Independent Student Newspaper for the University of Texas at San Antonio

The Paisano

Independent Student Newspaper for the University of Texas at San Antonio

The Paisano

Independent Student Newspaper for the University of Texas at San Antonio

The Paisano

Spurs win final home preseason game a week out from the start of the regular season

San Antonio to host Dallas in the season opener on Wednesday
Courtesy of Reginald Thomas/Spurs

SAN ANTONIO – After finishing as the bottom two teams in the NBA’s Western Conference last season, San Antonio and Houston come into the 2023 season hoping for improvement. 

Through four preseason games, the Spurs and Rockets played each other twice, with each team walking away with a win. 

Houston took the first game on Monday night, winning 99-89 and having five players finish with double figures scoring. San Antonio rested notable players such as Victor Wembanyama and Devin Vassell, with Zach Collins leading the team in scoring with 18 points and Jeremy Sochan behind with 13 points. 

The Spurs turned things around on Wednesday night, beating the Rockets 117-103. Both Wembanyama and Vassell returned to action in the team’s final home preseason game, with Vassell exploding for 25 first-half points. 

Vassell began the game with four quick 3-pointers to set up his electric offensive performance.

“Once I start shooting those it just opens up everything,” Vassell said. “I can get to the lane, everything opens up. They got to come out to me, everybody else is open.”

Wembanyama was the Spurs second leading scorer, finishing the game with 15 points and two threes of his own. The 7-foot-5 forward was also showing off his guard skills, often bringing up the ball and even completing a nutmeg.

Though the preseason can always be chopped up as meaningless, there have been a lot of takeaways for the Spurs less than a week out from the start of the regular season.

San Antonio has gone 2-2 through four of the five games on the preseason schedule. The addition of Wembanyama has caused the Spurs to toil with the starting lineup. Along with the Frenchman in the front court is Zach Collins, who made several starts in the latter half of last season.

The first four game experiment has gone well according to head coach Gregg Popovich.

“They better play well or we’re in trouble,” Popovich said of the big man duo. “Those are the big guys. They’re tall, they’re big, they’re going to start. They’re getting used to each other, trying to figure out where to be in relation to the perimeter players.”

Courtesy of Reginald Thomas/Spurs

Popovich also added that his team is still young and will learn to finish games better as time comes. The Spurs led by as many as 23 points early in Wednesday’s game before allowing the Rockets to cut the deficit to single digits.

“We’re not mature enough to understand that it’s a 48 minute game,” Popovich said. “It got easy there in the first quarter. Started the second quarter, turned it over, stopped moving, stopped cutting –– they’re young. That’s where we have to be on top of them so they realize that.”

Along with Wembanyama and Collins, Vassell, Sochan and Keldon Johnson will fill out the starting five. With the start of the NBA season around the corner, Wembanyama likes where things are going with the starters.

“I think we experienced the type of spacing we are going to get for the season,” Wembanyama said. “Of course there’s some adjustments, but we had shots falling, especially from [Vassell]. When we play together, everything is smooth.”

The Spurs will finish off their preseason schedule with a game against Golden State on Friday. San Antonio will return home to open the regular season against the Dallas Mavericks at 7 p.m. Wednesday, at the Frost Bank Center.

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About the Contributor
Luke Lawhorn
Luke Lawhorn, Sports Editor
Luke (he/him) is an English major at UTSA and is set to graduate in the Spring of 2024. This is his fifth semester at The Paisano and his fourth as the Sports Editor. Along with covering UTSA sports and events, Luke also covers high school sports and local events for the San Antonio Express-News and covers the San Antonio Spurs for The Paisano. He has a huge passion for covering sports and giving his opinion on them. Outside of writing and talking about sports, Luke's hobbies include playing basketball, watching movies and all things outdoors.

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