The Spurs raised another banner to the rafters on Saturday night, but couldn’t come out with the same energy in their season opener.
Austin, which finished with the second-best record in the league last year and won its second G-League title in team history a season ago, never led in a 126-120 loss to the Dallas Mavericks’ affiliate Texas Legends.
“We got into some foul trouble early,” Spurs head coach Black Ahearn said. “That kind of disrupted the flow a little bit. But I’m pleased with their effort and how they tried to execute a little bit. We’ve got something to work on and build towards for sure.”
Jaron Blossomgame led Austin with 31 points and nine rebounds. Julian Washburn had 23 points while rookie two-way player Drew Eubanks had 22 points and nine rebounds in his first professional game.
Returning big man Amida Brimah had a double-double with 20 points and 10 rebounds off the bench for Austin.
“The thing with him is it doesn’t matter if he starts or comes off the bench, he’s got the same mindset and energy,” Ahearn said. “He’s got such an NBA skill set with the rim protecting and finishing around the basket. I was very pleased with what he brought to the game.”
Texas jumped out an early lead in the first quarter and the Legends’ lead ballooned to as many as 17 points before halftime thanks to shooting 63 percent from the floor. Washburn scored 14 first-half points for Austin
Dallas two-way player Daryl Macon scored 21 of his game-high 35 points in the second half and started the third quarter shooting 3-of-4 from long range.
Austin tied the game briefly at 81 points apiece midway through the third quarter following a hook shot by Brimah, and the Spurs cut the lead to as little as five in the fourth quarter, but the Legends went on a 6-0 run to put the game away.
“Whether it’s San Antonio or Austin, the defense is where everything starts,” Ahearn said. “It’s tough, especially against a team like Texas, they’re physical and they’ve got good bigs. We had a little bit of a communication issue. Now we’ve got a few days to work on it before our next game.”
This year’s squad features six returning players, including Blossomgame, Brimah, Washburn and fan favorite Jeff Ledbetter. Eubanks went underrated out of Oregon State last year, while NBA veteran and for San Antonio player DeJuan Blair was added via the G-League draft.
“It doesn’t happen overnight,” Ahearn said. “We’ve got a good base to build from, but there are some points of emphasis for when we watch the film. We’ve got the hard part taken care of and got the first (game) out of the way.”
Austin romped through the playoffs last year, beating the RGV Vipers in the conference semifinals, the South Bay Lakers in the conference final and sweeping Raptors 905 in the best-of-three Finals.
It was the second G-League title for Austin, which won what was then called the D-League in 2012 when the team went by the Austin Toros.
“Anytime you get to do something like that, it’s pretty cool,” Ahearn said. “Hopefully 30 years from now, you can look back at all the memories. Just the group we had and everything that made that happen was pretty special.”