Spurs Cruise Past Jazz in 126-122 Victory

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Spurs Devin Vassell Putting Up A Shot
December 26, 2022, San Antonio, TX: during the first quarter against the Utah Jazz at the AT&T Center in San Antonio, Texas Monday, December 26, 2022. (Photo by Reginald Thomas II/San Antonio Spurs) via nba.com/spurs/media

The San Antonio Spurs (11-22) ended things on a high note defeating the Utah Jazz (19-17) last night 126-122. It was a fight that came down to the last possession. The young squad was able to hold on to the lead and close out the fourth thanks to some clutch layups from point guard Tre Jones.

Spurs and Jazz Go Down To The Wire

This wasn’t an up-and-down experience like others, but rather a constant progression to the finish line. Both Utah and San Antonio had a rough time knocking down the three with both teams shooting in the low 30th percentile. The contrast was the Spurs made the adjustment early on and created better looks in the paint.

Finishing in the fourth quarter is still a work in progress. The Jazz outscored the Spurs by 10 in the fourth causing them to lose their gap in the lead. 

Point Guard Tre Jones took on the responsibility of pushing the pace on drives to the net. He was able to outrun the Jazz in transition by scoring two baskets that kept his team in front. Ultimately, this allowed them to obtain a win.

Excelling with Vassell

Shooting guard Devin Vassell was all over the floor loading up his stat sheet. He matched his career high with eight assists while displaying his ability to be a key facilitator. His old roots of playing point prior to college are showing. Many fans are hoping to continue to see his colorful ball-handling skills as the season progresses.

His two blocks and steals for the night showed his speed, agility, and expanded athleticism. Vassell showed range defensively as he used his length and size to battle shots out in the paint. His efforts led him to be the leading scorer of the night with 24 points.

Trusting in Malaki Branham

Rookie Malaki Branham seemed to have found a nice tempo this game. Branham had 20 points, two rebounds, two assists, and a steal. 

“He’s like an old-school player. He’s just solid. He’s not affected by the lights or the NBA or any of that kind of stuff. He just comes and plays basketball. Does a really good job.” Coach Popovich said about the young guard post-game. 

Branham has even earned the trust of veteran teammates. Keldon Johnson said, “it was quick to gain their [Brenham, Sochan, and Wesley] trust because they play hard, they compete, and they want to learn and win.” 

Trusting each other seems to be a recurring part of this group. You have to when you have so many minimally experienced professional players on one team. 

Adding Depth Defensively

A newly added defender with some years behind him is Stanley Johnson. Johnson isn’t a top scorer but has used his seven years of pro basketball IQ to contribute in other ways. When I asked Coach Pop what he feels Johnson had brought to the team so far defensively this is what he had to say. 

“He’s a tough young man. He uses his strength and his body to get on people. He sets a really good example in that regard for the rest of our guys. He’s a pro. He’s been doing this. He [has] been in good organizations, and he understands everything we’re trying to do pretty quickly.”

A Quick Turnaround

The team will make their way to Oklahoma City to meet the Thunder on December 27th. They will play on Tuesday at 7:00 PM. Do they have the endurance to secure back-to-back wins?

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