Doncic on DeRozan game-winner: ‘He made a hell of a shot’

The San Antonio Spurs(25-26) have had difficulty winning close games of late. During their five-game losing streak, San Antonio lost two games in overtime, and they lost by two points to the Nuggets on Friday night.

Fortunately for San Antonio, DeMar DeRozan came alive against the Mavericks on Sunday night. DeRozan scored 27 of his 33 points in the second half, including the game-winning shot with 0.5 seconds left as the Spurs defeated the Mavericks(29-23) on the road 119-117 to snap their five-game losing streak. 

DeRozan also added eight assists and five rebounds. Kristaps Porzingis led the way for Dallas with 31 points and 15 rebounds, and Luka Doncic added 29 points.

According to the Spurs, since DeRozan was drafted in 2009, he has 27 field goals to tie or take the lead in the final minute of the game (including playoffs). Only four players have more: Damian Lillard (35), Russell Westbrook (32), Kevin Durant (30), and LeBron James (28).

After the game, DeRozan discussed the game-winner.

“Honestly, just trying to get to my spot knowing the clock,” DeRozan said. “Take my time, not rushing, and just going to the move I’ve worked on so many times. Concentrate and knock down a shot.”

Doncic added on DeRozan’s game-winner: “He made a hell of a shot. It was good defending, I think, he made a hell of a shot. Props to him for making the shot.”

Mavericks head coach Rick Carlisle had Dorian Finney-Smith guarding DeRozan on the final shot and chose not to bring a double-team. According to Carlisle, that was a mistake.

 “We elected to let [Dorian Finney-Smith] guard him straight-up,” he said. “In hindsight, we obviously should have gone, and that’s on me. That’s my decision. That’s a detailed description of it.”

This was a good win for the Spurs, who continue to be a much better team on the road(13-9) than at home(12-17). However, for the Mavericks, this was a disappointing loss as they had an opportunity to extend their lead in the standings over Spurs and had a chance to get closer to the sixth-seeded Blazers. 

Both teams get back at it on Monday night. The Mavericks host the Eastern Conference’s top-seeded team, the Philadelphia 76ers, and the Spurs continue their five-game road trip in Orlando against the Magic.

Cavs’ Bickerstaff on Sexton, Garland: ‘The numbers they put up are what star backcourts are capable of’

The Cavaliers have not played many complete games this season, but on Monday night in San Antonio, the Cavs did just that.

Cleveland(18-32) won every quarter against the Spurs(24-24) and led by as much as 32 points. The Cavaliers would defeat the Spurs 125-101. Cleveland snapped their five-game losing streak, and the Spurs have now lost three straight. The win over the Spurs was their largest road win for the Cavs since 2017.

The Cavs were led by Darius Garland, who had a career-high 37 points. The second-year guard was 14/22 from the field, including 5-10 from three-point range. Garland also added seven assists. Collin Sexton added 22 points for the Cavs. The Sexton and Garland backcourt combined for 59 points and 12 assists on Monday night. 

Garland has had a lot of success against the Spurs this season. He set his previous career-high of 29 points against San Antonio back in March. According to Garland, he knew that Monday was going to be a good day during shootaround.

“I actually said something at shootaround early this morning,” Garland said. “I was like, ‘It’s going to be a good day.’ Everybody was locked in during shootaround.”

Cavaliers head coach J.B. Bickerstaff was happy with the backcourt play and believes what Sexton and Garland did on Monday night is what elite backcourts do in the NBA.

“The numbers they put up are what star backcourts are capable of,” Bickerstaff said. “That’s what they do consistently. When you think of the elite backcourts in the league, you look at those numbers, and those numbers come consistently, and I think our young guys are still growing. When your backcourt plays like that, that’s how you carry a team.”

Seeing the 21-year-old Garland and the 22-year-old Sexton perform the way they did on Monday night is exciting for the Cavs and gives the team more hope about the future. These two can and have been dynamic at times this season. To Bickerstaff’s point, if they continue to play at this level, Sexton and Garland can carry a team and possibly carry the Cavs to big things for years to come.

Photo: @Cavs/Twitter

Spurs’ Popovich: ‘It’s a mental toughness thing to get through the schedule’

On March 22, the San Antonio Spurs began their season-long nine-game homestand against the Charlotte Hornets. At the time, the Spurs were 22-18 and the seventh-seed in the Western Conference after going 3-2 on a five-game road trip.

Two weeks later, the Spurs(24-23) are 2-6 in the first eight games of this homestand, and San Antonio is now tied with Memphis for the eighth seed in the West. The Spurs will finish off this homestand on Monday night against the struggling Cavaliers(17-32). 

The Spurs, who have lost two straight, have one of the most demanding schedules for the second half of the season along with the Memphis Grizzlies as each team is scheduled to play 40 games over the next 68 days. The Spurs have played nine games over 15 days, followed by a stretch where they’re playing 17 of 22 games on the road, including seven back-to-backs.

The Spurs and Grizzlies are the only two teams without any two-day breaks, have 11 back-to-backs, and will play more games on the road than at home over the next ten weeks.

In their last outing, San Antonio lost to the shorthanded Indiana Pacers in OT 139-133, which was San Antonio’s second straight overtime loss. Indiana was without their leading-scorer Domantas Sabonis and Malcolm Brogdon.

After the loss to Indiana, Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich made it clear that the team has to keep working.

“We’ll just keep going,” Popovich said. “It’s a mental toughness thing to get through the schedule, and we just move on.”

Playing at home is usually great for young players, and young players tend to perform better at home, but with nine games and 15 nights, and the limited amount fans, home is not the same. The Spurs should defeat the Cavaliers(lost five straight) on Monday night, but based on the way both teams are playing, who knows what will happen.

Spurs waive Marquese Chriss, expected to sign Gorgui Dieng

The San Antonio Spurs today announced that they have waived forward Marquese Chriss. According to The Athletics’ Shams Charania, the Spurs are using the roster space for center Gorgui Dieng.

The Spurs acquired Chriss in a trade with the Golden State Warriors on March 25. He did not appear in a game with the Spurs.

The 31-year-old Dieng appeared in 39 games (one start) over parts of two seasons in Memphis and averaged 7.6 points, 5.0 rebounds, and 1.1 assists in 17.7 minutes after he was acquired by the Grizzlies from the Minnesota Timberwolves last February.

Dieng will give the Spurs size and an additional big man after the team bought out LaMarcus Aldridge, who is expected to sign with the Brooklyn Nets.

Aldridge, Spurs reach agreement on buyout

The San Antonio Spurs have reached a buyout agreement with forward LaMarcus Aldridge, the team announced on Thursday,

According to ESPN’s s Adrian Wojnarowski, the cash buyout for Aldridge with the Spurs was $5.8 million. According to Shams Charania of The Athletic and Stadium, Aldridge agreed to give back $7.25 million as part of the buyout.

At this point, according to Woj, the Miami Heat are expected to emerge as a frontrunner to sign Aldridge. However, Aldridge plans to talk with several teams before making a decision.

Earlier this month, Aldridge and the Spurs agreed to part ways. Before Thursday’s trade deadline, San Antonio was unable to find a taker for the 35-year-old Aldridge.

Aldridge can help a contender, and if it’s Miami, that’s a great addition for them. The Heat acquired Victor Oladipo from the Rockets on Thursday, so he and Aldridge would definitely help Miami contend in the East. 

The 14-year veteran, who signed with the Spurs in 2015, appeared in a total of 376 games for San Antonio and averaged 19.5 points, 8.0 rebounds, 2.0 assists, and 1.25 blocks in five-plus seasons for the Silver and Black. The former Texas Longhorn was named All-NBA twice (2016, 2018) and an NBA All-Star three times (2016, 2018, 2019) while in San Antonio.

Spurs have a chance to make a move in standings during nine-game homestand

Five games in seven nights are never easy, and San Antonio finished their five games in seven nights on Saturday night against the Bucks. San Antonio was without Dejounte Murray and Patty Mills due to rest, and while they fought hard and battled against Milwaukee(27-14), it wasn’t enough as the Spurs fell to the Bucks on the road 120-113.

San Antonio finished off their five-game road trip 3-2, and now they prepare to go home for nine straight, starting on Monday against the Charlotte Hornets. 

Lonnie Walker IV was spectacular against the Bucks. The third-year guard had a career-high 31 points behind career-bests of 13 field goals and five three-pointers, while Giannis Antetokounmpo led the Bucks with 26 points, 15 assists, and eight rebounds.

Even though the Spurs fell short on Saturday night, their head coach Gregg Popovich was happy with the team’s effort. 

‘This is the fifth game in seven nights, and a couple of important guys didn’t play, but it doesn’t matter,” Popovich said. “They all come to compete, getting better all the time.”

Pop was also happy with Walker’s play.

“He played a great game,” Popovich said. “He made shots; he made good decisions, busted his butt on defense. He did good work.”

Currently, San Antonio is 22-17 and in the seventh spot in the Western Conference as they start a nine-game homestand. No matter if they are home or away, Spurs F Keldon Johnson just wants to win.

“I feel like we’re trying to win every game, whether it’s home or away,” Johnson said. “Every game is needed; every game counts.”

The Spurs have one of the longest homestands of the second half with nine games over 15 days (March 22–April 5), which is followed by a stretch where they’re playing 17 of 22 games on the road with seven back-to-backs.

There are some winnable games during nine-game homestand, including games against Sacramento(2x), Cleveland, Charlotte(no LaMelo Ball), and Chicago. The Spurs have an opportunity to make a run. However, they do have a better record on the road than at home, but San Antonio has let fans in the arena, so maybe that will help the team.

It should be interesting to see how they will play during this homestand, but young players usually perform well at home, which could bode well for this team.

Spurs’ Murray on fans at AT&T Center: ‘I think it helped us get a huge team win’

Fans of the San Antonio Spurs(19-15), who were in the At&t Center for the first time this season, got a nice treat on Friday night. San Antonio, who trailed by 13 after the first quarter, outscored the Magic by 40 points the rest of the way to defeat Orlando(13-26) 104-77. 

San Antonio was led by Rudy Gay, who scored 19 points off the bench. Before returning on Wednesday night against the Mavericks, Gay missed five games due to health and safety protocols. 

On Friday night, in 20 minutes of action, Gay shot 6-9 from the field and scored 11 of  his 19 points in the fourth quarter. According to Gay, when he comes off the bench, he wants to be aggressive.

“Well, just basically trying to be aggressive,” Gay said. “When me and Patty(Mills) come onto the court, our thing is to be aggressive offensively, and also, just play the right way and play with each other. Today, I got it going. Usually, Patty gets it going in the first half. I got it going today. It is what it is, next man up kind of mentality.”

After the first quarter(Magic scored 29 points), San Antonio held the Magic, who had only nine players on Friday night, to 10 points in the second quarter and 13 points in the fourth quarter, and Gay gave the credit to Mills and Dejounte Murray.

“I think Dejounte and Patty had the most impact,” Gay said. “They are the people that guarded people bringing the ball up. They start our defense. They started it, and we just fed off their defense.”

Over 3200 fans were in the At&T Center on Friday night, and according to Murray, who had 17 points against the Magic, having the fans back in the arena helped the team.

‘It was great for us because we do it for the fans,” he said. “The fans help us in every aspect. I feel like it was an adjustment that’s going to have to be made by us players. It’s something we have to get back used to because we kind of adjusted to playing with just no fans… To have them back yelling and supporting us was great, and I think it helped us get a huge team win.”

Notes:

The Spurs were without DeMar DeRozan on Friday night. DeRozan was back in California to attend the funeral services for his father.

The Spurs had all their players(Gay, White, Keldon Johnson, Devin Vassell) back, who were out due to health and safety protocols. White chipped in 17 points for San Antonio.

San Antonio is off on Saturday and will travel to Philly to battle the 76ers, who will be without All-Star and MVP candidate Joel Embiid. According to The Athletic’s Shams Charania, the four-time All-Star will be out two-three weeks with a bone bruise in his left knee. Embiid suffered the injury against the Wizards on Friday night.

 

 

Carlisle on Doncic, Porzingis: ‘As we move along in this, their chemistry continues to build’

The Mavericks(19-16) picked up where they left off before the All-Star break. Led by the duo of Kristaps Porzingis, who had a team-high 28 points and 14 rebounds, and All-Star Luka Doncic, who had a triple-double with 22 points, 12 rebounds, and 12 assists, the Mavericks defeated the Spurs(18-15) at home 115-104.

Dallas has now won four straight and 11 of their last 14 games.

Doncic and Porzingis combined for 50 points and 26 rebounds. After the game, Mavericks head coach Rick Carlisle discussed the growing chemistry between Doncic and Porzingis. 

“They’re both great young players,” Carlisle said. “As we move along in this, their chemistry continues to build. We’re seeing a lot of different situations with KP [Kristaps Porzingis], different kinds of guys guarding him; smaller guys, liberal switching, trying to bait him into situations that aren’t great situations for him or the team. 

“He’s doing a great job of reading and making the defense pay a price. Sometimes it’s just simply with spacing, sometimes it’s with cutting, sometimes it’s with flashes deep into the paint and creating kick-out 3s or and-ones. I just really love the way he’s adjusting to the way people are playing him. Doncic is great. Guy was a starter on the All-Star team. What else do you want me to say?”

Doncic, who recorded his 33rd overall triple-double, which ties Bob Cousy for the 13th-most in NBA history, likes what he sees out of Porzingis.

“We are progressing as a team,” Doncic said. “KP has been way better gaining confidence after his injury. I think he is still working to build his confidence, and he is going to be way better.”

Porzingis missed the first nine games of the season due to knee surgery in the offseason and missed three games recently due to a back injury, but according to him, he’s almost back to himself.

“I feel like I am getting there,” he said. “I still have to keep working at it. After surgery, the leg is not feeling the same, so you have to keep working on the strength and make sure that is strong and stable, and you feel confident. It is nonstop work… I am looking forward to the second part of the season.”

When Doncic and Porzingis are rolling, Dallas is tough to beat, and seeing Porzingis playing well is a welcomed sight for the Mavericks and their fanbase.

Spurs’ Keldon Johnson selected to 2021 Rising Stars roster

The NBA today announced that San Antonio Spurs forward Keldon Johnson has been selected to the 2021 Rising Stars Roster. Johnson is the first Spurs player to be selected for the Rising Stars Challenge since Jonathon Simmons in 2017 and the first player to be selected in his second season after appearing in less than 20 games as a rookie since Clint Capela in 2016.

In his sophomore campaign this season, Johnson is averaging career highs of 14.3 points, 6.8 rebounds and 2.2 assists in 29.4 minutes over 28 games. He is on track to become the first Spur in his second season to average at least 14.0 points and 6.0 rebounds since Tim Duncan in 1998-99.

Johnson, 21, is one of three Spurs in history (Duncan and David Robinson) to record multiple games with 25-plus points and 10-or-more rebounds in their first 50 career games. The former Kentucky Wildcat has posted five double-doubles on the season and has scored double figures in 21 games, including five games with 20-or-more. Among rookies and sophomores in the NBA this season, Johnson joins Zion Williamson and Michael Porter Jr. as the only three players averaging better than 14.0 points and 6.5 rebounds per game.

Johnson becomes the ninth player in San Antonio franchise history to be selected to the Rising Stars since the event’s inception in 1994.

Gregg Popovich on Spurs: ‘They never gave in’

The San Antonio Spurs(17-13) battled hard against the Brooklyn Nets on Monday night and got an amazing buzzer-beater from Dejounte Murray(19 points) to send the game into overtime. However, they were outscored by 11 points in the extra period and would fall to the Nets(23-13) in OT 124-113 at AT&T Center.

After a James Harden three,  who had a triple-double with 30 points, 15 assists, and 14 rebounds, the Spurs trailed 102–90 with just under five minutes left in the fourth quarter, but the Spurs would go on an 18-6 run to finish the fourth, including Murray’s buzzer-beater. After the game, Popovich discussed Murray’s big-time shot.

“He knew he had to get it to the rim,” Popovich said. “He made a good choice getting rid of that darn thing, but he’s been playing great all year long and just getting smarter and smarter; feeling more and more confident at the position, so it’s all good.”

Despite the loss, Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich was happy with his team’s fight against Brooklyn.

‘I thought they were great,” Popovich said after the game about his team. “They really worked hard. They dug down deep all year. They never gave in, and tonight was another good example.”

Spurs G Lonnie Walker IV, who scored 19 points against the Nets, agreed with Popovich’s assessment.

“We laid it all out there,” he said. “Our effort defensively really picked up our effort offensively on how we’re scoring and running on transition and everything. So, I’m really happy on how we played as a team. We did it the right way. Unfortunately, we didn’t come up with the win.”

The Spurs were shorthanded on Monday as they were without Keldon Johnson, Rudy Gay, and Derrick White due to health and safety protocols, making their performance against the high-powered Nets even more impressive. Now, they have to set their sights on New York’s other team, the Knicks, as they come into San Antonio to battle the Spurs on Tuesday night.

Notes:

Kyrie Irving added 27 points for the Nets, while DeMar DeRozan had a team-high 22 points for San Antonio.

Spurs announced before their game against Brooklyn that they would be letting fans in the AT&T Center starting on March 12 against the Magic. According to the press release, the Spurs will allow 3200 fans in the building.