The Spurs played right into the old cliche that many games are a tale of two halves on Saturday night.
Austin beat the Iowa Wolves 118-116 in its final home game of 2018 and held the Wolves to 43 points on 39.6 percent shooting in the first half. However, the Spurs nearly gave up their 25-point lead, shooting 38.5 percent from the floor and allowing 21 points off turnovers in the second half.
They hit just over half their free throws in the second half, and Iowa had a chance to win with a 3-pointers that missed at the final buzzer.
"The first half is what we know we can do. The second half that we've seen too much of this year," Spurs head coach Blake Ahearn said. "They set the bar high. We've got to fight the urge to fall into those lulls again. Yeah, we came out with the win, but we've got to learn from it. Hopefully, this helps us down the road."
Eight Austin players scored in double figures, led by Chimezie Metu, who was assigned to Austin from San Antonio last Friday. He scored 21 points and had three blocks. Fellow San Antonio loanee Lonnie Walker IV scored 16 points.
Amida Brimah had a double-double off the bench, scoring 10 points and grabbing 14 rebounds while contributing a team-high four blocks. Nick Johnson scored 11 points and dished out a team-best 11 assists.
The offensive onslaught started early for the Spurs on Saturday. Jeff Ledbetter, who scored a team-high eight points in the first quarter, nailed a layup with the just under a minute left in the period to give Austin a Double-digit lead.
Texas A&M alumnus Jordan Green sealed the first half with an emphatic dunk off a feed from Brimah.
"We were moving the ball and guys were being unselfish and finding their teammates," Ahearn said. "We're not a one-on-one team. That's not what the Spurs do. We pride ourselves on defense and ball movement. When we do those things, were pretty good."
Austin just kept pace with Iowa in the third quarter, before the Wolves went on a run in the fourth quarter, outscoring the Spurs 38-18 in the final 12 minutes of the game.
Iowa scored 11 points in the final 30 seconds of the game.
"We just lost intensity on the defensive end and it hurt us," Metu said. "We need to play hard the whole time. That was a little bit of an issue. It's something we all have to come together and focus in on."
In just his fifth G-League game, Metu dictated the pace defensively for most of the first half and third quarter and was even the most potent scorer for much of the game. He's averaging 16.9 points and 3.9 rebounds per game for Austin and has made four appearances in the NBA.
Metu has done the up-and-down movement from one league to another more than any other player on the team. His assignment from the NBA to the G-League on Friday was his fifth such move of the season.
"It might be a little tough because I'm working on individual stuff in San Antonio," Metu said. "But basketball is basketball and you've just got to be ready to whenever. I just try to it fit in where I can fit in."
Austin plays its next five games away from the HEB Center and returns to the friendly confines on Jan. 5 at Noon when it hosts the Memphis Hustle.
"We won the game, but how it happened was not okay," Ahearn said. "Our job is to develop these guys and make them better players. They'll learn from it and get better."