Spurs stepping up, hope to have their star back vs. Jazz

League: NBA

Posted on: 27 Mar, 2024 at 12:38 AM

Credit: Daniel Dunn-USA TODAY Sports

Despite not having Victor Wembanyama in action on Monday night, the San Antonio Spurs pulled off a big upset win over the Phoenix Suns.

Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said Wembanyama's left ankle injury isn't too serious and listed his chances of playing against the Utah Jazz on Wednesday night in Salt Lake City as "a little better than 50-50."

Picking up that 104-102 win over the Suns without him, however, made the outcome all the sweeter for San Antonio (16-56).

"That's a big win," Devin Vassell shouted over the P.A. system after the game. "That's a big win."

Jeremy Sochan scored 26 points, including a big 3-pointer down the stretch, and hauled in a career-high 18 rebounds to fill the void left by San Antonio's Rookie of the Year candidate.

"He's a key piece we are missing, and I think that makes us, we need to be more connected in that sense if we are missing him," Sochan said of Wembanyama. "We got to do stuff he does, whether that's defense, rebounding, making it difficult for people to score in the paint, because we don't have him as a key piece."

The game was a big turnaround from the Spurs' 131-106 loss to the Suns on Saturday. They used a 16-0 second-half run and took an 83-74 lead early in the fourth quarter Monday after trailing by nine late in the third quarter.

It was San Antonio's second win during an eight-game homestead and snapped a three-game losing streak.

The Jazz (29-43) didn't have nearly as much luck at home Monday night while coming apart at the seams in the fourth quarter against the Dallas Mavericks.

Despite a terrific outing by Lauri Markkanen, Utah squandered a golden opportunity to surprise the Mavs when Dallas went on a 16-2 run in the fourth quarter of what turned out to be a 115-105 Jazz loss.

The Jazz led by one after a Collin Sexton 3-pointer with 10 minutes remaining when Luka Doncic and company seized control. Utah only made seven field goals in the fourth quarter while scoring just 17 points.

That was a big difference from the first half, when Utah took a 41-37 lead after the first quarter and led 66-61 at halftime.

"In the second half offensively, I thought we gave into fatigue and went into auto pilot," Jazz coach Will Hardy said. "The ball started to stick, our spacing wasn't as crisp and the decisions weren't being made as quickly."

Markkanen finished with 34 points and six 3-pointers, John Collins contributed 21 points and 11 rebounds and Sexton scored 20.

"We got to be able to execute," said Markkanen, who scored 20 in the opening half. "Offensively, we have to execute the whole game and keep playing the way we played in the first three (quarters). Move the ball and create for each other and be focused through the whole 48."

Utah won the first two meetings against San Antonio this season -- 130-118 on Dec. 26 and 128-109 on Feb. 25.

--Field Level Media