MEXICO CITY: Kawhi Leonard #2 of the San Antonio Spurs dribbles the ball against the Phoenix Suns as part of NBA Global Games at Arena Ciudad de Mexico on Jan. 14, 2017. Credit: David Dow / Getty Images

The Spurs’ goal when they landed in Mexico City Friday in advance of their NBA Global Games contest against the Phoenix Suns on Saturday transcended the game.

Because an electrical fire inside Arena Ciudad de Mexico about two hours before a scheduled game against the Minnesota Timberwolves on Dec. 4, 2013 had forced the game to be cancelled, everyone in the Spurs organization who participated in that game felt they had unfinished business to complete.

“We are hoping to give them a good game since they didn’t get anything last time,” Gregg Popovich said before the Spurs departed. “It was very disappointing for them. They love basketball and they enjoy the NBA. To go to all the trouble they went through and not get the final product was depressing for them. We are hopeful that all of this will go well and we can all put on a good show for them.”

This time, the Spurs and Suns accomplished that mission. Saturday’s game, played before a sellout crowd of 20,532 in Mexico’s capital city, included a dramatic finish and a pair of electrifying individual performances. Spectators who wished only to see high-caliber NBA basketball had to be gratified by what they witnessed.

Spurs forward Kawhi Leonard and Suns guard Devin Booker waged a crackling head-to-head battle in the fourth period. Booker scored 14 of his game-high 39 points in the quarter, while Leonard scored 10 of his career high 38 points.

The outcome, however, was a tad depressing for Popovich, his players, and a large contingent of Mexican fans who came to the game wearing various forms of Spurs gear: a 108-105 loss, only their fourth road loss of the season.

Nevertheless, Popovich was happy for everyone connected with the event, including NBA Commissioner Adam Silver, who attended after a 12-hour flight from London, where he had watched the Denver Nuggets defeat the Indiana Pacers in another Global Games contest Thursday.

Mostly, Popovich was happy for the fans.

“I think they enjoyed the show,” he said. “They were loud. They were active. It was split pretty good between Suns fans and Spurs fans and that’s always a great environment to play in. So, the fans deserve a lot of credit for coming out and enjoying NBA basketball. I hope they got what they thought they were going to get.”

Popovich never expected to get a second game decided by a final shot in only five days, but Saturday’s finish was eerily similar the 109-107 loss to the Milwaukee Bucks the Spurs absorbed Tuesday.

Just as Manu Ginobili missed a 3-point shot that could have won Tuesday’s game at the final buzzer, another missed 3-pointer figured heavily into the outcome on Saturday.

This time Danny Green, who entered the game as the NBA’s leader in long distance accuracy, missed a wide-open look that could have put the Spurs ahead with 6.9 seconds left.

Just as he had on Tuesday, Leonard passed up a well contested shot near the basket to pass to a wide-open Ginobili in the corner. This time, Ginobili zipped the ball to Green, unguarded at one of his favorite launch sites.

“I saw an opportunity to get the ball in transition,” Leonard said of the Spurs’ final chance to turn the outcome. “I ended up coming away with it. Their guys collapsed on me, and I kicked it out to Manu. We got a shot that we wanted. It just didn’t go.”

Green’s miss on a shot he typically makes didn’t worry Popovich.

His team’s turnovers, however, had his jaw a tad tight.

“You don’t want to come down to the end of the game having to make a shot to win it,” Popovich said. “You’ve got to win games earlier than that.

“I thought the Suns did a great job of being aggressive for 48 minutes. They clearly played very competitively for the 48, as is evidence by the 26 or so second chance points they got. And, we exacerbated that with 20 points off our turnovers. So, that was really the game.”

This time, it was a game that Mexico’s NBA fans will be buzzing about for a long time. The Spurs can take some solace from that.

Mike Monroe

Mike Monroe is a longtime, award-winning NBA and Spurs reporter who recently retired from the Express-News and is now contributing to the Rivard Report.