NBA Notes: Spurs, Bulls, Thunder

Spurs

Saturday’s win over the Pelicans kept alive the Spurs’ hopes for a berth in the play-in tournament, and guard Dejounte Murray said the team got a little extra motivation from coach Gregg Popovich.

“Our two meetings (Saturday), I kind of was mad that we kept watching the film of that last game because they beat us really bad from tip all the way to the end of the game,” Murray said of the Pelicans. “We all took that personal.”

  • Small forward Devin Vassell missed Saturday’s game with a sore Achilles tendon and is considered day-to-day. He is having an underrated season, averaging 11.9 points.

Bulls

The Bulls took a playoff-like approach in Saturday’s road win over the Cavaliers, playing with energy right away and bursting to awn early double-digit lead. That was by design.

“We played desperate tonight and it showed,” center Nikola Vucevic said. “We needed to. It goes to our approach, knowing how important these games are.”

The Bulls are in good position to hold onto the fifth seed, winning the season series over the Cavs by a 3-1 count. So even though Chicago only holds a one-game advantage in the standings, it really is up by two. (Related Cavs Dribbles.)

The Bulls also hold the tiebreaker over the Raptors and play five of their final eight games at home.

“It speaks to our approach, our understanding of how important those games were,” Vucevic said. “But also we have to understand that we have to do it every night.”

Thunder

With the Thunder playing for little more than pride and ping-pong balls in the NBA draft lottery, there’s a chance that guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander (ankle) will be shut down for the final two weeks. 

“We’re going to have a conversation with him here in the next couple of days to discuss the rest of the year because the game-to-game is not sustainable, in terms of just in, out, on the nightly basis. We’re obviously running out of games here,” coach Mark Daigneault said.

  • Rookie guard/forward Josh Giddey has been progressing from a hip injury, Daigneault said, but Giddey is done for the season. Without a doubt, he will be a member of the All-Rookie team.
  • While the news on Gilgeous-Alexander and Giddey is bleak, rookie forward Jeremiah Robinson-Earl is expected to return from a foot injury within the next few days, the Associated Press reported.

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