For Spurs fans who stuck through an ugly first half against the Phoenix Suns on Halloween night, they were rewarded with one of the more improbable come-from-behind victories they'll see. San Antonio trailed by as many as 20 points in the second half, struggled with turnovers, and missed wide-open threes. But thanks to strong play from Keldon Johnson, Devin Vassell, and Victor Wembanyama down the stretch, the Spurs were able to pull out an upset victory over a title contender.
The Spurs, particularly Wembanyama, struggled through the first three quarters of the game before coming alive in the fourth quarter. That has been a reoccurring early-season trend, with Wembanyama playing much better in the fourth quarter and overtime than during the first three quarters.
Wembanyama is showing up for the Spurs when it matters most
A large part of Wendy's early season struggles have been related to his poor three-point shooting and turnover issues but those seem to disappear once the start of the fourth quarter comes around. According to Justin Verrier, Wembanyama has missed just five of his 18 attempts in the fourth quarter and overtime while also blocking five shots.
Against the Suns late, Wembanyama drilled a jumper with 49 seconds left and then snuck in for a putback dunk with less than 7 seconds remaining, which put the Spurs down by only one. Then, Johnson stole the inbound pass and hit the game-winning layup.
On the last play, coach Gregg Popovich put Wembanyama on Grayson Allen, who was the inbounder for the Suns. Wembanyama then quickly switched off on Kevin Durant and helped Johnson contest what would have been a game-winner. Wembanyama's nine points and two blocks in the fourth, including two baskets in the final 50 seconds of the game, helped the Spurs close the gap with Johnson finishing things off.
Wembanyama's play down the stretch has helped San Antonio to a 2-2 record to start the 2023-24 season. Considering that they went just 22-60 last season and got blown out by 40 in their first road game of the season against the Clippers, this is an encouraging step.
Still, the Spurs will need Wembanyama to play more as he does in the fourth during the first three quarters of games. To do that, he'll have to cut down on his nearly five turnovers per game and not rely nearly as much on shooting threes.
He also tends to play much better with Tre Jones on the floor, suggesting that the Spurs should start him over Jeremy Sochan. But, in lieu of a lineup change, it appears that the Spurs have a new closer in Wembanyama.