It’s been a tough few weeks for the San Antonio Spurs, who have really struggled in the second half of the season, and entered Sunday’s game with the Dallas Mavericks on a five-game losing streak. They’re back to winning ways now, however, thanks to the heroics of DeMar DeRozan. The veteran guard went for 33 points, five rebounds and eight assists, and hit a last-second game winner to lift the Spurs to a dramatic 119-117 win.
With just over a minute to play, DeRozan converted an and-one to put the Spurs up 117-113. They were only in control for a short time though, as Luka Doncic answered with a quick four points of his own to tie things up at 117-117 with 19.8 seconds to play. That’s when DeRozan stepped up again to make sure things didn’t go to overtime.
He wound the clock down up near mid-court, got a screen from Derrick White and went to work on Dorian Finney-Smith. After a few between-the-legs crossovers, he went for an audacious hybrid move where he combined a step-back and a side-step to create space. It looked a little awkward, but he made it work and drained the jumper with 0.5 seconds to play.
While it was just one of 72 regular-season games, this was a massive victory for the Spurs. After the first few months they were one of the most surprising teams in the league, and were on pace to return to the playoffs. But they’re just 7-12 since the All-Star break, and have dropped all the way to ninth place in the Western Conference.
Now 5.5 games back of the sixth-place Portland Trail Blazers, the Spurs will almost certainly need to make it through the play-in tournament to get back to the postseason. But even qualifying for that isn’t a guarantee at this point. They’re just two games ahead of the surging New Orleans Pelicans, led by Zion Williamson’s unstoppable offensive attack.
It’s going to take a strong final month for the Spurs to hold them off, and DeRozan’s game-winner gave them a platform to build from.