SAN ANTONIO – The San Antonio Spurs opened the 2019-20 season with a 120-111 victory over the New York Knicks (0-1) at the AT&T Center on Wednesday night.
The season opener saw point guard Dejounte Murray return to the lineup after missing all of last year with a torn ACL. The victory saw the Spurs move to 21-2 under Gregg Popovich in season-opening games.
“Any win in the NBA is sweet,” Popovich said. “This one wasn’t pretty but it’s hard to win when you give up 32 points on turnovers. The difference was we did not turn it over in the fourth quarter.”
Also returning were veterans Patty Mills, Rudy Gay, and Marco Belinelli. While fans were expecting Lonnie Walker IV to play significant minutes, it is clear Belinelli is ahead of him in the rotation. He won’t get any big minutes soon but he still has plenty of time to earn them.
Here is what went good and bad for the Spurs, as well as three standout players: Dejounte Murray, Bryn Forbes, and LaMarcus Aldridge.
- The Spurs got the job done and got the win. Starting off the new season with a victory is always a good thing.
- Dejounte Murray is back, y’all and he’s ready to make his mark.
- Bryn Forbes proved why he kept his starting job with a great night at the office.
- Newcomer Trey Lyles got the start at center and quieted his critics, at least for one night. He finished with eight points and 11 rebounds.
- Turnovers. The Spurs won despite committing 21 turnovers, which led to 32 points for the Knicks. Aldridge, Murray, and DeMar DeRozan combined for 12 of those 21 giveaways.
- Speaking of DeRozan, he had a game to forget. He had 13 points but shot just 3-for-10 from the floor and as mentioned above, had four turnovers that turned into New York points. With reports that the Spurs and DeRozan aren’t close at the moment to reaching an extension, he will need to put up closer to what he had last season if he wants a long term deal. The good news, it is only one game.
- Derrick White had a preseason to forget and his opening night performance was subpar. He had just nine points on 50 percent shooting and four turnovers. However, his shot selection was nice and he remained aggressive on both ends of the floor.
- The turnovers led to points in transition for the Knicks and it looked like the Spurs were a step slow in their rotations. That should be improved as the group plays more games together.
Three Standout Players:
The point guard made his highly anticipated return and proved just why he earned that four-year, $64 million contract extension. Murray made his mark on the game early and often, finishing with 18 points, eight rebounds, six assists, and three steals.
Murray weaved his way through the New York defense to get to the rim, converting twice for the hoop and a foul. He found his teammates for buckets, he leaped high for boards and used his speed to push the pace.
“I thought he was aggressive, Popovich said. “He’s come a long way.”
The Spurs are going to rely on Murray’s improved play this season as he looks to have the keys to the offense. With him driving the car, San Antonio’s future is in good hands.
Speaking of the future, the Spurs got a solid night’s work out of Bryn Forbes, who kept his starting spot from a year ago.
Forbes had 20 points on 7-for-12 shooting and went 3-for-6 from beyond the arc. His smooth shooting opened the scoring for San Antonio and was not shy about letting the ball fly. It is clear that Coach Pop trusts the young guard and Forbes’ confidence is through the roof.
If Forbes and Murray can play at this level on a consistent basis, the Spurs will surprise many people this season.
“He’s one of the best players I’ve ever played with,” Forbes said of Murray. “He gave us life on the defensive end. He gives us that spark we’re looking for.”
Prior to Wednesday’s season opener, it was reported that the Spurs fully guaranteed LaMarcus Aldridge’s contract for the 2020-21 season. Aldridge’s performance later in the game showed exactly why the Spurs see value in him.
Aldridge finished with a team-high 22 points on 8-of-15 shooting from the floor. He cleaned up the glass, hit his lone shot from three-point range, and banged down low with Julias Randle.
The Spurs are now 1-0 on the season and will return to the court on Saturday night when they welcome the Washington Wizards (0-1) to the AT&T Center at 7:30 p.m.