will be good for him in the long run.
With that in mind, though, there comes a point in a game where a player that isn't shooting the ball too well needs to figure out other ways to affect the game on offense, especially when it's still early in the shot clock. I don't think Johnson quite found the balance between making plays for himself and making plays for his teammates before it was too late to make a comeback. We've already seen that he's more than capable of finding that balance, though, so expect him to bounce back quickly.
The studs: Devin Vassell & Tre Jones
Devin Vassell and Tre Jones both recorded career highs in points on Friday night, which is impressive on its own. But considering this is Vassell's first action after sitting for four straight games, I left the game very impressed with him. He appears to be exceptionally more comfortable scoring the ball compared to last season, being effective as both the ballhandler and a perimeter threat when the ball is in someone else's hands. If he continues at this rate, the leap he's taking is very believable and looks to be sustainable on some level. He ended his night with 29 points, 2 rebounds, and 2 steals.
Jones also recorded a career-high 18 points last night but backed that up with 6 assists, 2 rebounds, and 2 steals. He's continuing to make smart plays, is staying aggressive shooting from the three-point line, and is still putting in the effort on defense. Jones is looking more and more like he'll have a long and successful NBA career.
The Spurs are back at it tomorrow for the second night of a back-to-back against the Denver Nuggets at 8:00 PM CST.