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San Antonio vs. Chicago, Final Score: Spurs overrun the Bulls with strong third quarter, win 131-122

In DeMar DeRozan's much-anticipated return to the Alamo City, he provided fans frequent reminders of his considerable contributions, while receiving his flowers, but it was a balanced effort from the Spurs that overwhelmed the Bulls late in the third quarter.

Chicago and San Antonio gave the viewing audience an entertaining 48 minutes of game action highlighted by frenetic pacing, great shooting, and mistake-free execution. In a game that had a dozen lead changes and seven ties, it was a sustained push by the Spurs spanning the third and fourth quarters, assisting on 35 of their 50 makes, and beating the top 3-point shooting team in the league at its own game that proved enough to hold off the contending Bulls.

San Antonio received another balanced effort across its key players - this time from All-Star candidate Dejounte Murray (29 points, 12 assists, 9 rebounds, and 3 steals), Jakob Poeltl (21 points and 11 rebounds), Keldon Johnson (23 points) and 8 rebounds), and Derrick White (14 points and 9 assists). The Spurs edged past New Orleans into 11th in the West.

Chicago's Zach Lavine (30 points, 4 assists, and 4 rebounds) and Nicola Vucevic (18 points and 8 rebounds) were aided by Coby White's (18 points) dynamism off the bench in support of DeRozan (32 points, 8 assists, and 6 rebounds).

Observations:

  • Does anyone else find it weird that San Antonio has traded two star swingmen to Chicago (George Gervin and DeRozan)?
  • Happy 73rd Birthday, Pop!
  • Another very timely and relevant PtR roundtable on the fate of key former Spurs that have departed us.
  • I remain hopeful Spurs fans will largely look upon DeRozan's brief tenure with the team appreciatively and fondly based on his character and loyalty. It certainly helps when Pop calls him “one of my favorite guys of all time. ”
  • The Derrick White bobblehead is spot-on!
  • This felt like the type of game suited for Lonnie Walker IV to come in and wreak offensive havoc and ... mixed results.
  • I think one of the biggest differences DeRozan is seeing on the pick-and-roll this year (compared to his time in SA), is that he has a big that is very comfortable shooting from behind the arc (Vucevic compared to Aldridge or anyone else) and a fellow wing (LaVine) to truly keep the opposition honest.
  • Was trying to put my finger on what Primo's shooting stroke resembled and could only come up with va combination of PJ Tucker and Byron Scott.
  • Doug McDermott's help defense seems ... helpful!
  • (Derrick) White inexplicably was called for three blocking fouls - that normally would have been his patented charges - but because the other party each time was Lavine, he ended up in foul trouble.
  • Devin's Deeds: Here's Bill Land in Vassell's first shot made: “Devin Vassell comes into the game and immediately produces.”More impressively, he worked through lots of contact on a drive at the end of the first to smoothly hammer home two.
  • Keldon's Kitchen: Late in the third, Keldon drove it into the paint and used his defender's body to spin off and get a double pump a floater home. Johnson was very capable as the primary defender on DeRozan.
  • Sequence of the Game A: Murray scored six in a row midway through the second in the most Dejounte-like way possible: an aggressive cross-over into a finger roll, followed by an impressive lay-in over two Bulls, picking LaVine clean at halfcourt, missing the ensuing lay-up, swiping it clean from Vucevic, and floating a stepback on the wing.
  • Sequence of the Game B: In the critical minutes of the fourth, Poeltl initiated a fast break and Walker IV found him streaking down the court for a one-handed tomahawk jam.
  • Are Whataburger taquitos a thing?
  • I think Bill Land had at least six different pronunciations of Ayo Dosunmu's name.
  • There is a bovine stuffed animal in our household named “DeMoo DeRozan. ”
  • The teams stormed out of the gates committed to playing fast and free. The Bulls' rookie guards pestered the Spurs on the perimeter, while Poeltl made his first two buckets. Vucevic and Coby White helped Chicago leap ahead by nine with two impressive buckets apiece. DeRozan busted out his best greatest midrange hits to help his team sustain its advantage. A noticeably more muscular version of Joshua Primo nailed his first three. (Coby) White's three ended the first quarter scoring at 35-29.
  • (Coby) White continued his perfect shooting to nudge the Bulls lead to double digits in the second. Murray rampaged the Bulls on his own run to help San Antonio momentarily get a lead. DeRozan's baseline and wing wizardry helped open up a line to the basket for Chicago to jump back ahead. Murray and Vassell tried to counter to help the Spurs keep pace. A corner three by Walker IV shaved it to three. While Bill Land wailed “I hope they're tired of scoring,DeRozan nailed a baseline fade. The tired combatants exited the half with Chicago up 68-63.
  • In the third period, Murray's pull-up from the elbow tied things at 71. Lavine supplied Chicago's only points for the opening handful of minutes. The Spurs shooting touch betrayed them over too many possessions. Threes by Murray and Walker IV were emphatic responses to a DeRozan dunk in transition. A (Derrick) White three followed by a floater in the lane along with a Vassell make in the lane briefly gave San Antonio its biggest lead at nine. Chicago exited the frame down by seven.
  • A Vassell three and Poeltl 3-point play fazed the visitors to start the fourth. Primo drew an offensive foul to force a turnover and punched an inbounds pass into the crowd. Eubanks was whistled for a very questionable offensive foul of his own. Chicago made its inevitable run to trim the deficit to two behind DeRozan, Lavine, (Coby) White, and Vucevic. Murray valiantly countered with two of his own conversions. A Johnson three caused Michelle Beadle to punch Sean Elliott and push the Bulls back down by seven. Johnson was gifted three few throws on a weird closeout by Vucevic and swished all three. Derrick) White helped eke the Spurs lead into double-digits.
  • In the closing moments, a jumper by Murray and lay-in by Poeltl sandwiched a DeRozan miss. A DeRozan three pulled the Bulls to within four. Murray found Poeltl in the paint for a confident pop-a-shot by making it 126-120. An unforced turnover by Chicago with 48 seconds left snuffed out any chance for a comeback, and Murray deftly willed home a floater to ice away a resounding victory for San Antonio.

For the Bulls fan's perspective, please visit Blog and Bull.

San Antonio next takes on the West's two best teams starting with a tilt against Devin Booker and the Phoenix Suns on Sunday, January 30 at 7:00 PM CT.

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