Game Preview: San Antonio Spurs vs. Houston Rockets

Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports

The AT&T Center welcomes the Houston Rockets.

San Antonio Spurs vs Houston Rockets

AT&T Center
Dec. 28th, 2012, 7:30 Spurs Time
TV: CSH,FSSW- RADIO: 1200 AM WOAI


The Spurs are on a friggen tear as of late. Kawhi is back and he is making an immediate impact. In their absolute decimation of the Dallas Mavericks, the Silver and Black proved they are still among NBA's small group of elite teams. The Houston Rockets started the season in Jekyll and Hyde mode; however, they are plowing through the NBA as of late. These two offensive oriented forces are meeting tonight, in what will almost undoubtedly be a high scoring game all around.

The Houston Rockets are one of the surprise teams of this season.I don't normally watch games in their entirety if the Spurs are not involved. When the Lakers are about to lose I do try to catch the final 2 minutes. ( that is the funniest part) But overall I can't be bothered with watching a whole game featuring two teams who I don't have any emotional investment in. But a perfect storm led me to watch the Houston vs. Memphis game from start to finish. (loads of unexpected free time+ cold weather+ the allure of watching a good defensive team play a good offensive team+ the fact this preview was approaching= Izee watching the Rockets play the Grizz)

Bullet points from the game:

-The Rockets have awesome point guards

This could prove to be the biggest advantage of the Rockets. Jeremy Lin and Toney Douglas are an elite point guard duo. Wait huh? I know right. Apparently all Toney and Jeremy needed was to step away from the bright and slightly jarring lights of New York City. Jeremy Lin is progressing into a reliably good starting point guard. In the Memphis game there was an impressive sequence orchestrated by Lin.

He yanks the ball from Marc Gasol's hand then blows by Tony Allen and finishes with a layup. That kind of stuff proves he has the minerals to be a starter in this league. As for Toney he is sadly underrated. He has defensive prowess and can make it rain from downtown.( He leads the Rockets in 3 point percentage) But perhaps his most crucial contributions don't show in the boxscore. Toney is really good at driving to the hoop. In some ways reminiscent of a certain player with the same first name. (properly spelled of course) In one sequence he drove to the hoop and totally missed. However he was close enough so the ball dropped into the vertically auspicious hands of Omer Asik for an easy two points. This is the kind of thing that does not show up on a stat sheet as an assist, but it should.

The thing is Toney is good enough to let Jeremy take a rest. This is crucial because Jeremy is the kind of player that is effective in spurts. The more rest he gets the more sustainable those spurts are. I also like how the two point guards are sometimes on the court together. When Toney handles the ball Jeremy is a deadly shooter off the ball. The mind blowing thing is that it also works the other way around. Towards the end of the game Jeremy was handling the ball and dished a nice pass to Toney who drove to the hoop for a nice layup. I can only see this duo getting better which is a scary thought.

-James Harden is a potential MVP

If I didn't think this guy was also deserving of the MVP, then I might be more actively campaign for the bearded one. One day the trophy could be his. He is impressive defensively and offensively and is only getting better. During the halftime interview Kevin Mchale was asked about his thoughts on James Harden's level of play, Mchale's reply was "well James is James". That kind of thing is only spoken about superstars. He is not only capable of being a franchise leader, he is the freaking franchise player for the Rockets and he is only been on the team for a few months. He is scary good at breakaway points, three pointers, and free throws, not to mention just about everything else.

-Omer Asik is really good at rebounding.

I mean really really good.

-Carlos Delfino could steal milk from a bull.

Is that an expression? I think it is quite good. That is if your mind is not in gutter. When he steals the ball and passes it to Harden that train is quite unstoppable once it gets moving.

- Marcus Morris is an efficient shooter.
He is a quiet kind of payer who puts in a modest stat line. However he doesn't waste possessions, and contributes nicely to the team.

-About 40 front row seats behind both baskets were empty after halftime.
How could you pay like a million dollars for a comfortable and well located seat, and leave after less than an hour during a close (at the time) and important game? Give up the seat to someone who really gives a crap!

-The attendance generally seemed kind of low.

What is going on Houston fans?. This team is interesting, and they could make the playoffs. What more do you want?

-I just saw a Guinness Black Lager commercial for the first time.

Alright I am not an expert on beerocology. (Is that a thing?) I do enjoy the occasional brew, so I have seen this Guinness stuff before. But I have yet to see a Guinness that wasn't black. The adjective there seems a bit redundant. Does Miller have a "Yellow Lager" I don't know about? (Editors note: Guinness Stout is full bodied, smooth with coffee/toffee undertones, Guinness Lager is much lighter, sharper and carbonated. Stout wins hands down IMO)

Houston's on-court adverts are all over the place.

There is a Toyota (Japan) advertisement on the floor, a advertisement entirely in Chinese (China) below the basket, and a United Airlines (USA) advertisement on the baseline. It is like a super capitalistic UN meeting. Side note: Toyota's slogan is " Built in the Heart of Texas" . Am I missing something? Is the heart of Texas being held hostage inside a car manufacturing plant? If so why aren't the news agencies reporting on this? Yo CNN , the heart of Texas is being held against its will! Stop talking about people driving on ice with a Lamborghini!

Clyde Drexler thinks that Jeremy Lin should stop falling like a sack of potatoes.
Sorry Clyde, but I don't think a sack of potatoes possess a consciousness (unless the potatoes are really old) so a sack of potatoes just falls like any other non-sentient object. I suppose "falling like a paper clip" doesn't have the same ring to it though.

The game got super boring towards the end, so my attention wandered to things like potatoes, game attendance and advertisements.

That was obvious right?

It is 103- 80 with 8 minutes left in the 4th and Lin and Harden are still playing.
I know this team's bench is not super deep. But Lin and Harden should at least rest unless the Grizz make some kind of cray cray comeback.

After the game I was a bit worried, but now I'm not. (Game Analysis)

We have played this Rockets team before. However I would venture to say that we haven't played "this" Rockets team yet. In the Rocket's first game against the Spurs this season, Jeremy Lin was going through a case of the sads that plagued him during the start of the season. (a totally bummer 4 points and 4 assists) And then in the second game Lin got his groove back or whatever you want call it (a totally whoa 38 points and 7 assists), but James Harden didn't even play. So what is going to happen if Harden and Lin show up to play against San Antonio? Well it is going to be a "battle of the offenses".

They are a great perimeter shooting team, but so are the Spurs. I see Kawhi being his usual disruptive force behind the arc and turning the tide in crucial moments for some reason. So while impressive, Houston's perimeter shooting doesn't bother me all that much. What is worrying is their rebounding. Memphis is an excellent rebounding team, and they got straight up destroyed by the Rockets off the glass. A lot of this is attributed to Omer Asik whose only job on the Rockets seems to be rebounding and to tip in loose balls. In a "clash of the rebounders" on December 25th, Omer had 18 rebounds to J. Noah's 9. (That is double) So when Timmeh is on the bench, Splits and company have to be on their A game. The Rocket's most glaring weakness is their bench. Aside from Carlos Delfino and Toney Douglas ,they don't have much in the way of reserves. In fact who else is left? Greg Smith? Cole "OKC's former HVC" Aldrich? Scott Machado? Houston is a fast squad who will get tired towards the end of a game or (if it comes to this) towards the end of a seven game series. Because of this reservoir of talent, look for San Antonio to win a close game against a quick and scary team.

Lineups

Starters
PG: Tony Parker
SG: Danny Green
SF: Kawhi Leonard
PF: Tim Duncan
C: Tiago Splitter

Key Bench Players
Manu Ginobili
Boris Diaw
Stephen Jackson

Head Coach
Gregg Popovich

Lineups

Starters
PG: Jeremy Lin
SG: James Harden
SF: Chandler Parsons
PF:Marcus Morris
C: Omer Asik

Key Bench Players
Toney Douglas
Carlos Delfino
Greg Smith


Head Coach

Kevin Mchale

The Rocket's perspective can be found here: The Dream Shake

San Antonio Spurs Tickets

Our partner TiqIQ has teamed up with SeatCrunch to bring you great deals on Spurs tickets. Use the code 'SAVE' for free FedEx shipping (or equal $14 value). Check out the deals here, at SeatCrunch

Game Prediction: Spurs by 5. Vegas says Spurs by 8.

Game Previewers Prediction Records & points off per prediction

Wes Thorne 8-1* (-1, 0, 23, 2, -8*,1, 28, 10, 0) *@MIA

Joe deLarios 6-2 (-1, 3, 5, 0, 1, 6,-11, -3)

Fred 2-2 (3, -8, 20)

Racm 2-3 (-25, -14, -5, 15, 12)

Stijl 1-1 (-12, 11)

CapHill 1-0 (13)

As always Tony must dominate Fisher, and NBA league pass is recommended for those who are willing to pony up the cash. Almost every Spurs game will be broadcast there, which is especially helpful for those of us who aren't in the San Antonio area. Please don't post links to illegal game feeds in the game thread. Links to illegal feeds are not permitted on SBNation, but you can probably find them out there on the internets if you're resourceful and desperate.

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