Spurs visit Magic in match of struggling teams

NBA

The doldrums of the NBA season have taken their toll on the San Antonio Spurs and the Orlando Magic, and both teams will be looking to begin a late-season push when they square off on Monday in Orlando in the second game of a back-to-back.

Both San Antonio and Orlando have been dismal since the All-Star break, with the Spurs winning seven of their 19 games in the season’s second half and the Magic only capturing four games in 17 outings since March 11.

But things might be looking up for the Spurs. San Antonio heads to central Florida on the heels of a 119-117 win at Dallas on Sunday that snapped a five-game losing streak. DeMar DeRozan scored 33 points in the win for the Spurs, including the deciding jumper with less than a second to play.

A pair of free throws and then a running jumper by Dallas’ Luka Doncic tied Sunday’s game at 117 with 19.4 seconds remaining. The Spurs called a timeout and set up a play for DeRozan, who dribbled the ball on the perimeter before rising up over Dorian Finney-Smith to hit the game winner.

“Man, I have to do whatever I have to do,” said DeRozan, who scored 30 or more points for the eighth time this season. “It’s sucked being on this losing streak, and I told the team that we’ve got to do whatever we can to win.”

Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said DeRozan relishes the opportunity to take the last shot.

“DeMar’s got courage,” Popovich said after the win. “He misses some of them, makes some of them, just like everybody through the ages. But he just comes back and does it again. … Just like a hitter in baseball.”

Dejounte Murray added 25 points for the Spurs, with Lonnie Walker IV scoring 13 and Jakob Poeltl hitting for 12 points for San Antonio, who are now 1-2 on their current five-game road trip.

The Magic lost at home to shorthanded Milwaukee 124-87 on Sunday, falling for the fifth straight outing. The Bucks won in runaway fashion despite the absence of Giannis Antetokounmpo, who missed his fifth straight game because of left knee soreness.

“We’re gonna have some nights like this,” Magic coach Steve Clifford said. “It’s where we’re at. It was a bad performance. … I’m in charge of the team, and we’ve got to do better. It’s gonna be part of this — I mean it can’t be every night, obviously.

“You can’t play like we did tonight. Nobody got better. You don’t just throw guys out there if they don’t have the right approach.”

The Magic were outshot 48.9 percent to 37.2 percent in the defeat and were outrebounded 56-37. Orlando’s starters scored just 39 points in the game.

Mo Bamba led the Magic with a career-high 21 points in the loss to Milwaukee, while Cole Anthony scored 12 as the only other Orlando player in double figures.

Bamba refused to take any praise for his play in the loss, saying instead that everyone needed to be better.

“We just needed to defend, and that’s been the theme in our last two or three games,” Bamba explained. “We need to defend, we need to have an identity of team defense and go out there and make the right rotations.”

–Field Level Media

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.