Poeltl has 20 points, 16 rebounds as Spurs rally past Bulls

San Antonio Spurs guard Derrick White, left, shoots against Chicago Bulls forward Lauri Markkanen during the first half of an NBA basketball game in Chicago, Wednesday, March 17, 2021. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh) (Nam Y. Huh, Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

CHICAGO – Jakob Poeltl tied a career high with 20 points and set one with 16 rebounds, and the San Antonio Spurs used a huge fourth quarter to beat the Chicago Bulls 106-99 on Wednesday night.

The Spurs trailed by 23 in the second quarter and were down 58-40 after their lowest-scoring first half of the season. But they dominated Chicago 39-19 in the fourth to come away with their second straight win after losing three of four.

Derrick White scored 17 points — nine in the final quarter. Dejounte Murray, Keldon Johnson and Patty Mills each scored 14. Mills also had two steals, and the Spurs came out on top even though they made just 8 of 31 3-pointers.

“We played two great defensive quarters in the second half, spurred on by Patty Mills' aggressiveness, and it just seemed to infect everybody else," coach Gregg Popovich said. “Offensively, we made a few shots, which we did not do in the first half. Jakob had a wonderful game.”

Zach LaVine led Chicago with 29 points after scoring 40 the previous night in a win over Oklahoma City. Thaddeus Young, playing his 1,000th game, scored 16. And rookie Patrick Williams grabbed a personal-best 14 rebounds.

“You're (ticked) off,” LaVine said. “I don't know how anybody else feels. I know how I feel. It's upsetting. You feel the momentum shift in the game, and sometimes, you can't do a lot about it. I think I've got to take better responsibility, myself, as a leader of the team to try to get guys together.”

The Bulls led 80—67 through three quarters, only to have San Antonio open the fourth on a 12-0 run. Chicago responded with a 9-2 spurt. But the Spurs reeled off 17 in a row.

Dejounte Murray gave them a 90-89 lead with a floater in transition and capped the run with a 15-footer to make it 98-89 with 2:44 remaining.

One big difference for the Spurs in the second half was they went to a press.

“It's not even about getting steals out of it,” Poeltl said. “It's more about getting us going on defense and maybe speeding them up, forcing them to take a bad shot or two. And I think that's really what got us going, got us to play more physical on defense. As a result of that, we got better rhythm shots on offense and they started falling.”


The Bulls made 8 of 9 free throws. And LaVine — with three attempts — was the only starter to get to the line.

“I guess San Antonio's the best defensive team in the NBA,” LaVine said. “I know that they don't foul a lot. I know I was going to the hole, and I drive aggressively. I know Thad drives aggressively. ... Obviously, San Antonio was pretty perfect tonight.”


Spurs: The Spurs' previous low for points in the first half was 45, and they matched one by scoring 16 in the opening quarter. ... The Spurs hope to have F DeMar DeRozan (personal reasons) back when they visit Cleveland on Friday, though coach Gregg Popovich said it's “not in stone, yet.” DeRozan missed his fourth consecutive game, while F Keita Bates-Diop (strained right hamstring) sat out his second in a row. ... Murray had a suggestion for LaVine after the All-Star went off for 40 against Oklahoma City. He wrote “SIT OUT TOMORROW AND GET SOME REST!!!” in response to LaVine's Instagram post following the game. LaVine responded with laughing emojis.

Bulls: The 16 points allowed in the first quarter matched a season low for Chicago. ... Coach Billy Donovan had plenty of praise for Young, a 14-year veteran. “Great guy. All the about team,” Donovan said. “Appreciate the investment he's made in a lot of the younger guys because that takes energy to do that. He's been really patient with those guys. I think think he's a great role model in a lot of ways.”


Spurs: At Cleveland on Friday night.

Bulls: At Denver on Friday night.


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