Third Quarter Dooms Spurs in Las Vegas Summer League Opener

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Project Spurs illustration/Spurs

By Gareth Gibbins, Spursinthe6

LAS VEGAS – The Summer Spurs arrived in Vegas following a solid showing at the Utah Jazz Summer League and with one of the strongest squads, at least on paper. Unfortunately, this did not translate to the court on Saturday as the Spurs, who lead 54-43 at half time, fell off a cliff in the third quarter and lost to the Summer Pacers by double digits.

Players of Note

Derrick White was in the line-up and led the way with 19 points, while struggling with his shot from the field, going 6-18. White did get to the line 9 times, but only converted six of his freebies.

Lonnie Walker IV, who was once again sporting his green hoodie after the game, had 15 points but also struggled from the field, matching White’s 6-18 shooting. Despite Walker’s shooting woes, the kid clearly has talent. Perhaps the most notable skill set on display today was his handles – he crossed over helpless Pacers multiple times, much to the delight of the Vegas crowd.

Other notables include Jaron Blossomgame who led all players with 10 rebounds and an efficient 8 points on 4-7 shooting, Cory Jefferson who was a perfect 3-3 from the floor (including 2-2 from deep) and Jeff Ledbetter who did not have much of an opportunity to get things going but was a team leading +4.

It is also worth noting that a majority of the Spurs braintrust was in the building, along with Dejounte Murray who was sitting courtside.

Game Flow

Chimezie Metu scored the first basket of the game for the Spurs and after falling behind early, the Spurs went on a mini run to take a 10-8 lead and send the Pacers into a time out. On a side note, part of that run was a nice looking 18 foot jumper from Blossomgame who I am really hoping can add that shot as a consistent part of his game. Blossomgame was also active on the defensive end coming across the lane for a massive block after a missed defensive assignment by Metu. The Spurs finished the first quarter up 22-17. Ten different Spurs played during the quarter, with Walker leading the way with 6 points, followed by White with 4 points and 2 assists and Blossomgame with 3 boards and that monster block.

As the second quarter got on its way, White hit his only triple of the game and started to get more aggressive, going to the line six times in the quarter. Walker started his cross over show and Jefferson hit his first three. A broken play to end the half provided Coach Will Hardy with a teaching moment and the Spurs holding a 45-43 lead.

As the third quarter started, the wheels quickly started to fall off as the Spurs could not buy a shot which, in turn, seemed to impact their defence for stretches at a time. The Spurs tried to play through it with a three point play from White and continuing to hustle but they fell behind by double digits and, spoiler alert, never recovered. The Pacers outscored the Spurs 22-8 in the quarter, with the Spurs 12.5% shooting from deep contributing heavily to the Pacers 64-53 lead.

The Spurs righted the ship somewhat in the fourth, outscoring the Pacers 23-22, but the play still remained ragged. Five points from Jefferson, including another triple, a couple of baskets by Walker and some scrappy defence by Ledbetter in the waning moments served as the highlights. When the dust settled, the Pacers finished with a 86-76 victory.

Next Game

The Summer Spurs will be back on the court at the Thomas & Mack Center on Sunday to take on the Minnesota Timberwolves at 12:30pm PST (2:30 PM central, 3:30 PM eastern). Spurs in the 6 will have you covered for in game Twitter updates and behind the scenes coverage and don’t forget to check back here on Project Spurs for the game recap.

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