SAN ANTONIO — The San Antonio Spurs opened up a new era of basketball with a 123-97 victory over the Orlando Magic at the AT&T Center on Wednesday night in the season opener for both clubs.
With the win, San Antonio moved to 23-2 in season openers under Head Coach Gregg Popovich.
Devin Vassell scored 19 points and Lonnie Walker added 17 for San Antonio, who opened a new era of youth with the game on Wednesday. The Spurs started a squad with an average age of 25 for the first time in the Popovich coaching era.
“I felt we did a lot of good things. I think everybody paid attention in training camp,” Popovich said. “We’re still making mistakes on both ends of the court, we’ll try to get better.”
Here are three main takeaways from the Spurs’ win over Orlando:
During the offseason, the Spurs said goodbye to veteran players such as Patty Mills and Rudy Gay, fully embracing the youth movement. If Wednesday’s game is any indication of the future, this was the right move for the future of the team.
Dejounte Murray looked strong, scoring 15 points, dishing out eight assists, and pulling down six rebounds. Jakob Poeltl looked good on both ends of the court, posting 12 points and 13 rebounds.
In all, every Spurs starter scored in double figures and the San Antonio offense exploded for 123 points.
“That’s the energy we want to play with, the team camaraderie we want to play with,” Vassell said. “They said that seven players scored in double figures. That’s the type of team we have – on any given night, anybody can be our leading scorer.”
All about the defense
San Antonio trailed early but used their defense to get back into the game. Orlando led 17-10 but the Spurs went used a trap defensive scheme to fuel a 10-0 run to take the lead. From there, they built a 14-point lead in the first half.
The Spurs used their frantic pace and got into the passing lanes and got aggressive with Orlando’s ball handlers as they worked for steals and made life difficult for the rebuilding Magic.
“We were disruptive and I thought we were active,” Popovich said of his team’s defense. “Stuck our nose in…. But we need to communicate a lot better, kind of shy.”
Eyes on Walker
With Lonnie Walker IV not getting an extension on his rookie contract, all eyes were on the youngster to see what he could do in the first game of the season. While it is only one game, he did not disappoint.
Walker scored 17 points off the bench, including going 3-for-9 from three-point range, which came from the right corner.
In a contract year, Walker will need to have plenty of nights like this on a consistent basis if he wants to stick around in Silver and Black.
The Spurs are now 1-0 on the season and will return to the court on Friday when they travel to face the Denver Nuggets (1-0) at Ball Arena at 8 PM.