Bertans shines, but Austin Spurs lose home opener

Bertans shines, but Austin Spurs lose home opener

zz Project Spurs

Bertans shines, but Austin Spurs lose home opener

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CEDAR PARK – The San Antonio Spurs assigning Davis Bertans, Bryn Forbes and Dejounte Murray to Austin prior to Sunday afternoon’s game gave the Austin Spurs five players on their roster that have logged regular season NBA minutes.

But all that fire power wouldn’t be enough for the D-League Spurs, as they dropped their home opener, 118-95, against the Oklahoma City Blue.

Bertans led the way for Austin, scoring 22 points to go along with six rebounds, two assists and three steals. Murray would be a spark plug in the fourth quarter, finishing the game with 18 points, six rebounds and seven assists. Former San Antonio Spurs forward Patricio Garino also had a solid game, stuffing the stat sheet with 18 points, four rebounds, four assists and three steals. Forbes struggled on offense shooting 2-for-8, leading to just seven points.

The Blue played like a cohesive unit, with six players scoring in double figures. Chris Wright led Oklahoma City with 22 points in 21 minutes. Wright also had five steals, four rebounds and three assists. Dakari Johnson notched a double-double with 20 points and 10 rebounds, while former San Antonio Spurs guard Reggie Williams finished with 18 points, five rebounds and five assists.

Both teams started off hot with Bertans making his first three 3-pointers, finishing the quarter with 11 points. But Austin’s defense struggled to contain the Blue, as Oklahoma City finished the quarter shooting 50 percent from the field and 63 percent from beyond the arc to take an early 31-28 lead.

Oklahoma City would go on a 12-2 run to start the second quarter, pushing their lead to 15 points. Bertans would answer with another 3-pointer to end the run, but the Blue rallied with an 8-0 run before the half that the Spurs would never recover from.

It will be a quick turnaround for the Austin Spurs (0-1) as they host a School House Rock day against the Reno Bighorns (0-1) this Tuesday. Tipoff is at 11 a.m. CST from the H-E-B Center at Cedar Park, and will also be broadcasted via Facebook Live on the NBA Development League’s Facebook page.

OBSERVATIONS

  • Let’s start with Bertans: The rookie out of Latvia started the game playing center, which was great from an offensive perspective only. All of his 22 points came in the first half, as he shot 6-for-8 from beyond the arc to start the game. His cold shooting wasn’t much of an issue in the second half, since the Spurs had enough fire power behind him to stay afloat. Defensively is where he struggled the most, as he was overmatched against the larger and quicker Dakari Johnson. The Austin Spurs lack size, so they’ll be constantly out-rebounded by opposing teams (Blue were +17 in the rebounding department), but Livio Jean-Charles and Cory Jefferson should be better at defending the interior than Bertans.
  • Murray finally made his D-League debut, even though he’s already been assigned three times to Austin. The Cory Joseph Kyle Anderson ‘Rookie Point Guard Experiment’ had its ups and downs on Sunday night. Murray had an impressive, stat sheet-stuffing line of 18 points, six rebounds, seven assists and three steals in 37 minutes of action. He also had a costly six turnovers as he ran the point all night. It’s hard to judge his ability to run the offense on a night like Sunday, with the Spurs running around with four guys who aren’t part of the usual active roster. But Murray took advantage of his matchup all night long driving into the paint at will, finishing with 12 points in the paint.
  • Garino made life hell for Oklahoma City all night, despite his +/- rating of -15. His three steals were very Kawhi Leonard-esque, filling the lane and reading passes with ease. He even managed to have a solid offensive explosion in the third quarter, scoring 14 of his 18 points in the frame. If I was a betting man, I’d say Garino or Jarell Eddie would be the first to receive an NBA call up this season.

HIGHLIGHTS

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