After their first preseason game, the San Antonio Spurs were committed to not having a repeat performance of poor shooting.
On Thursday night, they succeeded for three quarters. Then the fourth quarter happened.
The Spurs lost at home to the Orlando Magic 102-99, after the team coughed up eight turnovers and only shot 7 of 19 (36.8%) from the field in the final quarter.
Forward Doug McDermott led San Antonio with 14 points, while Keita Bates-Diop had 12 and Tre Jones and Devin Vassell each scored 11.
Spurs Head Coach Gregg Popovich thought the team tried hard, but said they still have much to clean up.
“They competed well. We turned it over too much. 35 points off turnovers and that’s going to make it tough … A lot of guys played better than the other night, we were more physical. We moved better on offense, so I thought they got better,” Popovich said.
Popovich praised the play of Bates-Diop, a fourth-year forward, citing his steady defensive play and improved range from deep as he went four-for-four from three-point range during the game.
“We want him to shoot those shots. When he first came here, he wouldn’t have done that. Or if he did, he probably wouldn’t have made it. But he’s obviously getting more confident and getting it off quickly and knows when he is open. He did a fine job tonight,” he said.
Bates-Diop himself said with each game, his confidence is growing.
“I worked a lot on it this summer. He (Coach Popovich) has confidence in me shooting and I have confidence in myself shooting it,” Bates-Diop said. “I think that’s part of the reason Pop trusts me to be in there. He trusts me with my length to be able to do a lot of things.”
The Spurs rookies again saw lots of playing time — forward Jeremy Sochan banked 22 minutes, scoring five points and grabbing four rebounds. Guards Malaki Branham scored seven points on three-of-six shooting, and Blake Wesley had eight points and four rebounds in 16 minutes.
“Those guys aren’t scared, that’s for sure. I think that’s half the battle as a rookie,” said Spurs forward Doug McDermott. “These guys come in and they’re aggressive. So, that’s a good sign right there. The game is probably going a little fast for them right now. I think when the game slows down for them, they’re going to be really good.”
Before the game, the team also announced some welcomed news, as Popovich provided an update to two of the team’s most talented young stars.
Popovich said veteran forward Keldon Johnson and guard Josh Primo will most likely make their returns at the end of the preseason, likely playing the last two games.
They would then be ready for the start of the regular season, when they play Oct. 19 at home against the Charlotte Hornets.
The Spurs’ next preseason game is Oct. 9 at home versus the New Orleans Pelicans. Tip-off is scheduled for 6 p.m.