It’s been a rough start to the year for the San Antonio Spurs this year. The most consistent franchise in basketball over the last two decades entered Tuesday night’s game against the Houston Rockets sitting at 7-14 and on the outside looking in on the postseason picture in the Western Conference. It looked like Tuesday was going to be much of the same, with San Antonio trailing by as many as 22 points and facing a 16-point deficit as the fourth quarter began.
Instead, the Spurs fought their way back into the game, riding a career night by Lonnie Walker en route to a thrilling 135-133 win in double overtime. Walker, a former standout at the University of Miami, was absolutely magnificent, scoring 28 points off the bench on 10-f0r-19 shooting from the field. This included plenty of dunking, but the most impressive moment came at the end of regulation, when he drilled a lengthy triple in P.J. Tucker’s eye to force the extra frame.
— San Antonio Spurs (@spurs) December 4, 2019
That three was good, but what might have been even better came on the other end. James Harden — more on him in a moment — got into the paint with just over a second left and attempted a layup. What he did not anticipate was that Jakob Poeltl was going to be right there to send his attempt into the stands.
— NBA TV (@NBATV) December 4, 2019
The overtime periods were, as anticipated, tight throughout. Every time it seemed like the Spurs hit a backbreaking shot, the Rockets would respond, oftentimes by getting players to the free throw line. Harden, as he oftentimes does, lived at the stripe, going 24-for-24 and setting the regular season record for the most made free throws without a miss. His propensity to try to get fouled and put up shots, however, ultimately led to the moment that sealed the game for San Antonio.
DeMar DeRozan had just hit a pair of free throws to put the Spurs up by one with a touch over three seconds remaining in double OT. Everyone on earth knew that Harden was getting the ball, and after getting into the lane, he tried to put up a floater. DeRozan knew this was coming, so he slid in front of the restricted area, got set, and drew a charge.
DeMar DeRozan draws the game winning charge on James Harden. Wow. pic.twitter.com/JFHtr01Rtu
— Dime (@DimeUPROXX) December 4, 2019
Walker would hit one of two free throws on the other end, and San Antonio would go on to pick up a win it really could have used. Walker’s 28 points led his team, Bryn Forbes pitched in 25, and DeRozan had 23. Poeltl impressibely stuffed the stat sheet — six points, 15 rebounds, five assists, and five blocks. Harden, meanwhile, scored 50 points, but outside of his time at the line, he had an issue consistently hitting shots, going 11-for-38 and 4-for-20 from three. Clint Capela had 22 points and 21 boards, while Russell Westbrook had 19 points on 7-for 30 shooting. Austin Rivers also chipped in 19 points off the bench.
For a while, it looked like this one was set to be a game people remembered thanks to one of the weirdest moments you’ll see on a basketball court this year. Instead, the Spurs dug deep and rallied for a hard-fought and incredibly entertaining win.