Summer Spurs lose close one to Suns, finish the play-in round 2-2

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Image via San Antonio Spurs.

By Gareth Gibbins

With Lonnie Walker IV picking up another DND – Rest and likely shut down for the remainder of Summer League, the Summer Spurs final play-in round game presented another opportunity for the rookie trio of Quinndary Weatherspoon, Luka Samanic and Keldon Johnson.

Alas, this time, the rookies fell just short and the Summer Spurs fell to the Suns 79-78.

Weatherspoon led the Summer Spurs in scoring, with 19 points, six boards, three assists and a steal.

Samanic had, perhaps, his best all-around game at Summer League with 11 points, 11 rebounds, three assists, three steals and a team-leading +18.

Despite continuing his aggressive play, Johnson struggled for most the game finishing with seven points on 3-9 shooting.

Learning experience

While it would have been nice to see the Summer Spurs come away with the win, it was another small step in the learning curve for the rookies as they were all on the floor for crunch time of a close game.

“It’s a great experience for the them,” Spurs coach Becky Hammon said. “There’s some things with spacing that we can learn from. For instance, bringing it up on the side line is a dead man’s corner in the NBA. You got to get to get it off those sidelines. I thought we got it on those sidelines too much and they capitalized on it. We just had no space to operate. So there’s good teaching points in it, things that will be helpful down the road for us.”

It’s not raining (threes)

The Summer Spurs struggled behind the three-point line, going 4-18 (22.2%). While the their defensive kept them in the game, being outscored 27-12 was hard to overcome.

Coach Hammon said as much after the game: “I thought we battled back. Defensively, we had some stops and got some momentum going. But again, we haven’t been able to get the lid off the three. We have really really struggled from three the whole time we have been here.”

The Luka Samanic show

Samanic’s full skill set was on display throughout the game. Based on an early sample set, I would say his spin move (especially to the baseline) and his behind-the-back dribble (when driving from the three point line) look to be his favourite moves.

Perhaps the most impressive of Samanic’s game tonight was his aggressiveness on both ends of the court. He did not back down from the physical contact and had his best rebounding game of Summer League.

“We are going to continue to pound him on playing the right way,” Hammon noted. “Love it when he gets the ball out of the board and can bring it himself. But we got to keep sharing it and give each other space. But obviously a lot of bright spots and a lot of learning spots for him.”

All signs point to Samanic and the Spurs being a good fit. And the teaching has started already, not just with the coaching staff, but also with the veterans on the Summer Spurs.

“The game is much faster here and there’s more mistakes, then if I do one quick mistake in the beginning then this effects later in my game,” said Samanic . “They (the veterans) are all about going to the next thing, don’t worry about mistake, miss shot. They help me a lot with that.”

Don’t you forget about me

Drew Eubanks had another workman-like game for the Summer Spurs scoring 16 points on 10 shots while pulling down five boards to go with two assists and a block.

By my count, he was 1-2 using his skyhook (which Walker has referred to as “beautiful”) and had a couple of rim rattling dunks that shook the backboard.

Having covered Eubanks at Summer League last year, he has clearly developed as a player. It will be interesting to see if Eubanks can carve out a role with the Spurs this season.

With Chimezie Metu, who was in the building tonight, suffering an unfortunate injury prior to Summer League and missing key development time, Eubanks is probably higher on the Spurs depth chart at this point. Ultimately, it will likely be the little things that determine whether Eubanks receives meaningful NBA minutes.

“We are going to be on him all the time about not fouling,” said Coach Hammon. “I think his overall attention to detail defensively has been better. Learning how to play our pick and roll defense better. Dropping and being at the right spot. Finding ways to impact the game with a guy that we really don’t ever call for him per se. Hey, he finds a way to involve himself. And that’s what he is going to need to play with us in San Antonio.”

Spurs Family

Derrick White was sitting courtside at the start of the game and was joined later in the game by new Spur DeMarre Carroll. By my count , that is five Spurs (White, Carroll, DeMer DeRozen, Rudy Gay, Dejounte Murray) who have watched the Summer Spurs play this year.

“It’s like having your big brothers come out to watch you play,” Hammon observed. “I think it is meaningful…it’s just nice to see those guys involved with the younger guys and take the time to invest in stuff.”

Samanic agreed, “It’s nice for them to give you support. When you see them there, it’s their free time but they come to watch us. I think it means a lot to the young guys, to me, it was nice to see them.”

Next Game

That’s it for the Summer Spurs in play-in round, and for Spurs in the 6 time in Las Vegas.

The consolation portion of the tournament round starts on Friday and the quarterfinals on Saturday. If I were to hazard a guess, a 2-2 will not be enough to keep the Summer Spurs out the consolation round.

Regardless, I would consider this a successful Summer League for the Spurs, the future is bright!

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