If you can believe it, the San Antonio Spurs walked away with their third win of the season earlier tonight in a total thwarting of the Minnesota Timberwolves in Minneapolis. While the final score was only a nine-point differential, 115-106, the Spurs lead by 35 points at the beginning of the 4th quarter. Through and through, this was a performance to remember, particularly if and when things begin to go downhill later this season.
In a departure from our normal "2 studs and 1 dud" post-game review, we aren't naming a dud today. I promised myself that I would always provide constructive criticism for one player that could've performed a bit better, and I plan on returning to that habit, but beating two potential title contenders in a row deserves something a bit more celebratory. We'll go over two of the game's studs like normal, but instead of a "dud," we'll talk about the most mind-blowing Spurs stat of the game.
The mind-blowing stat: 37 team assists
The Spurs recorded an incredible 37 combined assists against the Timberwolves, marking the first time since the midpoint of last season that they've reached that threshold. More impressively, though, the Popovich-era Spurs have only reached the 37-assist mark 17 times in their history.
This was accomplished primarily because of one of the Spurs' studs of the night: (spoiler alert) Tre Jones. He recorded a team-high 8 assists on the night, finding his teammates with ease while only recording 1 turnover. But this statement game was a team effort through and through, and several other players made some fantastic plays for their teammates.
Jakob Poeltl, Keldon Johnson, and Isaiah Roby all had good showings in their playing time, each putting up 4 assists. In only 17 minutes, Zach Collins also managed to put up an impressive 5 assists along with 11 points and four rebounds. Perhaps most impressively, though, Devin Vassell managed to rack up 7 assists to accompany his 23 points and 9 rebounds. The improvements he appears to have made to his playmaking would be a significant development in his ability to reach his ceiling and is something we'll continue to monitor as the season progresses.
The studs: Tre Jones & Jeremy Sochan
I've been patiently waiting to give these two a shoutout, particularly since they've both been featured as a "dud," with Tre Jones being the most recent culprit. But last night, both he and Jeremy Sochan put on stud-worthy, masterclass performances.
Tre Jones impressed me the most of the two on this occasion. Not only did he push the pace and look to score as he did in his game against the 76ers, but he was far less hesitant to shoot threes, found his teammates much more, and took care of the ball well. He was just as effective on the defensive end of the floor, though, grabbing 7 rebounds and 3 steals. He's been dubbed as a floor general since his days at Duke, and last night, he looked like an NBA-level floor general that will have a long career ahead of him.
Jeremy Sochan has been growing more comfortable on the floor with every passing game, but up to this point, he's almost exclusively shown his capabilities on defense. That defensive prowess was just as prevalent last night. But with that in mind, he was finally able to show what he can do on offense, particularly in transition and off of cuts. He threw down three emphatic alley-oop dunks, hit a smooth turnaround jumper over Karl-Anthony Towns, and continues to be more comfortable putting the ball on the floor on drives.
The Spurs will face the Timberwolves for a second time this coming Wednesday at 7:00 PM CST.