HomeBasketball TodayPopovich's Epic Meltdown: Spurs' Heartbreaking Defeat Against Pelicans

Popovich’s Epic Meltdown: Spurs’ Heartbreaking Defeat Against Pelicans

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The Spurs fell to 10-39 on Friday night.

San Antonio Spurs Hall of Fame coach Gregg Popovich didn’t need to say a lot and didn’t need to name any names to make his displeasure known over his team’s final shot. Instead of passing to Victor Wembanyama, who was open and heading to the basket, Devin Vassell missed a three-pointer at the buzzer with the Silver and Black down one in a 114-113 loss to the New Orleans Pelicans.

“Yeah, sure,” is how Popovich started his answer as to whether the Vassell shot was what he wanted in those final moments. He then pivoted.

“We’d rather throw it to the rim and go dunk it but that’s the shot we got.”

Detailing the final play

Spurs' Devin Vassell looking serious

ClutchPoints asked Devin Vassell about those final 3.8 seconds, specifically whether he was supposed to look for Wembanyama or if that responsibility belonged to the in-bounder; Jeremy Sochan in this case.

“No, not the in-bounder. It was just a me and Vic play. Three seconds and just kind of see what happens. If I see Vic kind of slip out of the screen, but there was nobody in front of me so I took the shot,” Vassell responded.

Replays and still shots from the broadcast angle show Wemby open as Vassell was gathering to shoot. The former Florida State star didn’t have the vantage point of a wide-angle lens.

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“Coach drew up a great play. Basically, set up a back screen for Tre. Come off, me and Vic play,” the Spurs second leading scorer for the season continued. “Three seconds. The defenders got a little mixed up and I was in a rhythm, took the shot that I take every time and live with the result. I’m just sick it didn’t go in because it felt great.”

The 11th pick of the 2020 NBA Draft, Vassell scored a team-high 28 points, going 5 of 10 from three-point range and 11 of 21 from the field overall.

The physicality of the final play

Spurs point guard Tre Jones hit the floor to start that last possession. His head coach didn’t care to comment on whether the former Duke Blue Devil was fouled, saying that kind of contact happens throughout the game to different players.

Jones agreed.

“It was a physical game all night, so not surprised they didn’t call fouls on the stretch there,” the 2020 second round pick said.

Jones missed a lay-up with ten seconds remaining that would’ve put the Spurs up three before Pelicans star Zion Williamson, who finished with a game high 33 points, converted in transition despite a crowd.

Could have definitely finished that layup. We had two guys there for the putback as well and just didn’t bounce our way. And then [Williamson] got it heading the opposite way and made a tough play. Hats off to him on the tough layup.” Jones, whose 20 points were second on the team, continued. “I hate to lose that way, but we battled all night. We had a couple of double-digit leads. They fought back and took the lead. We continued to fight right up until the end.”

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With the loss, the Spurs fall to 10-39. The Pelicans at 28-21 are seventh in the Western Conference.


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