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 show their youth in final minutes to Magic

San Antonio’s 4th quarter run falls short due to late-game turnovers
Spurs+show+their+youth+in+final+minutes+to+Magic
Courtesy of the San Antonio Spurs/Arthur Reginald Thomas II

The 17,081 fans at the Frost Bank Center saw the complete San Antonio Spurs’ experience on Wednesday night.

From a tight first-half game to a lackadaisical third quarter to a late fourth-quarter comeback that turned into a turnover frenzy in the final two minutes, the Spurs showed it all in a 108-98 loss to the Orlando Magic.

San Antonio (10-38) was led by guard Devin Vassell, who had a game-high 26 points. Rookie forward Victor Wembanyama contributed 21 points along with running mate Jeremy Sochan, who added 18, making them the only three players to score double figures for the Silver and Black. Orlando (25-23) had five players with double-digit scoring, led by former No. 1 overall pick from the 2022 NBA Draft, Paolo Banchero (25).

As young teams often do, the Spurs had trouble turning the ball over, amassing 19 giveaways to the Magic’s 16. Orlando was able to cash in San Antonio’s miscues into 23 points, which is where the ball game lies.

“We’re at a point in the season where we learn a little bit ourselves, but you know the 40-plus games are catching up on us, and we need to stay focused on every one of them,” Wembanyama said of the team’s turnover problems. “Each game counts, and we can’t just not pay attention to this because this has been one of, if not the biggest problem all year.”

The Spurs found themselves trailing six points at halftime and later down 25 in the third quarter. San Antonio began the game 3 of 21 from 3-point range alongside the giveaways to help dig their hole.

The team stayed together, though, igniting a 15-0 run in the final frame to cut the deficit to 99-96. 

“Pop always preaches ‘All 48 minutes,’ and that’s what we did,” Vassell said of the rally. “We got to play better in that third quarter. Too many turnovers, dropped possessions and just basically had [Orlando] doing layup lines. It’s tough to come back in the fourth quarter down 20. We did a great job obviously cutting that lead back down and making it a game. But we kind of shot ourselves in the foot with that one.”

Sure enough, in a three-point game with 3:27 remaining in the game, the Spurs showed their youth.

San Antonio allowed the Magic an extra offensive possession after failing to get a defensive rebound, which resulted in two free throws from Wendell Carter Jr. Wembanyama then committed a turnover, leading to a basket for Orlando’s Markelle Fultz. Cedi Osman lost the ball out of bounds, Vassell missed two free throws and Wembanyama had another turnover to let the game get fully out of reach.

Coach Gregg Popovich noticed some similarities in the Spurs late-game collapse.

“We have a tendency when we get down — it’s not a selfish thing, but just an unwise thing — that we’re going to do it on our own,” he said. “We’re not built like that right now. We got to do it together. But we’ll forget that because people try too hard to do it on their own.”

Though another disappointing finish finds its way into the loss column, the Spurs can lean on their season progression as motivation for the final 2.5 months of the season.

The 16 games San Antonio played in January were the most for any month in the 2023-24 season. Despite the long month, the Spurs continue to move in a positive direction. 

After starting the season 2-2 in late October, San Antonio went just 1-13 in November and followed up with a 2-12 record in December. In the 16 games in January, the Spurs went 5-11.

Not only did San Antonio have its most wins in January, but the losses saw improvement.

In the 13 November defeats, the Spurs lost by an average of 14.6 points per game and got slightly worse in December, losing by an average of 15.8 points per game. In the new year, however, San Antonio lost its 11 games by 9.5 points per game. 

The Spurs will start their annual Rodeo road trip and will return to the Frost Bank Center on Feb. 29.

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About the Contributor
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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