SAN ANTONIO, Texas – Relying on 6-foot guard Patty Mills to be a rim protector and salvage a victory isn’t the best strategy, but the San Antonio Spurs will happily accept any win as they fight for an NBA-record 23rd straight postseason appearance.
Trey Lyles had 20 points and the Spurs overcame a shaky fourth quarter to beat Orlando 114-113 on Saturday night, snapping the Magic’s three-game winning streak.
“They don’t tell you how you won, they just show how many you got,” San Antonio guard Derrick White said. “So, whether you win by one, win by 50, it doesn’t matter as long as you win.”
The Spurs remain three games behind Memphis for the eighth seed in the West. The Magic remain seventh in the East.
San Antonio led by as many as 16 points in snapping a two-game skid but came within seconds of another defeat.
With the Spurs leading 114-113, Bryn Forbes lost the ball in a scramble with 7.5 seconds. Magic guard Evan Fournier raced downcourt and drove around Rudy Gay but and threw up an errant and off-balance layup with 2.2 seconds as he attempted to avoid Mills’ outstretched arms.
“It’s a layup,” Fournier said. “It’s a damn layup. There’s no excuse.”
White rebounded the miss and tossed the ball upcourt to run out the clock and give San Antonio its third win in 10 games. With a slight smirk, White said he wasn’t worried about the outcome knowing Mills was defending the rim on Orlando’s final possession.
“We’ve got Patty down there, so I was confident,” White said. “We have Patty Mills the rim protector down there.”
Fournier finished with 23 points and Terrence Ross added 21 for Orlando.
The Magic outscored the Spurs 60-53 in the second half to overcome a dismal start.
“Lack of readiness on my end, for sure,” Orlando forward Aaron Gordon said of the first half.
Gordon finished with seven points, six rebounds and six assists after earning his second career triple-double in the Magic’s 136-125 win over the Minnesota Timberwolves on Friday.
Orlando took its first lead against San Antonio at 91-90 on Michael Carter-Williams’ layup with 9:16 remaining in the final quarter. The Magic would complete a 10-0 run to extend their lead to 96-90 before the Spurs rallied for the win.
San Antonio had seven players score in double figures, including 19 points from Rudy Gay, 16 from DeMar DeRozan and 15 by Dejounte Murray.
DeRozan had six points and three assists in the final quarter after being held to 10 points on 3-for-7 shooting in the first three quarters.
“I loved DeMar hanging in,” Popovich said. “He didn’t have a great game. He was really having a tough time, but we went to him five, six times in a row down the stretch and he never hung his head. "
The Spurs needed the balanced scoring, especially from Gay, with LaMarcus Aldridge missing his second straight start with a sore right shoulder
Gay has struggled in his third season with the Spurs, averaging a career low 9.4 points overall and 6.1 points in his previous nine games. Prior to the game, Popovich said Gay has battled “nagging” injuries but worked to get in shape during the All-Star Break.
Gay responded by shooting 4 for 6 on 3-pointers and 7 for 12 overall.
Magic: Mo Bamba, who played collegiately nearby for the Texas Longhorns, had eight points and five rebounds in 12 minutes. … The Magic swept the season series against the Spurs last season but have lost 16 of 21 overall and nine of 11 in San Antonio.
Spurs: Jakob Poeltl did not return after suffering a bruised right knee with 7:46 remaining in the first quarter. Poeltl walked off unassisted but had a noticeable limp. … Bryn Forbes joined Avery Johnson and Bruce Bowen as the only undrafted players to start 150 games with the Spurs. … Gay had his 25th block of the season, stuffing Vucevic under the rim. Nikola Vucevic recovered the block but was stepping out of bounds when he did.
Magic: Host Portland on Monday night.
Spurs: Host Indiana on Monday night.