Spurs lose overtime thriller against Phoenix

Sochan drops 30-point career-high against the Suns

Luke Lawhorn, Sports Editor

San Antonio – As stated before the 2022-23 season, the goal for the San Antonio Spurs was to develop young talent and build confidence to go toe-to-toe with any team in the NBA. 

Despite the 14-36 overall record, the Spurs have kept their end of the bargain.

The Spurs fell to the Suns 128-118 in overtime on Saturday evening at the AT&T Center. Though down-to-the-wire losses may feel disappointing, Jeremy Sochan dropped a career-high 30 points, shooting 3 of 6 from three and snagging eight rebounds. 

Keldon Johnson led the game with 34 points in 41 minutes. Johnson has come alive, having dropped a career-high 36 points just 10 days ago.

“Tough way to lose, but I am really proud of what they did,” Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said.

The Spurs never led in Saturday night’s game and trailed by as many as 13 points early in the fourth quarter. The young San Antonio squad closed the quarter on an 18-7 run to force the extra period.

San Antonio’s run was jump-started with five points from Stanely Johnson. After a defensive stand, Johnson was passed the ball for an open fast break layup to cut the score to 95-90, forcing a Phoenix timeout.

After hitting another 3-pointer, Johnson made a driving layup to cut the score to 103-100. Jakob Poeltl blocked Suns’ forward Torrey Craig’s layup, with Johnson getting the ball and scoring another layup to trail by one.

Down by 3-points with 59 seconds left, Johnson drove the ball to the basket, scoring a 2-foot jump shot and getting fouled. The Kentucky alum drilled his free throw, tying the game at 110 and sending it to overtime.

Suns’ guard Chris Paul had 31 points in the win, while teammate Mikal Bridges had 25 points, eight of which came in overtime.

Though the overtime loss can be crushing, the Spurs see these situations as growing pains and will use these learning experiences for future seasons.

“It’s not going to be perfect; it’s going to have its ups and downs,” Sochan said. “I just try to stay in the moment and do the best that I can do. Being part of this organization where they trust me, believe in me, help me, I think it’s a lot easier.”

Sochan becomes the youngest player in Spurs history to score 30 points in a game. The 19-year-old is ahead of schedule in terms of development, and Johnson, now four years into the big leagues, has seen great improvement in his scoring, going from 12.8 points per game in his second season to 21.5 points per game in his fourth season.

“We’ve been getting better and better; I’m proud of each and every single one of them,” Johnson said. “It’s tough in the NBA; it’s [against] professionals. We just have to continue getting better, and I feel like we’re right there.”

After three more home games, the Spurs will travel on a 9-game road trip. Without any playoff expectations or a playoff reality, San Antonio can expect their player development to continue to grow and show bright spots for the future.

“We are way better than we were a month ago, two weeks ago,” Johnson said. “I feel like, you know, we’re getting better and better. That’s all I can really ask for my teammates.”