By Gareth Gibbins
Yesterday it was the rookies. Today it was the veterans’ turn. Behind impressive performances by Lonnie Walker IV and Drew Eubanks, the Summer Spurs survived a late rally by the Toronto Raptors, who outscored the Spurs 31-10 in the fourth quarter, to prevail 93-90.
After putting on a display in the Spurs 106-96 win over the Charlotte Hornets, the Spurs rookie trio of Keldon Johnson, Luka Samanic and Quinndary Weatherspoon were all “DND – Rest” for today’s game. Indeed, the bond is real.
Back in the line-up, Walker wasted no time getting to work, relentlessly attacking the basket on his way to 13 first quarter points. Eubanks also had a fast start to the game with seven points, while going 3-4 points from the field.
Walker continued to keep the pedal to the metal in the second quarter, finishing the first half with 23 points on 9-14 shooting. Eubanks also kept up his strong play with 13 points on 5-6 shooting.
When the final buzzer sounded, Walker had 32 points and Eubanks a non-traditional double-double with 19 points and 10 fouls.
Five-year pro Thomas Robinson also contributed a sold 14 points off the bench while shooting 6-7 from the field.
After the game, it was Walker’s leadership and complete game (despite finishing with only two assists) that caught Coach Becky Hammon’s attention.
“I thought he did a much better job today getting other guys involved too, picking his spots,” said Hammon. “The way he has taken ownership with the guys and has been talking through it and leading by example, especially first on the defensive end and just being locked in and ready to go on the defensive end helps a lot. Kind of sets the tone for the team.”
He has a beautiful sky hook
While there were lots of compliments to be given to Walker after the game, and deservedly so, he was more than happy to praise fellow Austin Spurs alum Eubanks on his strong play.
“I’m just more than blessed just to have Drew,” said Walker. “He’s a very athletic dude. He has a beautiful skyhook and he’s great at doing screens. He’s also a great defender. He has improved every single day and he is going to continue to improve and I think he is going to shock a lot of people.”
Let’s get physical
There was a total of 57 fouls in the game (34 for the Spurs) and most were not of the ticky-tack variety. Eubanks was even ejected for picking up a flagrant two foul (for catching Raptors forward Chris Boucher below the belt), likely a first in Summer Spurs history.
With Walker in attack mode, he was one of the primary recipients of the physical play.
“I thought the game got very very physical today. He (Walker) stuck through it, he took a lot of hits,” said Hammon. “So he will be taking an ice bath for twenty minutes cause he got hit everywhere today.”
Walker acknowledged the physical play but was undeterred.
“You could feel it throughout the entire time”, said Walker. “Coming off screens, almost every layup. It was probably the most intense summer league game I’ve played so far.”
With Walker putting up 23 points at the half and 32 points after three quarters, there was talk of a Summer Spurs scoring record.
As far as I can tell, Bryn Forbes holds the record, having scored 35 points during Summer League twice in 2017, earning himself the hashtag #SummerofBryn.
With Walker going scoreless in the fourth quarter, and finishing with 32 points, Forbes can sleep easy tonight. His record is safe.
In the house
Dejounte Murray was sitting courtside at the start of the game to cheer on the Summer Spurs and was joined shortly after by Rudy Gay. It was good to see them in the building to support the squad (and, for Gay, sign a new contract).
Rudy Gay has joined Dejounte Murray courtside! #SummerSpurs pic.twitter.com/ntVVFo6XaI
— Spurs in the 6 (@spursinthe6) July 8, 2019
“It’s definitely a confidence booster,” Walker said after the game. “It’s good to show off your talents but also listen to them sometimes when you are playing games and have them watch you.”
Indeed, Walker stole a moment or two to have a couple of quick conversations with Murray and Gay as the game went along.
“There was a number of laughs and good ones,” admitted Walker. “I’m just happy to have my family watching, watching our team. It just shows how the Spurs are and how we work.”
The Summer Spurs are off on Tuesday. They return to the court on Wednesday to face the Phoenix Suns. Tip-off time 6pm PST (8pm CST, 7pm EST).
With the day off, we will see whether the veterans and rookies both play.
6pm PST (4pm CST, 3pm EST). Might want to fix…Good read!