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Sochan, Vassell lead Spurs past Suns 104-102 as injured Wembanyama watches from sidelines

  • AP
  • Mar 25, 2024

SAN ANTONIO (AP) Jeremy Sochan hit a key 3-pointer in the final minute and finished with 26 points and a career-high 18 rebounds as San Antonio beat the Phoenix Suns 104-102 on Monday night with Spurs rookie Victor Wembanyama sidelined due to injury.

Devin Vassell added 26 points for San Antonio and celebrated the victory by yelling into the house microphone after the game: “That’s a big win. That’s a big win.”

Devin Booker scored 36 points and Kevin Durant added 29 as Phoenix split a two-game set in San Antonio.

“Disappointed,” Phoenix guard Bradley Beal said. “We definitely laid an egg. We came in, thought it was going to be easy, no Wemby. … They came out aggressive, like coach told us they would, and we didn’t respond. We didn’t. Did not respond.”

Beal exited with three minutes remaining after spraining his right ring finger. Suns coach Frank Vogel said X-rays were negative for any structural damage, but Beal’s status remains undetermined.

The Suns outscored the Spurs 14-7 in the final five minutes, but Sochan’s 3-pointer with 29 seconds was the difference. Booker and Durant missed potential game-winning 3-pointers in the final seconds.

“I was confident,” Sochan said. “Even at the start, I was asking for the ball, I had my hands up. I felt like the couple of the last games the ball hasn’t going in for me from the 3-point line. But no matter what, I believe in myself.”

The Spurs were without Wembanyama, who sat out with a sprained left ankle. He was injured in Saturday’s loss to Phoenix.

San Antonio coach Gregg Popovich said the injury was not severe and that it was “a little better than 50-50” that Wembanyama would play Wednesday at Utah.

After being blown out Saturday by Phoenix witih Wembanyama, the Spurs unexpectedly turned the tables without him.

“He’s a key piece we are missing, and I think that makes us, we need to be more connected in that sense if we are missing him,” Sochan said. “We got to do stuff he does, whether that’s defense, rebounding, making it difficult for people to score in the paint, because we don’t have him as a key piece.”

The loss could prove critical for Phoenix, which next plays 10 consecutive playoff-bound teams, starting Wednesday in Denver.

“It’s unacceptable to lose that game for our guys,” Vogel said. “We all said the right things, we all did the right preparation to come in, but we didn’t play with the necessary focus and disposition throughout I would say the first half. You give a team like that life and that’s how the NBA works. … With Victor out, those guys played really well.”

Phoenix (42-30) is eighth in the Western Conference, percentage points behind Sacramento (41-29) and Dallas (41-29) in the race for sixth and the final spot to avoid the play-in tournament.

After trailing by 32 points in losing 131-106 on Saturday, San Antonio was much better in the rematch – just as Phoenix expected.

“I’m not into disrespecting our opponents,” Booker said. “These guys are NBA guys and they have some talented young players over there. … We weren’t unprepared. We knew what to expect.”

The Suns needed Durant and Booker in the final quarter after both sat out the fourth in Saturday’s victory, with the Spurs trailing by 25 points in the fourth.

San Antonio went on a 16-0 run bridging the third and fourth quarters, turning a nine-point deficit in the third into an 83-74 lead two minutes into the fourth.

San Antonio closed its season-high eight-game homestand with two victories, including one in Austin as part of the franchise’s regional outreach.

UP NEXT

Suns: At Denver on Wednesday.

Spurs: At Utah on Wednesday.

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1234Taway team logo Suns 42-3022282428102home team logo Spurs 16-5629182829104

Frost Bank Center San Antonio, TX

TOP SCORERS
D. Booker SG36PTS6REB4AST
J. Sochan SF26PTS18REB1AST
team logo

Suns

STARTERSPTSREBASTPFMIN
D. Booker3664439
K. Durant2986236
B. Beal956030
J. Nurkic694119
G. Allen642234
BENCHPTSREBASTPFMIN
R. O’Neale1252025
E. Gordon220124
D. Eubanks264421
B. Bol02008
T. Young
I. Thomas
D. Lee
J. Okogie
U. Azubuike
I. Wainright
S. Lee
N. Little
D. Roddy
Total102472814236
team logo

Spurs

STARTERSPTSREBASTPFMIN
J. Sochan26181235
D. Vassell2647235
Z. Collins1853330
J. Champagnie600220
T. Jones234027
BENCHPTSREBASTPFMIN
K. Johnson1435230
C. Osman720215
B. Wesley523020
M. Branham00007
D. Barlow030217
D. Graham
R. Gray
J. Bouyea
S. Mamukelashvili
V. Wembanyama
S. Cissoko
C. Bassey
D. Duke Jr.
Total104402315236