Keldon Johnson’s late basket gives Spurs only lead of game, 115-114 win over Suns

PHOENIX (AP) — Keldon Johnson stripped Kevin Durant and made a contested layup with 1.2 seconds left to give the Spurs their only lead of the game and a 115-114 victory over the stunned Phoenix Suns on Tuesday night.

The Spurs, who trailed by as many as 20 points, broke a nine-game losing streak against Phoenix.

Johnson had 27 points to lead San Antonio, which outscored the Suns 33-19 in the fourth quarter. The Spurs were coming off a 40-point loss to the Clippers on Sunday in Los Angeles.

After rookie Victor Wembanyama’s dunk cut the lead to one, the Spurs trapped Durant in the corner.

“I went for a steal (earlier) and I saw Tre (Jones) had him in the corner and I was just like, the worst that happens is they call a foul,” Johnson said. “We had to make something happen.

“We kept fighting, stay together regardless of what’s going on. Try to correct our mistakes.”

Suns coach Frank Vogel saw the decisive play differently.

“They fouled him, the refs didn’t call it,” Vogel said. “They whacked him on the arm before the ball gets ripped out of his hands. No call. In a situation like that, we try to get a quick inbounds to our 90% free-throw shooter, and we did.”

Playing in his fourth NBA game, top draft pick Wembanyama missed his first five shots before throwing down a sensational dunk in the final seconds of the first half. He scored 18 points and had a team-high eight rebounds in 28 minutes. Devin Vassell also had 18 for the Spurs.

“They responded great,” Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said, referring to the blowout in the previous game. “They kept playing through it. We made a gazillion mistakes, but it’s a game of mistakes. We kept playing and that’s the best thing. I was really proud of them.”

Durant led Phoenix with 26 points. Eric Gordon scored 20, Grayson Allen had 19 on 5 of 7 shooting from 3-point range for the Suns, who played without injured starting guards Bradley Beal and Devin Booker.

Jusuf Nurkic had a game-high 12 rebounds for Phoenix, which scored the game’s first eight points.

Popovich called a timeout 53 seconds into the game after Durant’s fastbreak dunk made it 4-0. It didn’t help much as Phoenix went on to lead 27-18 at the end of the quarter. Durant had 10 points in the period, finishing with a step-back jumper as time was running out. The Spurs shot 29% from the field in the quarter and made just 1 of 11 from 3-point range.

Phoenix led 63-45 at halftime and 95-82 after three quarters before the Spurs rallied.

Before the game, Vogel said “there’s no timetable” for the return of Booker (left ankle sprain) and Bradley Beal (low back spasms).

“They’re working very hard to get back as soon as possible,” Vogel said, noting that they have resumed some on-court activities in practice.


Spurs and Suns meet again Thursday in Phoenix.



Jack Thompson, The Associated Press