Spurs’ Rudy Gay ready to keep firing away from long range – San Antonio Express-News

Spurs forward Rudy Gay entered Saturday night’s game shooting just 30.2 percent from 3-point range, but that didn’t stop Detroit coach Dwane Casey from game-planning against him.

“Rudy Gay is not shooting great, but we talked about how he is very capable,” Casey said after the Spurs’ 136-109 win.

The Pistons found out just how capable Gay can be from distance. The 14th-year pro came off the bench to knock down 4 of 7 from downtown on his way to scoring 16 points in 20 minutes.

It was Gay’s second straight night with a hot hand. In the 102-98 loss to the Mavericks on Thursday in Dallas, he also hit 4 of 7 from long range en route to scoring 18 in 26 minutes.

Gay’s sharpshooting against the Pistons was overshadowed by big man LaMarcus Aldridge sinking a career-best five 3-pointers on six attempts. Aldridge finished with 25 points in 30 minutes.

The Spurs recorded a season-high 18 3-pointers against Detroit in 35 attempts (51.4 percent) after entering the game averaging 26.3 attempts.

“We are just trying to figure out how we can help the team and right now it is with three-point shooting,” Gay said of him and fellow mid-range master Aldridge.

Gay suggested he and Aldridge will continue to fire away from deep.

“That’s how our league is going, and people like me and LA have to just learn how to space the floor and help the team that way,” he said. “You have to get into the lane, pass the ball to 3-point shooters and keep the defense honest. That’s what we’ve been trying to do.”

In the 10 games prior to the Dallas game, Gay averaged just 2.6 shots per game from 3-point territory. For the season, he’s averaging 3.3.

“I’m just shooting them now,” he said. “Being confident and shooting them.”

The same is true of Aldridge and even DeMar DeRozan, who is already 5 of 19 this season after going 7 of 45 last year.

“It’s not like me and LaMarcus are (Milwaukee’s) Kyle Korver and (former Dallas star) Dirk Nowitzki,” DeRozan said. “We just try to go out there and make the most of it, make the best out of it and I think we are getting a better feel with that.”

Walker shows off athleticism in victory

Gay was happy to play a role in helping Lonnie Walker IV showcase his athletic skills against the Pistons.

Letting the ball go just as he passed half court, Gay assisted on Walker’s soaring, on-the-run alley-oop dunk that gave the Spurs a 34-32 lead with 10:13 left in the first half.

Walker also had an alley-oop dunk in the fourth quarter on an assist by Derrick White that gave the Spurs a 24-point cushion.

“It’s about time,” Gay said of Walker taking advantage with his superior athleticism. “He is an athlete and he can do it, he might as well start doing it. … He is getting better at playing the way we know he can play.”

Earning minutes off the bench ahead of Marco Belinelli, Walker finished with eight points on 4-of-8 shooting in 16 minutes after being limited to 4 minutes in the blowout win in Memphis on Dec. 23 and enduring a did not play-coach’s decision in Dallas.

In the eight games in December leading up to the outing against the Grizzlies, Walker had averaged nearly 19 minutes per game.

Asked before Saturday’s game about Walker’s up-and-down minutes, coach Gregg Popovich said, “I don’t involve those sorts of discussions with media because we do what we think is best for the team.”

Gay noted that Walker, who the Spurs drafted 18th overall in 2018 after he played just one season at Miami, still has a lot to learn about the NBA game.

“He is a very mature kid,” Gay said. “It’s just playing basketball. It is nothing like college. It is nothing like high school. And that’s all he did before. You can’t expect him to be anything other than a 21-year-old kid.”

Scoring milestones

for Mills, DeRozan

With two 3-pointers Saturday night, the Spurs’ Patty Mills became just the third player in NBA history with 800 long-range baskets off the bench for one team.

Mills (801) is second behind the Spurs’ Manu Ginobili (929). The Hornets’ Dell Curry is third with 800.

With 29 points against Detroit, DeRozan has 400 career games with 20-plus points. The only players with more 20-point outings since he was drafted in 2009 are LeBron James, Kevin Durant, James Harden, Russell Westbrook, Stephen Curry, Carmelo Anthony and Aldridge.

torsborn@express-news.net

Twitter: @tom_orsborn

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