The Austin Spurs had to rely on their defense late in the game in order to suppress the Los Angeles D-Fenders’ hopes of coming back after surging to a large lead through three quarters. It paid off, as the Spurs beat the D-Fenders 112-100.
After a deadlocked first quarter, the Spurs offense played well in the second quarter, allowing them to lead 62-38 at halftime. While the offense sustained its excellence in the third quarter, the defense allowed 39 points to allow Los Angeles to cut the Spurs’ lead to 16 by the end of the quarter. At the beginning of the fourth, the D-Fenders jumped out to a 13-4 run, cutting the lead to four points.
“We had a big lead and kind of let it get to our heads, so we started playing out of character,” said Austin point guard Bryce Cotton, who played in his first game back with the Spurs since Nov. 20.
Cotton was a significant component to the Spurs offense in Thursday’s contest, leading his team with 21 points. The point guard is averaging 21.8 points per game through five games this season and spent time with the Phoenix Suns in the NBA this year, playing in three games. Despite being waived, Cotton has been able to utilize his experience of playing at the highest level to improve his game with the Austin Spurs.
“With just two days of practice, I was pleased. I want him to shoot more when he’s open,” Spurs coach Ken McDonald said of Cotton’s performance.
Cotton hit 7-of-15 shots from the floor, and all six free throws he attempted. Perhaps his most important shot was a technical free throw with 40.8 seconds left that gave the Spurs an eight-point lead.
The Spurs’ second quarter defense helped the Spurs build a big lead, when they held Los Angeles to a season-low 13 points in the quarter. When Cotton pushed the pace on fast breaks, and guard Orlando Johnson was rebounding and getting to the free throw line easily, nothing went Los Angeles’ way.
The Austin Spurs improve to 16-7 with the victory, and the D-Fenders fall to 12-13. The Spurs will travel to Reno to face the Bighorns on Saturday.